Lewis Bennett is a man tortured by a tragic past. When Lewis was in 5th grade, he got in a minor fight in school with a classmate. After being sent to the principal’s office, the principal spoke the words that have haunted Lewis ever since: if Lewis continued down his violent path, he’d wind up in an Asian gang.
Many years later, the seriously deadpan Lewis investigates his youthful indiscretion in an effort to find out whether he turned his life around, is still destined for Asian gang hood or whether such prophetic words ever had any validity in any form. The resulting documentary short gives us a portrait of Langley, British Columbia in the early 1990s, well-meaning authority figures and the type of moments that can have a lasting impact, for various disturbing reasons.
Asian Gangs is an absolutely hilarious short film. The life-or-death way in which Lewis attempts to solve his personal mystery is so awkwardly dry it can’t help but inspire giggles. This ultra-serious focus is coupled with sequences of Lewis asking his two Asian friends whether their friendship equates to a gang and interviews with a real gang expert and former Asian gang member, elevating the short to even funnier heights, but the film goes that extra mile to push it over into gut-busting territory when Lewis confronts the man he fought with back in 5th grade, and the two attempt to recreate the fateful battle.
Beyond the laughter, the film looks great. The amount of professional effort put into such an odd premise adds to the experience, creating a credibility to what could’ve been just a simple life anecdote with little value beyond a “the principal said that!?!” chuckle. Again, though, it’s the serious nature in which the film is presented that makes it all the more hilarious.
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