February 19, 2010

Directed by Juwan Chung

The eponymous hero of Juwan Chung's second feature film Baby (2008) is a young man who - drawn to a brotherhood of thugs that seems more nurturing than his home life - gets swept up in Southern California Asian American gang life. His junior membership in the gang leads to a seven-year lockup, during which he learns to take criminality to new heights. Lead actor David Huynh portrays the violence of Baby's life with touching vulnerability. At times, though, the exaggerated thuggish swagger wears thin (think Goodfellas but with more usage of "biiitch"). In fact, it's in the quiet in-between moments, and not in the hyperkinetic beatdown scenes or in the musically enhanced dramatic climaxes, where the characters and their struggles truly shine. These quieter moments give insight into Baby's moral conflicts and highlight the deep flaws and redeeming qualities that exist in us all. Baby could have provided more of these moments, which would have counterbalanced its gangster bluster and revealed more dynamic elements of the story. - Sylvie Kim


Sylvie Kim

contributing editor & blogger

Sylvie Kim is a contributing editor at Hyphen. She previously served as Hyphen's blog coeditor with erin Khue Ninh, film editor, and blog columnist.

She writes about gender, race, class and privilege in pop culture and media (fun fun fun!) at and at SF Weekly's The Exhibitionist blog. Her work has also appeared on Racialicious and Salon.