Monday, September 27, 2021

A Shot Through the Wall - 2021 LAAPFF Movie Review

The Movie: A Shot Through the Wall

The Director: Aimee Long

The Cast: Kenny Leu, Ciara Renee, Tzi Ma, Fiona Fu, Lynn Chen, Clifton Davis

The Story: A Chinese-American police officer's life unravels after he accidentally shoots an innocent Black man. Facing trial, he wades through his guilt as he navigates the complicated worlds of media, justice, racial politics and his own morality.

The Review:
From what I understand, this story was inspired by actual events that occurred in 2012 although not meant to be the same people in any way. Writer, director, and producer Aimee Long throws a heck of a lot into her story about race, about family, about the media, about policing, and about the generational divide especially between immigrant parents and their American born children. If that sounds pretty heavy, it's meant to be, I mean this is pretty heavy material and there's a lot to explore so don't expect fairy tale endings or breezy, easily wrapped up storylines. It makes you think and that's a good thing.

That being said, this movie is absolutely a worthwhile one to watch simply because it does take a deep dive into the inner workings of everything I touched on above as well as how an incident like this impacts the mental well being of everyone involved. I feel like every character at least gets a moment or two that appropriately examines what they are going through and how the shooting has impacted their daily lives and emotional well being. Kenny Leu plays the lead character Mike Tan and he does most of the heavy lifting as far as what I just mentioned and I like how he and the director make sure that Tan has faults and makes bad decisions because that's exactly what any of us would do when faced with such strong adversity.

I mean, I've been in highly stressful circumstances and situations and had no idea what making the right decision even meant, I was just trying to survive or get through them so I really like how Tan's story unfolds. It's real, it's authentic, and it shows how a human being can be railroaded through a system of injustice that claims to be all about justice. I understand that's a bit of a loaded statement but it's absolutely true and Long's story is evidence of that even if it is fictional. There are a lot of truths in what the director is saying with this movie and I hope it opens people up to taking a hard look at how our justice system operates and how it treats everyone from normal citizens to its own officers. Now that I think about it, the story even explores what a normal citizen is or even if there is such a thing.

Aside from Kenny Leu in the lead role, it was great to see Tzi Ma as Mike's father and Fiona Fu as Mike's mother. Ma has become the ultimate dad over the last several years so he fits the bill perfectly here and Fiona Fu has some really powerful moments in the film. Her performance might actually be the best work of anyone in the movie. It was also great to see her and Tzi Ma in another movie together after they both appeared in Alan Yang's Tigertail last year.

Lynn Chen, who I am a big fan of, plays Mike's sister and she has also done a great job of exploring some of the types of things present in this movie in her own film I Will Make You Mine as well as Mari Walker's debut feature film, See You Then. Ciara Renée, who you may recognize as Kendra Saunders aka Hawkgirl from DC's family of TV shows, is also on board as Mike's fiancé Candace, and legendary TV actor Clifton Davis appears as Candace's father and again each of them has great opportunity to explore and flesh out their characters.

The Verdict:
A Shot Through the Wall is a powerful feature film debut for director Aimee Long and the production is made that much better by a stellar cast that seems to clearly understand the gravity and importance of the material they are working with.

To keep track of all my reviews and festival coverage please go to: TwoOhSix at 2021 LAAPFF.

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