“Lucky Grandma” hits virtual cinemas this week, a special new crime comedy from Good Deed Entertainment. Co-written and directed by Sasie Sealy, this crackling adventure features all the ingredients of a great experience at the movies without having to go to the theater. Now available on Video On Demand Services, this flick won’t need luck to get audiences laughing and gasping at its gags and twists.
Dissatisfied and recently widowed Chinese grandmother Wong, played by Tsai Chin, pays a visit to her fortune teller, who predicts great luck coming her way soon. A trip to the local casino leaves her broke, but a chance encounter on the bus home nets her a gangster’s money stash of thousands of dollars. But the gangsters soon catch up to her, and even employing bodyguard Big Pong, played by Corey Ha, might not be enough to escape their wrath.
“Lucky Grandma” is a very unique movie, and not just due to its blend of tone. It stars a cast of Asian American actors, most of the dialogue is in Chinese, its protagonist is a woman, and it’s written and directed by women. It is a solid statement of diversity and representation, and it is certainly fortuitous that the film is getting its release in May, which happens to be Pacific American Heritage Month.
The story is half about the funny turns of fortune our lives make, but also the bitterness one can acquire after a life of honest living. Wong loses all her savings at the casino, but the real “good luck” she encounters is her choice to take a gangster’s bag of money. We learn later that her recently deceased husband left her nothing to help support her, so part of her reasoning involves how unfair she views her situation.
But the movie primarily works thanks to its solid central performance by Tsai Chin as the titular grandma. She is sizzlingly hilarious, delivering her lines with a biting, sardonic edge. Her sharpness betrays her old, wilting appearance, making her angry outbursts an amusing surprise. A nice complement is the doughy Big Pong. He’s a softie on the inside, and the bond of friendship they gradually develop is genuinely heartwarming.
Directed by Sasie Sealy and co-written by Sealy and Angela Chang, both of whom are making their feature film debut with their efforts here. It’s an excellent one too; the script hooks you in right away with its lively central character. As an audience member, you’re attached to Wong, and the tension of what will happen to her progressively builds as she keeps getting visited by the gangsters.
Yet, all the while, the film is very funny, especially in the interactions between Wong and Big Pong. Even the confrontations with the gangsters get you to laugh, even if nervously because you’re never quite sure if their scenes will be only comedic or end in violence. “Lucky Grandma” is a darkly funny treat to share with film watchers of all ages. The film is available to watch on Vimeo, Alamo Drafthouse On Demand, and Kino Marquee Virtual Theaters.