"Cowardice or Courage"
YELLOW is a Korean-American coming-of-age story about a young Korean-American named Sin Lee. Sin works in his father's central LA grocery store and is robbed the evening of high school graduation. Sin's seven friends know Sin's tyrannical father and decide to contribute and make or steal the money back for Sin. This lackluster movie is tainted by false religion and many obscenities.
Unique in its depiction of the second generation teenage Asian-American experience, YELLOW is a redemptive small art film marred by a high degree of offensive language.
Sin Lee, played with restraint by Micheal Daeho Chung, is the main character who struggles under a tyrannical father, played with moments of brilliance by Soon-Tek Oh. Sin’s father is a Korean immigrant who is afraid of starvation and failing to provide for his family.
Sin’s goal is to major in engineering at a university, but his father will not provide any funds for him to go. Sin cowers at his father’s steely words and severe demands. For example, his father demands Sin close up the family store, i.e., work until 9 or 10 on the night of graduation. Sin cannot say no. As soon as Sin leaves that night, the store is robbed.
The implications become obvious for Sin and his dedicated friends. Sin’s father demands that Sin work off the stolen $1,500. This delays Sin’s dream of college, making the unfair rule anathema to Sin and his friends. Extreme measures are warranted.
Throughout it all, Sin is in love with a pretty young woman, Teri (Mia Suh), whom he urges to come with him to San Francisco. He plans to run away that night, start a new life and attend college in the fall. Teri provides the voice of reason. Should he run? Or should he face the music rather than leave unresolved threads of anger and bitterness in his life? By the way, there is no mention of marriage in this arrangement.
YELLOW has a double meaning, not only referring to the color of Sin’s skin but also his cowardice as he faces manhood. The film portrays the paucity of Christian values in this Asian American experience because the idol for Sin and his father is success and material splendor. Thus, education and achievement from an early age become paramount. Hence, there is a lack of familial considerations between Teri and Sin and a lack of values of any kind displaying itself in the measures taken to resolve Sin’s dilemma.
With choppy direction, the production values exemplify a low budget independent film. While the acting is good, and the story complex, the narrative structure falters, and so the climax fails to satisfy. The real dilemma doesn’t begin for quite some time into the movie, and there are many diversions through the inclusion of many characters. Ultimately, the filmmaker makes an interesting commentary on the gap between first and second generation immigrants. Their experience, dreams and even language are so different from each other, it is difficult for them to relate at all. The filmmaker also suggests that when a parent wields an iron hand, regardless of the reasons, it can crush a child’s spirit rather than mold it.
In the end, Sin makes the right decision, but for much of the film, the audience is not sure what the correct decision is, so they cannot anticipate and root for it. Because of the language and the lack of Christian values, YELLOW is worthy of caution for anyone.
(Pa, Fr, LLL, V, A, M) Pagan worldview with some false religion elements such as a woman calling spirits; 76 obscenities & 7 profanities; a fist fight between men; alcohol use; and, stealing.