Emerging director Sasie Sealy has form in the short-film market, having twice won awards at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Lucky Grandma sees Sealy make her feature debut as both director and co-writer.
Grandma Wong is in need of some luck, since her late husband left her with nothing. On a trip to a casino, she wins, then loses, then finds, some money, and so begins her entanglement with New York’s Chinatown gangs.
Fundamentally a work of gentle humour, the screenplay, co-written by Sealy and Angela Cheng, contains moments of pathos, warmth, and even darkness, in amongst the considerable laughs.
Tsai Chin gives an acting masterclass as Grandma Wong. The film is a vehicle for Chin who carries it with humanity , authenticity, and superb comic timing. At the heart of both the pathos and the humour are the scenes between Grandma and Big Pong, played by towering Taiwanese actor, Hsiao-Yuan Ha. There are also some delightful cameos by Yan Xi as gang boss Sister Fong, and Wai Ching Ho as the fortune-teller.
Firmly grounded in the Chinese gangster movie tradition, Lucky Grandma takes those tropes and places them into a framework of family, societal views of ageing, and the Chinese-American experience. All served up with lots of laughs, and Grandma Wong’s drunken chicken.
Lucky Grandma is a delightful cinematic confection, with some real depth and heart. Sasie Sealy is a director who is surely going places.