Kowloon! Image


By Jason Delgado | June 23, 2024

PALM SPRINGS SHORTFEST 2024 REVIEW! People are always going to love food, but I did not know that a restaurant could be described as “like Disneyland.” However, the short documentary Kowloon!, directed by Mona Xia and Erin Ramirez, does compare America’s largest Chinese restaurant to “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Kowloon, just outside of Boston, has been around since 1950 and is able to serve an astonishing 1200 people. Shots of a DJ with hundreds of people dancing like they’re at a rave, Elvis impersonators, bands, and dance groups all add to the entertainment of the stylish eatery that has also been described as like going to Hawaii.

The documentary follows the third-generation owners of Kowloon, including Bobby Wong and his family members who work there: Stanley, Andy, and Lillian. We see old photos and hear Bobby talk about it, starting from his father’s dream and the struggles his family had running it. Bobby started working there at sixteen, and before he knew it, the business became his entire life. Now, at almost 70, he’s looking to retire, but his children have no interest in keeping the family business alive.

“…Kowloon, just outside of Boston, has been around since 1950…”

Kowloon! shows how the restaurant has been a hot spot for famous wrestlers (such as John Cena and half of the tag team Demolition) over the years. Some patrons have been dining there for decades as regulars, or to enjoy anniversaries, and even for end-of-life celebrations. A number of the workers have been there for decades as well.

Kowloon is a joyful institution and the film reflects the sadness about comfortable institutions dying. With so many people and such an incredible history tied to one place, emotions will surely run high once it does meet its end. It’s also a meditation on legacy. Kowloon was built to its current success from nothing by immigrants who had nothing and no prospects. Bobby Wong’s parents taught him to work every different job in the place so that he would know what each role’s challenges were when he was the boss. It shows wisdom and great leadership, something that this society in current times sadly seems lacking.

I cannot believe that I have never heard of this place before. Xia and Ramirez convey the ambiance and history so intensely throughout Kowloon! that I feel as though I’ve been there and want it to survive as much as the regulars. I enjoyed my time, and others will, too.

Kowloon! screened at the 2024 Palm Springs Shortfest.

Kowloon! (2024)

Directed: Mona Xia, Erin Ramirez


Starring: Bobby Wong, Stanley Wong, Lillian Moy, Andy Wong, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Kowloon! Image

"…I feel as though I've been there and want it to survive..."

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