Ethan Mao

"Weak"

Ethan Mao Review


Have you ever wanted to pistol-whip your father? Of course you have, and the chance to see someone do it on-screen is pretty much the only reason to bother with Ethan Mao, an amateurish, no-budget tale of a gay teen's revenge on his uncaring family.

Tossed out of his comfortable suburban So-Cal home when his wicked stepmother finds a gay stroke mag under his bed, 18-year-old Ethan Mao (Jun Hee Lee) hits the streets to become a hustler. After all, how else is a gay teen supposed to make a living? Work at Starbucks?

Within days, Ethan becomes chums with fellow hustler Remigio (Jerry Hernandez), who takes him under his wing, gives him a place to live, and promises to teach him the ways of the street. (One of Ethan's interludes with a fat, middle-aged john shows us that the street is pretty yucky.)

Ethan knows that his family will be out of the house on Thanksgiving, and he hatches a plan to go back to retrieve a few belongings along with a necklace that was the cherished possession of his beloved late mother. Working in secret with his younger brother to get the alarm code, Ethan and Remigio get inside the house and start gathering his stuff... but then the family comes home unexpectedly.

Rather than take the holiday opportunity to share feelings and hug it out, Ethan creates a hostage situation, using his father's gun to subdue not only angry Dad but also bitchy stepmom, mean older stepbrother, and loving younger brother. It turns out they'll all have to stay put until the next morning because stepmom has put the treasured necklace in a safe-deposit box at the bank. It's going to be a long night.

Ethan enjoys his newfound power and uses it to tell everyone in the family, especially his uptight and highly traditional Chinese-American dad, exactly what he thinks of them and how he feels he's been mistreated. A little of this goes a long way, and as the hours progress everyone comes to understand each other a little better while we glance at our watches wondering whether the movie will end with a group hug or a SWAT team assault.

The acting, directing, and production are all B to C level, which is a bit surprising since Lee's earlier no-budget project Drift is an excellent indie pick. It's kind of hilarious to watch the "making of" featurette on the DVD as the actors talk about all their preparation and method and motivation. None of it shows up on screen. Sympathy for Ethan is essential to the story's success, but he comes across as a spoiled brat who should learn to lighten up a little, even if he does have a mean father and a wicked stepmother. Chill, dude, and try to find a respectable job.

My shirt or yours?



Ethan Mao

Facts and Figures

Run time: 87 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 10th November 2004

Distributed by: TLA Releasing

Production compaines: TLA Releasing

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 36%
Fresh: 4 Rotten: 7

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Ethan Mao, as Abraham Mao, Julia Nickson as Sarah Mao, Kevin Kleinberg as Josh, as Remigio

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