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Lucky Grandma (M) - 88 minutes

In New York, a crotchety, old, chain smoking Chinese grandmother who lives alone with very little to her name gets lucky after exiting a casino … and then all hell breaks loose.

That’s the essence of this black comedy, which pits granny in the middle of a turf war between rival gangs.

It all starts when a fortune teller brings glad tidings to the widow, nominating a particular day for her good fortune.

Thereafter, granny pulls what little life savings she has out of the bank and steps aboard a coach to risk it all on various games of chance.

But it is only on the return journey that things take a decided turn that will shape the rest of the picture.

Suffice to say, she obtains riches that don’t belong to her.

Subsequently, she is quickly targeted, which results in her taking drastic action.

She hires a big, baby-faced bodyguard to give her ‘round the clock protection.

Only, truth be told, that doesn’t work out so well.

Before this is over there will be bloodshed, lives lost and even a kidnapping.

In the background, imploring granny to move in with them (and their children) is her son and daughter in law.

Featuring inept gangsters and a series of highly stage-managed sequences, Lucky Grandma is preposterous fun.

It plays on the idea of a defenceless, little old lady outwitting and outmanoeuvring each and every obstacle in her way.

Only, the more scrapes she manages to get out of, the closer to disaster she gets.

Lucky Grandma is the work of screenwriters Angela Cheng and Sasie Sealy, with the latter directing her first feature.

Keeping a straight face and a less than friendly disposition are the hallmarks of Tsai Chin’s (The Joy Luck Club) memorable lead performance.

It is she who makes the movie, while others are but bit players.

The laughs may not be uproarious, but there’s enough here to put smiles on a few faces in a movie that upends the heist genre.

Rated M, Lucky Grandma scores a 6½ out of 10.

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