Crime stories can feel like a dime a dozen so when a new inventive story comes along, it’s easy to sit up and notice, especially if the protagonist is a chain-smoking no-nonsense Grandma from Chinatown who gets mixed up with gangsters, the mob, and her grandson’s TikTok videos.

After visiting a fortune teller who predicts she will have good luck coming her way ‘Grandma’ goes all in at a casino but ends up winning big in a very different scenario when a guy on the bus dies, leaving behind a bag full of cash Grandma takes the lot home. With gangsters and mob members claiming that the money is theirs, Grandma hires a bodyguard to protect her and her stolen stash. However, chaos still ensues when her grandson is kidnapped and she will do anything to keep him safe. Apart from giving back the money of course.

Despite being about a Grandma acquiring money in an unusual way and having her getting mixed up with gangsters, as well as her potentially harming a tentative bond with her family, the real magic in the story is between Grandma and her budget bodyguard, Big Pong. Throughout the chaos that she inflicts knowingly and unwittingly, the quiet placid scenes where Big Pong eats dinner with Grandma and watches Chinese dramas is both wholesome and comforting to watch. We, the audience knows what could happen but we can enjoy these precious and basic pleasures just like these two characters. Her blunt questions about his private life come across as rude but underneath, as she gets used to his presence and company, this prying comes from a caring person who doesn’t gel with her own family.

Featuring the darkest of black humour, this frantic crime story at times loses its way and direction, whether it’s going for a comedic route or whether it’s going to be hard-hitting drama especially when its switches gears at Grandma’s desperate explanation for her actions. However, Tsai Chi manages to bring forth all the emotions and action needed for the role that was really made for her. There is nothing quite like Lucky Grandma and hopefully, this will open the flood gates to more outside of the box storytelling.

Dir: Sasie Sealy

Prd: Krista Parris, Cara Marcous

Scr: Sasie Sealy, Angela Cheng

Cast: Tsai Chin, Hsiao-Yuan Ha, Michael Tow, Yan Xi, Wai Ching Ho

DoP: Eduardo Enrique Mayén

Music: Andrew Orkin

Year: 2020

Country: USA

Running time: 87 minutes

Signature Entertainment presents Lucky Grandma on Digital HD 9 November

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