King of Peking (streaming on Netflix) proves that the best buddy films are created by fathers and sons.
The movie recalls the last bitter sweet summer between a Chinese parent and child until divorce forces a permanent separation.
The father is a traveling projectionist, eventual DVD pirate living on the edge in a small village that exists in an indeterminate time (most likely late 1980’s) between the end of the cultural revolution and tech revival. The town filled with decaying concrete tenements and shops still has rotary telephones and one very old but big movie theater. It is the kind fondly recalled in Cinema Paradiso.
The two bond over their movie memories, often quizzing each other on their knowledge of the classics. They playfully call each other Riggs and Murtaugh after the Lethal Weapon duo.
Director Sam Volta’s litters the music soundtrack with classics notable from Kubrick films and Scott Joplin jazz bits that made it into The Sting movies. The more attentive film fan will note scenes that nod to Truffaut and other New Wave auteurs as well as a nostalgic use of rear projection.
The Wong’s, whose name means King In mandarin, dream of having their own production company, King of Peking features– one that every movie fan will gladly buy a ticket for.