Media across the world are buzzing about a new blockbuster release, Crazy Rich Asians. A Hollywood “romcom” might not seem like anything special, but this movie is different. Not only it is the first Hollywood movie in 25 years to feature an all Asian cast, but its entire production has centred around authentic representation of Asian culture. Even before its South African release on the 24th of August, hype has been building for weeks. It marks a new era, where South Africans (along with the rest of the world) are seeing the authentic and diverse sides of Asia – and can’t get enough of it!
The film follows Chinese-American Rachel Chu (played by Constance Wu), who is invited to meet her boyfriend’s family in Singapore. As it turns out, they are “crazy rich”, and her boyfriend may be the most eligible bachelor in the country. What follows is simultaneously hilarious and touching, as she attempts to navigate the unfamiliar culture and expectations of his upper-class family.
The film has invigorated a growing trend in passion for Asia. For a start, the scenery and food in the filming locations will excite your senses – you might find yourself planning a holiday soon after watching! Mouth-watering street-food, including at the bustling Newton Food Centre; the iconic resort looming over the sea at Marina Bay Sand, whose design was inspired by a deck of cards; and the majestic Supertree Grove at Garden by the Bay, which reimagines how nature and city-life can fit together in harmony.
But what really makes the movie stand out is the pioneering authenticity and attention to detail – something that couldn’t have come at a better time given the craze for real Asian experiences. Kwan, who wrote the book the movie is based on, organised a research trip to Asia for all the producers, so they could see first-hand the places and cultures they wanted to represent. Asian actors of various backgrounds were sought to reflect cosmopolitan Singapore, and the cast and crew gave regular inputs about everything from what food should be eaten to what language spoken in a given place, based on their own experiences.
Perhaps most importantly, each character is unique and fully-formed – someone you could imagine meeting on the street (or restaurant) in Singapore. One cannot truly understand a place without a window into the soul of its people, and the film triumphs in transporting us from our seats in the movie-theatre into Asian culture.
All of this comes together to create a movie that authentically showcases the beauty, the complexity and the diversity – even just within small parts of one Asian country! So it’s no wonder that Crazy Rich Asians netted an astounding $26.5 million on its opening weekend alone in the US – and 93% approval on Rotten Tomatoes. And it’s sure to be a smash-hit here, too!
There’s no doubt that people in South Africa, along with others across the world, are crazy about Asia. Perhaps it’s because, as the influence of various Asian cultures spreads – and we experience the authenticity of the food, the people, the places – we cannot help but fall in love. As leading actress Constance Wu said, “At the end of the day, the thing that drives people and moves people is truth and story and humanity.”
At Simply Asia, we have been pioneering in this mission – to bring an authentic experience of Asia through our passion for fantastic food. We regularly introduce exciting new dishes, each with its own unique story. Cuisine is not just a collection of ingredients: it is the product of a history, a culture and a people. We believe that by serving bold, flavoursome dishes that are true to their roots, we do more than just satisfy taste-buds and bellies – we connect people with the Asian culture that created it.