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Crazy Rich Asians (Blu-ray Review)

While it shouldn’t have been, the box office success and juggernaut attitude of Crazy Rich Asians took the US by storm at the end of the summer. It played like a programmer of old, opening to $26 million and legging it all the way to over $173 million. I mean, damn, the movie almost did $200 million in the states alone. Its been awhile since we had a big dominant comedy of that stature. Its all but guaranteed we will get to see the full trilogy of novels adapted to the big screen. And hopefully will kick off some more heavily Asian casted and cultured movies in the United States that aren’t just imports. You’ll be able to pick this one up when Warner Bros releases the film on November 20th. Pre-order a copy to have ready for watching and rewatching over the the Thanksgiving holiday weekend!

Film 

Rachel Chu is happy to accompany her longtime boyfriend, Nick, to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore. She’s also surprised to learn that Nick’s family is extremely wealthy and he’s considered one of the country’s most eligible bachelors. Thrust into the spotlight, Rachel must now contend with jealous socialites, quirky relatives and something far, far worse — Nick’s disapproving mother.

Crazy Rich Asians is a terrific surprise and a film that’s hard not to fall for its charm and getting choked up in emotional moments. All of it is well earned as the characters are all well laid out and give you ones to root for and against in the story. Not only is it a cast full of Asian actors, but its also the story of a woman with a strong head on her shoulders overcoming adversity and doing it on her own and sticking to her own strength and courage. Its very powerful to see our lead’s arc unfold.

Constance Wu is that lead and she’s outstanding here, able to bounce perfectly off of one another and play to the fish out of water with a sense of humanity and wonder rather than idiocy. Her antagonist is played in a delicious role by screen legend Michelle Yeoh. Yeoh is flippin’ fantastic in this movie and is deserving of a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her performance. She’s menacing and a person you just love to hate, but damn if there isn’t a sense of truth and understand somewhere behind those eyes. Another person who is gonna land many roles after this movie is Awkwafina who is legitimately laugh out loud funny and has tremendous timing with her lines. She’ll steal a scene or two with just simple sound.

Some might argue, thanks to being a major success and trying to take down something popular, that there isn’t much special about Crazy Rich Asians aside from its cast. Yes, the film does follow one of the often used romantic comedy templates (“Hey significant other, we’ve been together for a while now, how about you come away from the big city/small town and travel with me back home to the small town/big city that I grew up and meet my family for the first time!”). Don’t let that detract though, the details are filled in perfectly with culture and Singapore travelogue. But, damn, when something is done really well, it doesn’t matter if its a familiar story, it still works and it many times works the best. And its always a joy to see.

One aspect I must give credit to is the amazing soundtrack for the film. Its full of covers from Elvis to Madonna. Many of them are sung in Chinese which is a great way to carry this movies music emotional centers. There are two moments that really struck me as incredibly beautiful and it was the music that truly did it. First, during the wedding there was an (In English) cover of “Can’t Help Falling In Love” by Kina Grannis. Yes, this is an easy go to, but his version is fabulous and together with the scenery and the way its presented should move you. Moving even more is the Chinese sung cover of Coldplay’s “Yellow” from Katherine Ho that might even be better than the original and just carries that moment in the film with great strength. Its a moment in a film I’m never going to forget, where the movie and music just marry each other with great conviction, drive and emotion.

There’s a lot to take in and enjoy with John M. Chu’s film (Hell yea, the man who made the best Step Ups with continued success.  Overall, its one of the best pop romantic comedies in years and a great move forward for Asians in film. Hopefully the right lessons are learned from this films massive success and we can get things beyond just the China Rich Girlfriend sequel to the film. This is a solid exercise in making the best version of something not wholly original, but knock-offs are always more fun and intuitive than remakes and Crazy Rich Asians makes that formula feels fresh and fun.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Crazy Rich Asians comes to Blu-ray with a nice bright and more vivid picture thanks it a lot of its more tropical settings. The image is sharp, crisp and features a lot of visible texture and detail. This really does the trick, but its pretty well known that there is a 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray coming soon for this, and one has to image that’ll easily be the way to go if you have the means to watch it that way.

Depth:  This features some solid, above average work on the depth of field that could be improved a hair. Movements are smooth, natural and cinematic.

Black Levels: Blacks are pretty deep and featuring some good shading and shadow work and hold onto detail pretty well. Some minimal crushing does occur a little early on with some credit sequences.

Color Reproduction: Colors are pretty beautiful anywhere you shake it. Lighting filters, fireworks, outfits and tropical settings all give a tremendous pop. One has to have high hopes for a well done 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray with what is essentially promised here in the Blu-ray counterpart.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Facial features and textures like sweat, moles, scars, wrinkles, make-up and pores are seen clear as day here from any reasonable distance.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 5.1 Descriptive Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics: Crazy Rich Asians features a fine 5.1 track that sees a healthy balance in its mix of the vocals, score and sound effects. Effects are well nuances and layered into the film. They get loud and to the front when naturally able and can also hang back too. The more highlight or what this track does best is when there is a song to be performed. It really takes the forefront nicely.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Mostly the bumps come from the music. Natural things like car doors shutting, helicopter blades, engines and fireworks all give a little bump too.

Surround Sound Presentation: Some solid work her to recreate environments, but ultimately this is a front based track that utilized the rear channels to help build musical moments and loud environments.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.

Extras 

Crazy Rich Asians comes with the DVD edition and a digital copy of the film.

Audio Commentary

  • By Director Jon M. Chu and Novelist Kevin Kwan

Crazy Rich Fun (HD, 7:18) – An all too brief making of that hits typical beats and provides no real deep insights or spoilers of any kind. More promotional than educational.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 12:10)

Gag Reel (HD, 1:47)

Summary 

Crazy Rich Asians is a super fun and engaging film speaking to universal themes and challenges with relationships through the lens of the Singapore culture. Warner Bros has put together a very nice presentation for the film and it appears a 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray edition will be made readily available as well. I appreciate the commentary, but the featurettes portion of the bonus features is incredibly soft and weak which is surprising for as big a hit as this movie was. Pick this one up at a solid price!

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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