Go Back To China centres around Sasha Li (singer/actress/Youtube/all-rounder Anna Akana, above-centre), who’s looking for a job in fashion design, yet is struggling because she can’t get any experience, and no experience means she can’t get a job… I’m suddenly transported back to the ’80s when I watched Saturday Live in the UK, and comedian Mark Miwurdz said of the Tories’ job “Restart” scheme, “Restart?! How can I ‘restart’ if I never chuffing started in the first place?!”
Despite the lack of a job, she wastes half her trust fund on booze, and thinks nothing of using the credit card from her rich Daddy to buy expensive clothes… until she gets cut off, and the only option is to go back to… yep. If she works for the family toy business for one year, dad Teddy (Richard Ng) will make all her fiduciary problems go away.
Along the way in what feels like a sort-of reverse Brewster’s Millions, we see Sasha working on the front line on her first day to get a crash course in how her father’s business works; Teddy – who makes for a demanding boss – also has a younger live-in lover, Lulu (Kendy Cheung); plus there’s an early US-based scene in a nightclub makes me long for the days when those are open again.
However, while in China, Sasha learns the value of money in the form of a morality tale like someone punching you in the face with a hammer, whilst holding up a billboard stating: “This is what life is like for the working class!”
Yes, it’s not subtle, and doesn’t hold any surprises in how things will turn out, such as when Sasha discovers the work canteen only serves crappy food, and it’s only when she has a quiet word with Dad that he changes everything.
Overall, Go Back To China is worth a watch, but the frequent chest-beating from the characters – as they’re taught yet another of life’s harsh lessons, is like something out of a daytime soap opera.
However, out of this cast, Anna Akana, as Sasha, is the most natural onscreen, and the one to watch for future success, here. It’s also always good to see Kelly Hu – in this, as her mother – albeit briefly.
Go Back To China isn’t yet released in cinemas or on Blu-ray or DVD in the UK.
Cert: Not Rated
Running time: 95 minutes
Release date: US & Canada: March 3rd 2020; UK: TBA
Studio: Gravitas Ventures
Director: Emily Ting
Producers: Sophia Shek, Frederick Thornton, Emily Ting
Screenplay: Emily Ting
Music: Timo Chen
Sasha Li: Anna Akana
Teddy Li: Richard Ng
Carol Li: Lynn Chen
May Li: Kelly Hu
Jessica: Brittany Renee Finamore
Tracy: Akemi Look
Renee: Christina Thomas
Lulu: Kendy Cheung
Dior Li: Aviva Wang
Christian Li: Tiger Ting
Jose: Jejie Esguerra
Ernesto: Ray Yumul
Margaret: Ines Laimins
Ryan: Joe Fiorello
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.