Ktown Cowboys (2016), a Review
Okay, so even though critics have had a lot of positive things to say about the Ktown Cowboys movie, they've mostly panned it.
I'm going to be a lot more lenient, for obvious reasons. I'm a huge fan of the original webseries, I had the honor of interviewing actor Peter Jae as well as actor/musician Bobby Choy a.k.a. Big Phony (twice, if you recall), and when they launched their fundraiser on Kickstarter, I donated. Donating kept me on their mailing list, so like thousands of dedicated fans, I got to read updates on this project for six grueling years. That's a labor of love, Bar Patrons, and I have much respect for that level of commitment.
Also, BIG shout-out to Ken Jeong for producing this bad boy; 'cause this is how you do things. When you make it, you gotta turn around and lend the fam a helping hand.
Now, before I continue, I'm gonna share the trailer so you can get a feel for the film if you haven't seen it.
All righty then.
What worked for me
For one, the movie starts off strong. I'm talking in-your-face, grabs-your-attention, piques-your-curiosity strong. When Jason (Shane Yoon) strolls into work to find his office overrun with Feds and his CFO in handcuffs, you sit up and pay attention.
I liked the look, the coloring of some scenes, and the overall polished feel of the movie.
I liked the cast and characters (obviously); I liked their assigned storylines. The strongest for me were those of Sunny's (Sunn Wee), Peter (Peter Jae), and Robby's (Bobby Choy's). Sunny has to step up and make the tough decisions now that his father is suffering from Alzheimer's. Peter has to take care of his sister from another mister, now that both of their fathers are gone (he's also an aspiring fashion designer, which was just great). And Robby is a Korean guy adopted and raised by a White couple who are more Korean than he. I'm talking cooking the food, using chopsticks, speaking the language, and encouraging him to go live and work in Korea for a while.
I liked the eye candy. I learned the names and faces of a lot of new actors, and I will be paying close attention to their careers from hereon out. Then again, that's precisely why I was rooting for this film in the first place. A lot of critics are being overly harsh; I feel they're applying the same standards to films that have greater funding and actors who've had more opportunities to this film, which was made on a budget primarily comprising prayers and favors, and artists who are very much in the midst of the struggle.
I liked the music; it was really great to see tracks from Big Phony's Long Live the Lie featured (other music of his played as well); I hope this widens his fan base even further.
I loved the cameos; Ken Jeong has a spot as himself, but I squealed through all of Daniel Dae Kim's screen time. They need to make a sequel about his character, David. Apparently, he's Peter's rugged older brother who's into some illegal stuff. When he strode into that jail cell to bail Peter out, and barked "Get the fuck up!" I screamed like a crazy woman. I would totally be down for a gritty, indie, David Dae Kim/Peter Jae film.
I liked the surprises as well; while some aspects of the film are predictable, I would never have guessed that Bobby Choy would get the sex scene (granted, it's brief, awkward and hilarious, but still). He plays the baffled awkwardness to charming perfection. I also liked when Bobby's character told his racist boss to fuck off right before moving to Korea.
I loved the bar-hopping. Obviously.
What didn't work for me, but was forgivable
Critics are right when they point out problems with pacing, editing, and voice as the film moves on, BUT...like I said earlier, this film took a while. You've got a cast spread out nationally and internationally, you've got crazy schedules to sync, and you've got budget issues. Obstacles like those tend to screw with writing, directing, and even cast chemistry. So there will be days when your actors are in the zone, and days when they've got nothing. There are days when they can play off one another, and then days when they're just not as in tune.
Stuff like this may also drive a director and/or writer to start changing things in the script at the last minute, especially when they have to consider times and places to film.
What didn't work for me at all
Once again, we've got a script written by men. *sigh* So the way women were portrayed in this film didn't work for me. They were shallow, simple, and mostly conformed to a singular aesthetic.
I hated the fat-shaming of a dohmi whom Peter took an interested in. Which is another thing; I didn't like how the majority of the women were being "pimped" in some way, and not just the professionals. It seemed like the only ways these guys could get women to hang out with them is if they paid for the company (except for Bobby's character; he has a girlfriend...but still spends his nights partying with paid female company). I was glad when Jason broke the fourth wall and pointed out that "booking" is a dying trend.
I'm over the misogynistic language and jokes.
I'm over the homophobic language and jokes.
Soooooo not a fan of the BBC jokes. The obsessively repetitive references to Black men's penises channeled a very sick White gaze.
The host bar scene just creeped me out.
As a fan of the cast and a supporter of POC in media, I had a lot of fun with this, but some sociological evolution is in order. I think films like these could gain more traction and a wider fan base if they simply removed the perfectly controllable problems.