filmsbyfriday’s review published on Letterboxd:
One of the better and more engaging documentaries I’ve seen this season has been The Donut King, director Alice Gu’s delightful yet insightful story of Ted Ngoy, a man who’s meteoric rise was only rivaled by his calamitous fall. Who knew donuts could contain such drama? Ngoy grew up in Cambodia, and had to flee his homeland after it was engulfed in warfare and the militant Khmer Rouge took over. Part of a refugee program which relocated Cambodian nationals to California, Ngoy quickly climbed the management ladder at Wenchell’s donut house, eventually striking off on his own to become their biggest competition, and heralding in a vast network of Cambodian-owned mom-and-pop donut shops that still rule the SoCal market to this day. A later addiction to gambling nearly ruined him, but I won’t reveal how things turned out - you simply have to see his story to believe it. Told at a great pace with fantastic editing, perfectly-handled shifts in tone, and wrapping a pretty good wallop in a brisk 90 minutes, The Donut King is a winner... and whet my appetite for the tasty treats.