18-year-old Alfred “Boogie” Chin (Taylor Takahashi) is a skilled basketball player, with dreams of scoring a full-ride scholarship to one of the Big Ten schools and ultimately play in the NBA. He lives in Flushing Queens, and his parents just transferred him to City Prep so that he can play against the number one player in the five boroughs, Monk (Bashar “Pop Smoke” Jackson), and get noticed by the scouts. However, Boogie has a bit of an attitude and a temper, which is scaring away some of the recruiters. Schools seem to be happy to welcome him onto their teams, but no one is willing to go the extra mile and offer him a scholarship spot. Boogie is also rude to Coach Hawkins (Domenick Lombardozzi), even though he only wants the best for Boogie. Boogie doesn’t follow the coach’s plays, and refers to the team as “hot trash”, thinking he’s better than everyone else and there to be the team’s savior.
Boogie’s parents emigrated to the U.S. just before he was born, and he was brought up with very traditional Chinese values. His mother (Pamelyn Chee) is the more practical and concerned parent, who is always worrying about things like past due bills. She is a bit of a control freak and wants to hire a manager Melvin (Mike Moh) to help her son’s career. She sees the situation more like a business, rather than genuinely encouraging and believing in her son’s talents. Boogie’s father (Perry Yung), is the opposite. He’s irresponsible and laid back, and Mrs. Chin insists that her son gets his attitude and temper from him. Mr. Chin spent some time in jail, and now drives a town car to support the family. He’s a bit of a dreamer like his son, happily encouraging his son’s love of basketball, and even helps him practice. The Chins have a very strained marriage, and it’s a wonder why they are still together, though it is likely a cultural thing.
While Boogie pursues his love of basketball and works hard to get noticed by the recruiters, he’s less interested in his school work. He finds it difficult to connect with the books he is assigned to read. Though he does make a connection with new classmate Eleanor (Taylour Paige), who initially doesn’t care for his crude attempts to win her over.
While at first glance Boogie may seem like film about the underdog overcoming the odds to become a professional basketball player, but it is much more about friends and family, and the clashing of traditional and modern cultures and values. Boogie often finds himself at odds with his traditional upbringing. While there are parts of his culture that he cherishes and embraces, there are also those that feel outdated and not in line with his own goals. This causes him to be at odds with folks like his mother. Boogie also sees that his situation is not unique. His best friend Richie (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) has a mother who works for the New York Times, while his father is Dominican and hasn’t been in the picture, while Eleanor’s family is from Trinidad. All three of them feel slightly adrift living in a country where they have always been in the minority, with cultures and traditions that others may not understand.
Boogie marks the directorial debut of Eddie Huang, who also wrote the film. Huang is probably best known for Fresh Off The Boat, a sitcom that was based off his own memoir. However, with this film, the story feels a lot more raw and personal. It’s not a comedy, but a slice-of-life drama, exploring how this son of immigrants tries to follow his dreams and make a name for himself while still keeping a sense of where he came from. At the same time, he must deal with the conflicting reactions of his family and friends, who have their own opinions and ideals. Meanwhile, he’s also falling in love for the first time, and learning how to express his feelings—something his parents weren’t the best role models for. I quite enjoyed the film as it followed the complex lives of these flawed characters that you don’t often get to see in major films. Initially I was expecting more of the typical uplifting sports underdog story, but these characters’ lives cannot be boiled down to the trope of winning a championship game will magically solve everyone’s problems. The performances felt fresh and believable, and a lot of that is due to newcomer Taylor Takahashi, who shines in this role—I never would have guessed this was his first acting job. Eddie Huang also makes a guest appearance as Boogie’s Uncle Jackie.
Universal’s Blu-ray release looks and sounds great. It features a clean, sharp picture that captures the rich colors of the city and provides a solid level of detail, whether Boogie is on the court, at home, or walking through the city. The audio track captures the ambiance of the city, showcases the film’s excellent urban soundtrack, and provides clear dialogue (though a large portion of the film is subtitled, particularly scenes involving Boogie’s family).
The Blu-ray disc is packed in a standard HD keepcase with a slipcover. The release also includes a sheet with redemption instructions for an HD Movies Anywhere-compatible digital copy of the film, plus a bonus Universal All-Access Rewards points code that can be used for a free digital movie or towards other rewards. The disc contains about 7 minutes of making-of featurettes, but the content is a bit repetitive across the features.
- 1080p / Widescreen 2.39:1
- Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish DTS Digital Surround 5.1, French DTS Digital Surround 5.1, English DVS (Descriptive Video Service)
- Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
- HD digital copy redeemable via Movies Anywhere or Vudu
- Universal All-Access Rewards Code (Offer may not be valid after 12/31/2025)
Code can be redeemed for points towards a free digital movie or other items in the new Universal All-Access Rewards program. The selection of free digital titles changes every month.
Digital (code may not be valid after 6/30/2022):
- The Road to Boogie-town (2:32)
Writer/director Eddie Huang talks about how he met and Taylor Takahashi (“Alfred ‘Boogie’ Chin”) playing basketball and thought he would be perfect to play “Boogie”. Takahashi discusses the challenges of taking on this role and what it was like working with Ediie. Co-stars Taylour Paige (“Eleanor”) and Domenick Lombardozzi (“Coach Hawkins”) talked about working with Takahashi. Includes clips and behind-the-scenes footage.
- Eddie Huang: It’s Personal (2:07)
Writer/director Eddie Huang talks about exploring his spirt, history and past through the character of “Boogie”, using basketball as the vehicle. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with stars Domenick Lombardozzi, Taylor Takahashi & Taylour Paige.
- Shout Out to Pop Smoke (1:20)
Writer/director Eddie Huang talks about the character of “Monk” and what Pop Smoke brought to the role.
- In-Theater Trailer (2:16)
While billed as a trailer, it’s more of a making-of featurette with film clips and lots of the same interview clips used in the other featurettes.
Boogie is an interesting slice-of-life drama, using basketball as the vehicle to explore things like clashing of traditional and modern cultures, and falling in love for the first time when you don’t really have any role model in that regard. The first is a solid directorial debut for Eddie Huang, who also wrote the script. Universal’s Blu-ray features a solid technical presentation but the bonus material is a bit disappointing both in quantity and substance. The film itself is certainly worth a look.