Movie Review: Everything Before Us

Title: Everything Before Us
Directors: Philip Wang and Wesley Chan (Wong Fu Productions)
Cast: Aaron Yoo, Brittany Ishibashi, Brandon Soo Hoo, Victoria Park, Randall Park, Joanna Sotomura, Chris Riedell, Ki Hong Lee
Genre: Indie, Drama, Romance
Running Time: 100 minutes
Stream ($4.99) | Download ($14.99) | Bundle packages

Plot
What if everyone had an emotional integrity score akin to a credit score? Would that aid in people’s quest for love and happiness? Everything Before Us attempts to answer these questions through two contrasting yet parallel relationships.

He Said
Wong Fu was one of the pioneers who truly showed that content on YouTube could be as entertaining, if not even more creative and endearing than anything on TV/movies. Asian casting aside, for the Asian viewer in the US, their productions often have relatable and genuine themes that are not addressed by mainstream media. While I am not a regular viewer/follower, I do recognize their tremendous growth in production values throughout the years. Everything Before Us is their first full-length motion picture effort. Similar to a lot of their shorts, the movie’s main focus is on love and relationships (which is probably Wong Fu’s specialty) in a post-modern world in which the government tries to protect against hurtful/bad relationships. The cinematography was beautiful, but the storyline was rather predictable. Perhaps they were not accustomed to such a long running time — I felt like it was a bit drawn out. While there were some good scenes, as a whole it didn’t draw me in like some of their shorts (such as “The Last“) and there wasn’t that usual resonance.

She Said
This is an incredibly difficult movie review for me to write. I have supported Wong Fu’s works for years. I did not hesitate to make monetary contributions to their movie campaign. They provided a very intriguing premise and detailed a thorough budget plan. [They make very convincing grant writers, if I may say. :P] Along the filming process, I was given updates and the anticipation greatly built. I believed in their visions. Due to all that, my thoughts may be biased. More importantly, I approached this movie with high expectations. Did it deliver? Yes and no. As expected, the film was artistic and thought-provoking. The problem is that the premise (introduced months before the film was made) already provoked all these thoughts and conversations. The film, in my opinion, did not further illuminate the premise. It did not deliver an emotional punch. But overall, it was a beautiful attempt — they might want to fasten the pace a bit and dial down on the cheesiness a bit for their next feature film. :) In the end, I am still proud of what Wong Fu achieved and will still be their supporter.

We Say
This was a movie made for fans and with the support of fans. Its success through crowdsourcing paved a way for independent filmmakers looking for a nontraditional route to produce art. Cheers to new media!

Our favorite scene from the movie:

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8 comments

  1. This movie was bad. I mean real bad. The problem is is simple. Wong Fu’s corny love videos work well in 5 minute bursts on youtube. But to make an entire full length movie without stepping outside their comfort zone of cheesy, hire my friends, similar plot line videos won’t work. It’s a shame for wong fu supporters but it’s reality. If they keep on this same old track there will never be a second film that makes any real splash in the entertainment industry. Also I’m all for asian pride but when you only feature asians in your videos then immediately other races of people are going to think “Well these films clearly aren’t intended for me.” It’s time to step outside your comfort zone wong fu. You’re at a crossroads. Make the best of it.

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    1. Totally agree. I enjoy Wong Fu shorts, but this feature was a total disaster. I’ve never watched a movie before where I actually wanted to vomit, but the cheesiness and lack of plot (someone needs to teach Wong Fu what story math is) made me cringe. I still don’t regret supporting their indiegogo campaign though; they’ve provided enough free short films that they deserved some of my monetary support. However, count me out for their next feature, if they have the guts to make another one. My biggest fear is that no one is telling Wong Fu that this movie is just plain awful. They honestly needed someone to take a hard look at their script and say “this sucks balls.”

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      1. Thanks for your comment, Chelsea! Perhaps we can frame the film as artsy, which typically introduces an original concept instead of being plot-driven. I tend to think that a plot-driven movie is like a novel condensed whereas an artsy film is a short story elaborated. :)

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    2. Thanks for your comment, Peter! It’s unfortunate that you feel so strongly against Wong Fu’s effort. We agree that their strength lies in shorts. However, we feel their ideas are powerful and original — just that the full-length format didn’t work. Yet. We remain optimistic about what they can achieve in the future. :)

      As for the race issue… Your comment that non-Asians won’t watch this film is similar to saying Asians shouldn’t watch Hollywood productions. That certainly isn’t the case.

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  2. I’ve been looking for a review of the film that was actually honest, and not some review written by some fan girl who has nothing to say but positive things about a movie that wasn’t good at all.

    As I feared, the problems that they have in their short videos will show up in this movie such as the writing and acting. Honestly, their ideas aren’t that original, the most original idea they’ve had is this movie, but they’ve failed in the execution and writing. Original ideas are pretty easy to come up with, it’s the writing and execution that’s difficult. One of the big problem is that there is no one criticizing them, and if someone does, the teenage fans go to defend them, and so they don’t think there’s a problem. Other than production value, there hasn’t really been an improvement in the things they make, and they’ve been the same for so long that I’m afraid they aren’t able to criticize themselves honestly. At this point, I don’t think there’s hope for them in making anything I would like personally. If by now they haven’t realized this problem, then I don’t know how they can ever do so.

    In this review you seem reluctant to say that you didn’t really like the film, because you went in wanting to love it. That’s part of the problem, people are too apologetic and just let things slide, making excuses on why it’s okay that it wasn’t that good and ending a review on a positive note. If we want them to improve, you have to give them tough love. Honestly, if you saw this movie and didn’t know it was Wong Fu, would you have been more harsh in the review? I think you would.

    They need some harsh criticism and people need to stop making excuses for them. I want them to succeed because I want more asian creators out there, but I certainly don’t want Wong Fu as a representative at their current state.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The movie was terrible. Phillip Wang even said to people who were critical of the film “We don’t need fans like that”. Which say to me that they only surround themselves with people that worship them. How do they expect to grow as film makers if they cannot take constructive criticism. I guess there’s a reason why their subscribers and fan base has remained stagnant.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Let’s just take a moment to conceal whatever negativity or hatred we have towards wong fu and just appreciate their first film. Cmon people, IT’S THEIR FIRST FILM. There’s no need to go on a massive rant by indicating their flaws or whatever you have against them. The notion of love in the movie is original and racial aspect of the movie is unique. So whatever criticism you have, save it. People don’t need that sort of thing. Thank you

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  5. Actually I DID notice the casting nearly right away – which got me super curious about where th movie was made. I was also curious to know if about if there was a specific socio-cultural objective intentionally being attempted. I did some research, learned a bit about the process for these two men, remain amazed at how filmmaking has become attainable for so many gifted creative types. After I read about the Crowdsourcing and the artistic history I returned to the film to watch it thru to the end. I actually often like slow moving movies as long as the character is deep enough to really HOLD my interest even during relatively glacial slowness scenes. I think there needed to be just a bit something more to make that happen completely but I didn’t zone out or anything. And I became fascinated by the use of sounds, like NEARLY MUSIC? on this soundtrack. I’ve noticed this on at least two indi films and while i prefer real music i get what effect is being sought, and also i get that those sounds are royalty free.

    I commend these guys for operating outside the mainstream. I am not comparing the two films at all but I was also delighted to learn about TANGERINE and watch it as a brand new means to an end for young artists. It seems as though all the sudden film making has become something that we regular people can achieve if we are devoted enough. EVERYTHING changes when you are entertained by a movie ENTIRE SHOT USING PHONES.

    With regards to the alternate route to bringing their vision to fruition I think there is a major leaning for all dreamers, visionaries and artists who have access to these films. Making a movie is suddenly possible. The nearly sudden change in the power politics of movie making has real meaningful for everyone. Artistic vision never need be sacrificed again; No longer is making a movie an elite venture. I’m so excited t see what comes next and regardless of the ways in which this film can pave the way fr improvement it is only proper that we honor the FACT that 2 young men who wanted to make a movie, found a way to make a movie.Not just some school indi project: NETFLIX picked this movie up. I seriously doubt Netflix has any ulterior motive in choosing to include this movie with their offerings.

    As for being able to predict the plot: this may be true but the concept presented in this film has already won points with “not in the know” watchers like myself. I believe the fact that the film did not present an entirely NEW concept to shake us up a bit is irrelevant ad actually I would not want to dilute the issue of moral responsibility and the entire complicated scenario of government involvement with those kinds of evaluations. There are a lot of layers in presenting the concept of a rating system for emotional integrity. I value the presentation of this concept in this movie and DO NOT WANT to switch to a different BIG ISSUE/ question. I want to honor this concept and talk about this idea with people who would not otherwise be exposed to a conversation like that. It is ENOUGH that the film focuses on an unusual concept such as this. IF THE END IS TOO MUNDANE we should remember that the filmmaker has the VISION to bring us the message they burn to deliver. That message is their passion. That message is ENOUGH. So even if the end is able to be predicted that is actually beautiful: as humans we LEARN NEW CONCEPTS by being introduced to them, sitting with then and then having the new information reinforced and reviewed. The “predictable” end to the movie is one way of driving home the point, sort of reiterating their core message. We should be evolved enough to allow some emphasis on delivered content as well as the introduction of additional interpretations of this delivered content as influenced by the filmmaking tools of cinematography, music, pace, silence, and all those things that the film presents to us on a level that greatly impacts us but of which we are usually unaware.
    I’m very excited to see then work of people who are voicing their passions, using their vision, finding a way to make art. I’m very inspired by the buzz on this page for this movie, even if it is mostly nattering with no supporting facts. It serves me to find the beauty in the film and ALSO in the clear case of: one step for these filmmakers and a GIANT STEP into a different world for all aspiring film makers from this very moment and into our future. Movies and movie making clearly are never ever going to be the old way again. In these movies, these alternately managed movies, everything that used to be true of the journey of making a film is no longer even comprehensible as a SINGULAR TRUTH. The truth just changed. There is no longer only INDUSTRY in this art.
    So as far as giving us a lasting and important shift in the way we perceive the world I believe we can give these guys a one HELL yes and then a SECOND hell yes. Hell yes #1 is for finding a way to make a movie. Fund a movie. Produce a movie THAT NETFLIX PICKED UP. They are an integral part of the current redefinition of what it means to be able to make a movie Hell yeah #2 is for gifting us with a chance to ponder what it would be like to live with true accountability.

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