Eye For Film >> Movies >> Ktown Cowboys (2015) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
The value of friendship, ambition and knowing how to have a good time lie at the heart of this debut feature from Daniel Park. It's based on a hit web series and very much feels like it, with an episodic structure that sometimes seems little more than a series of linked sketches. How much it appeals to you will depend on how you relate to its lead characters - but despite its focus on their ethnicity, there may be bigger cultural barriers for many viewers to get past.
Sunny (Sunn Wee), Danny (Danny Cho), Peter (Peter Jae), Robby (Bobby Choy) and Jason (Shane Yoon) are the five best bros who centre their lives on the time they spend together, though they're older than the average protagonists in a film of this type and they all have a lot going on in their professional lives. They get together for nights out in a series of neon-lit bars where they pass the time by drinking, annoying women and telling obnoxious jokes. Danny has recently ditched the day job to try and make it as a stand-up comedian, and the film will have us believe that if he just believes in himself enough, soon everybody will be laughing at his misogynistic humour. The focus of the film, however, is on Jason, whose position at his uncle's company has made his life easy despite his dislike of hard work, but who finds himself in trouble when a colleague's investment disaster threatens ruin. Now he must charm both his uncle and a potential investor in order to maintain himself in the style to which he has become accustomed.
With relatively few feature films focused on Korean Americans, Ktown Cowboys undoubtedly has cultural value, but it's a little unclear who it's supposed to be aimed at. As with much of the Jewish humour in in Woody Allen's Annie Hall, the frequently inserted comments about what it's like to be part of this group seem more likely to elicit laughs from people already a part of it, obvious though they are, than to interest outsider. Jokes about booking bars and Starcraft are very much insider humour and are better when they're not explained. Some Korean Americans will find this approach rather twee and others will find themselves directly excluded - there's a lot of laughing at fat women here, for instance - but in other places the humour hits home. More of a problem is the structure through which it's introduced. Jason's cheesy narration is very prescriptive about what we're supposed to take from the film, and very shallow.
If you're looking for a lighthearted romp that celebrates the values of capitalism and provides reassurance that good things happen to mediocre people, Ktown Cowboys may hit the spot. Though it doesn't bear up to more in depth analysis, it's a cheery celebration of LA life seen from a different angle.Reviewed on: 18 Mar 2016