Kris Aquino makes an impact in the Hollywood movie Crazy Rich Asians despite her short screentime.
Crazy Rich Asians follows the footprints of popular romantic comedies that feature good female leads. The women in these movies embody strength of character and the intense passion needed to follow the love they need in their lives.
The Hollywood film opens on such a show of force: a Chinese mother enters a hotel in London at night to take shelter after a long flight from Singapore. But the English staff discriminates her and her children, telling them that they cannot book a room in the prestigious suite. In response, the woman buys the hotel. Yes, she has the money, and yes, the hotel staff were shamed.
The woman is Eleanor Young (Michelle Yeoh), the scary tiger mom of the retail estate empire that built the whole of Singapore. She’s fierce and controlling, but she does all that due to her love for her family.
Eleanor thinks that Rachel (Constance Wu) is bad for the future of her son Nick (Henry Golding). Nick is the heir to the Young fortune, so he cannot just marry a lowly college professor from the United States. Eleanor has to destroy the relationship to protect her son.
But Rachel is a fighter. She has mettle; she was raised by a poor single mother who taught her how to be resilient in the face of challenges. She also teaches game theory, so she knows how to respond to Eleanor’s opposition.
Rachel’s response was to show Eleanor that she can also mingle with high society. At a lush wedding, Rachel approaches Princess Intan (Kris Aquino), a Malay royal princess who is so rich that she reserved a whole row in the wedding venue so she did not have to be bothered by anyone. Princess Intan intimidates everyone, even Eleanor, but she allows Rachel to talk to her about her efforts to help women in Asia via microloans.
It was a delight to watch these strong women interact with each other. Kudos should be given to the skillful actresses who portrayed them.
Michelle Yeoh is perfect as Eleanor, because you feel her dedication to her family underneath her menacing exterior.
Constance Wu shines as Rachel. She’s lovely and kind, and you get why Henry Golding’s character fell in love with her right away.
Then there’s Kris Aquino, who makes an impact as Princess Intan despite appearing for only less than a minute. Kris was stunning and very memorable. Her role definitely was not just as an extra since she had an intellectual discussion with the lead actress.
Fil-Am Nico Santos also has a memorable turn as Oliver, the "rainbow sheep of the family," as he puts it. His fashion designer character is a scene-stealer and he displayed impeccable comedic timing, a skill no doubt honed by Nico's past experience as a standup comedian.
Sadly, not all female characters are written so well. There were a few that relied on stereotypes, like Fiona Xie ’s Kitty Pong, a flirty soap opera star and Jing Lusi’s Amanda, Nick’s vengeful ex.
Another relatively weaker character is Gemma Chan’s Astrid, a cousin of Nick who’s having problems with her marriage. The dissolution of her marriage and her relationship with her family needed more time to develop, so she deserved to appear in more scenes.
Thankfully, the mid-credits scene hints that her story will have a better focus in the upcoming sequel.
Crazy Rich Asians showcases the strength of women while following their passions. The movie is a fun and exciting look at the world of the ultra-rich without passing judgment on those who lead a life of luxury.
It takes things to the next level through clever editing and direction. One of the best sequences involves the rapid-fire spread of news regarding Nick and Rachel's plans to visit Singapore. The upbeat montage manages to depict the frenetic energy of the Internet age.
At the same time, the movie showcases age-old traditions such as the reverential treatment accorded to one's elders (particularly the grand matriarch Ah Ma) and dimsum-making lessons that aim to pass on these culinary skills to new generations.
Crazy Rich Asians captures all the best elements from Kevin Kwan's best-selling novel while infusing it with unique insights that make it a must-watch.
Ed's Note: The "PEP Review" section carries the views of individual reviewers, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the PEP editorial team.