FINISHING THE GAME

NR
Reviews

Justin Lin’s Finishing the Game is a mockumentary about the search for an actor to play the late Bruce Lee in a planned production of Lee’s famously unfinished film, Game of Death. Seemingly every Asian actor in Los Angeles turns up to audition, including Breeze Loo (sexily smirking Roger Fan), the cocky star of a myriad of martial-arts films with titles like Fist of Fuhrer; Colgate Kim (Sung Kang), a Korean good ol’ boy from Alabama, who dreams of stardom along with his manager/girlfriend Saraghina (Monique Curnen); the improbable Raja (Mousa Kraish), who has forsaken being a doctor for acting; Troy Poon (Dustin Nguyen, having survived “21 Jump Street”), a veteran actor whose resume mostly consists of delivery-boy parts, and Tarrick Tyler (McCaleb Burnett), a fiery Asian activist who, unfortunately, looks as white as George Bush.

Those characters and their names should give you a clear idea of the film’s basic obviousness and anything-for-a-yuk m.o. It’s Lin’s attempt at a Christopher Guest movie which, while rather bludgeoning in its satiric approach, nonetheless manages to eke some laughs—along with many a groan—from its ridiculous premise. (Lin also did 2002’s Better Luck Tomorrow, which also tackled Asian film stereotypes, but dramatically, and with just as heavy a hand.) What the wannabe Bruces are made to go through in the audition process—spouting horrendously cornball lines and being coached in ethnicity by Caucasian casting directors—may seem farfetched and humiliating, but, sadly, is not that far from most Asian actors’ real lives.

A lot of the gags fall thuddingly flat, but a fair number of them also land squarely on target. Definitely adding to the merriment are Jake Sandvig as the clueless projected director of the film, and, especially, the hilarious Meredith Scott Lynn, who steals the movie as his casting expert, citing “fuckability” as the primary requisite for stardom. The film is full of amusing cameos: Ron Jeremy makes an appearance on—where else?—a porn set, James Franco is a doomed TV star, and wonderful character actress Amy Hill has a juicy moment as an auditioner’s world-weary mother.