Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I’ve seen an obnoxious character or two in my life of sitting on my ass and watching movies, but in the lexicon of obnoxious characters in movies I gotta say that Jimmy Tsai’s Christopher ‘C-Dub’ Wang has to be a finalist in the running to be the most obnoxious of them all. Top ten at the very least. Super serious Oscar winning director Jessica Yu has teamed up with young Mr. Tsai to create an irreverent, mostly funny slacker comedy from a different cultural perspective with ‘Ping Pong Playa’.

We first meet Christopher – I’m sorry but I will not be able to call my man C-dub. Besides, Christopher is easily the greatest name ever. Anyway, we first meet Christopher mad ballin’ with some little shorty’s on a 7-foot rim on the play ground wearing his perquisite NBA gear and kicking lingo that makes Christopher sound a lot like a ‘Menace 2 Society’ reject. Alas Christopher should probably be at work instead of balling this fine day, but this is one of the young man’s issues in life as he does lack responsibility. Outside of Christopher’s delusion in regards to his basketball skills, his life looks pretty OK to me in his idyllic sunny Southern California surroundings as he has a caring father (Jimmy Lau) who runs the family owned Ping Pong shop and a loving and protective mother (Elizabeth Sung) who mans a ping pong class down at the local school. He also has an M.D. brother in Michael (Roger Fan) who is the anti-Christopher and is the local king of Ping Pong, plus he has super cool African American best friend in J.P. (Khary Payton) who has the ambition to one day dominate the Asian trade markets.

Anyway, some stuff happens which has forced Christopher to take over his mother’s ping pong classes, an opportunity he uses to hustle his mother’s students out of their lunch money. The good thing about these classes is that he’s become the defacto big brother to little Felix (Andrew Vo) and this is a good thing because this introduces Christopher to his big sister Jennifer (Smith Cho) who is the absolute, honest to

goodness truth.  We kid you not on this.  Mind you Christopher is still doing his Christopher thing, bringing much shame to his family and showing no signs of getting better until some rather rude ping pong playing Anglos seemed primed to steal the ping pong championship this year, plus the lead Anglo Gerald (Peter Paige) is opening a competing Ping Pong academy and worst, he’s aggressively pushing up on the beautiful Jennifer. Now just from my personal vantage point it would seem to me that Christopher shouldn’t have to worry too much about Gerald and his little buddy, at least in regards to Jennifer, because neither of them seem like the type that likes girls all that much… but that’s just my casual observation and I could very well be wrong there. But I am thinking that you probably don’t need to be Billy D. to win the competition on that one. Regardless, with Michael being disabled and unable to defend his title and being that this ping pong tournament is a pretty big deal for the family well-being, the family pride has fallen to Christopher, who has to do some growing up real quick-like and find a way to kick the ass of those rude, gay Anglos so that the Golden Cock trophy can remain in the Wang family.

‘Ping Pong Playa’ is a really funny flick, at least for the most part. As is not uncommon in wacky comedies there are the occasional lulls and there are also points where the intended humor falls a bit flat, and we have to admit the plot as it were isn’t the most inventive around but once you get past all of that, and I certainly had no problem getting past of all of that, this is still a very enjoyable ride.

Despite the borderline nauseating behavior of our man Christopher, Jimmy Tsai still managed to make the character likable enough so that we did root for him at the end, and the man was pretty damn funny. In addition to the numerous humorous scenes, the performances by the supporting actors helped push ‘Ping Pong Playa’ over the top, particularly those tossed in by Elizabeth Sung and Jimmy Lau playing Christopher’s parents and also Khary Payton who was dealt a much better hand in this flick than the one he was dealt in the last movie I saw him in where he got to play the thankless role of the Black Dude Destined for Death in one of those worthless Hellraiser sequels.

Probably more importantly is that this is the far too rare film that is based around Asian American Culture, and director Jessica Yu insures that this comedy doesn’t shy away from the occasional social message or attack a stereotype here and there, and that is always appreciated.

My one request would be that Jimmy Tsai, should he be slumming around the net and happen to read this, send me on of those Venomtm  Jerseys.  Like General Motors, Ford and Chrysler… I’m not too proud to beg.  Size 4XL, white on Black.  Much appreciated - and it will be worn on my next televised episode of Totally Twisted Flix.  It is a real TV show and I am the real host and you can even Google it if one feels the need so…  Let me know what’s up with that so I can send you a shipping address.

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