Baby (2008)

"Good"

Baby (2008) Review


Trumpeted by its own marketing as "the Asian-American Boyz n the Hood," Baby suffers somewhat in comparison. Yes it is a vicious and violent gang flick set on the scruffy streets of a crummy LA neighborhood, but while Boyz had some deep emotional underpinnings (remember when Cuba Gooding Jr. mattered?), Baby goes for the gun every time, and as the bodies pile up, the viewer's main response is shell shock.

Although Baby (David Huynh) was barely more than a baby when he was sent to juvie on a manslaughter rap at age 11, he emerges after seven years a traumatized young man whose entire world has passed him by. His older brother is dead, his father (Tzi Ma) has surrendered to alcohol, and even his playground crush Sammy (Christina Stacey) has a boyfriend with a BMW. Even though he takes a stab at going legit by working as a dishwasher in a Chinese restaurant, Baby knows that the only thing he's any good at is "rollin'" with a gang. Flashbacks show us how his felonious brother got young Baby involved in crime in the first place. No wonder he feels he has no options.

Baby also has revenge on his mind, and one of his first orders of business is to visit Benny (Feodor Chin), the current neighborhood kingpin against whom Baby has been holding a grudge for those seven long years. A gang war inevitably starts, and there is so much wild and random carnage that it requires an epic suspension of disbelief to accept that so many corpses could pile up in one town without the police ever putting in an appearance.

The main problem here is there is no one to root for. At times, Baby is positioned as the "gangbanger with a heart of gold." He's a victim of negligent parents, of society, of the prison system. And yet, rather than rising above it or getting on bus for Portland, Oregon or finding a new girlfriend, all he can think to do is get a gun and start killing. In fact, the only real good guy in the film is Baby's childhood friend Petey (Peter Cho), a straight arrow who begs Baby to clean up his act. But we all know what happens to goody-goodies in gang pictures.

Despite all those complaints, Baby is quite watchable, with a kickass soundtrack, MTV editing, and multiple flashbacks to keep the action moving forward (and backward). David Huynh deserves better than this script. Tiny and tattooed, he mumbles through his role, giving Baby a modulated James Dean-like angst that serves the character well. It will be interesting to see what kinds of roles he can find in the future.

Not what we'd call a babyface.



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Juwan Chung

Producer: Jason Serrato

Also starring:

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