Review of raunchy comedy about Asian-American women, ‘Joy Ride’

August 7, 2023 Mario Bautista 426 views

Joyride1‘JOY Ride’ is a raunchy comedy film about friendship between Asian women directed by an Asian, Adele Lim (her first time), and written by Asians Cherry Chevapravatdumrong and Teresa Hsiao. It was released in local theaters but was quickly obliterated at the box office as it was shown simultaneously with “Insidious: The Red Door”, a mammoth hit in Manila.

The film starts when two of the main characters meet as little kids in playground in Seattle. Audrey Sullivan is a Chinese girl adapted by a Caucasian couple while Lolo Chen is born and raised in the USA with Chinese parents. Lolo defends Audrey from a racist white boy bully and their friendship for life is sealed.

Audrey is now a lawyer (played by Ashley Park) while Lolo (Sherry Cola) is an artist whose works are unabashedly focused on sex. Audrey is so work-oriented and set for promotion in the law firm she works for, but only if she could close a deal with a Chinese businessman in Beijing.

She then flies to China, accompanied by Lolo and her cousin, called Deadeye (Sabrina Wu), an obvious social outcast who is a huge K-pop fan. All Asian Americans, they meet up in Beijing with Kat (Stephanie Hsu, an Oscar nominee for her role as Michelle Yeoh’s daughter in “Everything Everywhere All at Once”), Ashley’s best friend in college who is now an actress.

Kat stars in a popular costume drama where she is paired with her fiance, Clarene (Desmond Chaim), a hunk who is a hard core Christian and wants to remain pure before his wedding to Kat. The four women get to meet Chao (Ronnie Chieng), the Chinese businessman Audrey has to deal with.

Chao says he wants to meet Audrey’s birth mother and Lolo lies to him and says Audrey is really close to her biological mom when the truth is that she is not at all interested to meet her. But now, she has no choice but to look for her mother in Beijing so she can present her to Chao.

This is where all the hilarious shenanigans begin. On the train to the place of Audrey’s adoption agency, they get to share a cubicle with a blonde girl who turns out to be a drug dealer.

When cops come looking for drug traffickers, they are forced to take the dealer’s drugs to avoid being arrested. They were ejected from the train in the middle of nowhere.

A team of basketball players give them a ride and what follows is a series of bed scenes that show how promiscuous the three girls are. Deadeye doesn’t have sex but only gets to dance with one of the players who injures himself while dancing.

But that’s not the end of their woes. Audrey finds out that she’s not really Chinese. Her mom is a Korean teenager who just stayed in China to deliver her illegitimate child there and have it adopted.

So now, they have to go to Korea. But their passports have been stolen, so to get to Seoul, they have to pretend that they are a group of Korean performers and they even get to do a big choreographed song and dance number.

During their number, Kat’s skirt has a wardrobe malfunction and exposes her vagina, which turns out to have a tattoo of the devil. Worse, Lolo was taking a video of their number and the live stream showing Kat’s private part goes viral, seen by countless viewers, causing a scandal that makes the celibate Clarence dump her.

As a result, the four women have a big fight and Audrey is also fired from her law office. But not to worry, since this is meant to be a feel good movie and all the kinks in their relationships are eventually solved for a peaceful reconciliation and a happy ending.

The humor in the movie is obviously meant to be like that of “The Hangover”, the 2009 big blockbuster super risque comedy about four male friends who go to Las Vegas for a bachelor party and meet all sorts of funny misadventures while there. It was so successful that it had two sequels.

We’re afraid “Joy Ride” will not follow in its footsteps as it didn’t really do well at the U.S. box office. Honestly, we felt uncomfortable while watching the women here do all sorts of sex-related things. There are some insightful lines about cultural identity and how it is to be an Asian in a predominantly white America, but they seem to be incidental.

The emphasis is on uncouth jokes and those with finer sensibilities might even find all the shameless bawdiness and the outrageous, grossed out, foul mouthed humor in this low brow comedy, spiced up with drugs and threesomes, simply quite crude and offensive.

Call us conservative, traditional, whatever… but we still prefer women who are pure and not too aggressive and promiscuous when it comes to sex. But even in local films, women are no longer portrayed as the virtuous heroine who’d have sex only in marriage.

They are now as slutty as their Western counterparts who engage freely in pre-marital sex and have no qualms about doing it with various men, specially the women in Vivamax debauched sex flicks who are totally brazen.

In fairness to the cast of “Joy Ride”, they all perform with frenetic energy and rise to the challenge of delivering well the weirdly hysterical x-rated screenplay.