It follows the lives of Asian American gang members in Atlanta, GA and their struggle to assimilate. It’s “a story of the American dream derailed,” as described on the film’s website.
In her interview with NBC, director Eunice Lau asks “What happened to those guys who didn’t take the ‘prescribed’ route to success?”
Many believe all Asian Americans study hard, attend good schools and get a white-collar job, but that is not always true as the film shows.
Lau spent three years filming two second generation Asian American immigrants and gang members. She points out that there is confusion with identity among the men in the film and in their search for better opportunities.
In the film, gang leader Eugene Chung speaks about the men, “There was no one to look up to. They saw someone like me who had a lot of money and a lot of power, and that’s who they wanted to be.” Read Chung’s testimonial.
Chung agreed to be interviewed for the film, but was later arrested by the FBI on charges of extortion, drug trafficking and firearms offenses during production in 2013.
The film illustrates how instability and not being able to assimilate ultimately led these men to gang life and how fellow gang members became their closest family. Poverty and language barriers are often the obstacles that prevent these men from assimilating, but the film does show how some were trying to turn their lives around.
During filming, the production crew was especially moved when they interviewed a mother of a gang leader who became emotional because she was never asked about how her life has been.
Filmmaker Spike Lee heard of Lau’s project and gave her a grant to suppport her film. After he saw some of the footage, Lee told Lau that the film is “not about the gang.” Lau agreed. “It’s about the struggle, to really understand what is the struggle and why they are angry,” she said.
The film will be available with English and Korean subtitles. It is currently in post-production and is expected to be completed in 2015.