brando!’s review published on Letterboxd:
i roped my girlfriend and her whole family into seeing this movie by selling it as a martial arts flick.
lots of confusion from the parents throughout the first half (gf's sister whispered explanations in Korean to explain lol) but by the end everyone was thoroughly transfixed.
for my part the second go-around made me appreciate the technical craft and the extremely tight writing WAY more. there's so much scope to this lovely film but also so much juvenile experimentation that couldn't have come from anyone older than 32 lol.
reading about how some of the crew learned filmmaking through just watching a ton of Hong Kong kung fu movies and rewatching Every Frame a Painting videos on YouTube really touched my heart. this is the next generation of filmmaking through and through, from a craft perspective, from a thematic perspective, it's all so earnest that all the cringe reddit stuff is buried under the flood of obvious passion and love for the material that it's hard for me to even dock any points from its contrivances.
during the Waymond part i also found myself crying harder than the first time. and i also found my girlfriend crying too (she never cries in movies). fingers interlocked, we looked at each other with tears fresh on our cheeks and kissed.
after the movie my girlfriend's mom was having a lot of fun pretending to verse jump in the AMC lobby with my girlfriend's siblings doing kung fu, and it was so fun seeing this middle-aged Asian lady find such resonance in a film that she probably found very confusing for the first part (she even had one of those puffy vest things on that Asian ladies are so fond of lol).
she went up to my gf who's been going through a lot of dark mental health struggles and doomer stuff at the cost of her college education/career and said "you're my Joy!!" before hugging her, which is probably the most heartfelt thing i've seen from an audience member right after a movie.
if anything i'm just over the moon at how this quirky reddit movie found such a strong resonance with this family, and i feel lucky to have witnessed their bonding through its earnest execution.
i'll get over my elitist biasess about how it's been done better before, because at the end of the day none of that detracts from a work that's wholly unique despite its accessibility.
that night i witnessed EEAO reach an audience that saw themselves in the screen, probably moreso than any movie they've ever seen, and shared a kiss with a woman who i knew needed this message more than anyone else i knew. that night i witnessed the raw power of cinema and its ability to change perspectives, and change lives.
life-affirming cinema at its most fun.