Crazy Rich Asian: the books and the movie review

The first book: Crazy Rich Asian (CRA)

The first book is more like an introduction to the CRA universe, the people, their lifestyle and their attitude. You get to know the haute couture, haute jewellery, the vintage and all sort of different high end brand more exclusive than just Hermes and Prada (BIJAN was not mention within the 3 books anyway).

It’s the cliche plot: you have lead hero that crazy rich yet don’t care about money at all, dating a girl whom didn’t know his background at all, classy and not a gold-digger as accused. Having super rich best friend and cousins that didn’t care about money, low profile and prefer finding solace in solitude rather than partying. Yet all other people are so damn materialistic, judgemental, so kepoh* and looking down on others.

The books is engaging, we ware introduced to this sophisticated world of the crazy rich. The details are fascinating. And at the end of the book, i understand why they call it satire.

Kevin Kwan brilliantly introduce us to all the characters in the CRA universe. Their public persona and their hidden back story. While the books center around Rachel, Nick and Astrid; here I am becoming fan of Oliver and Charlie 😂😂😅. And after all the drama, I really wish that the author will create ending twist where Rachel and Nick didn’t end up together (kah kah, the evil me is lurking 😂😂).

But this kind of books, it’s not the ending that matter, but the journey they going through that matter. Again, the detail are fascinating. Kevin Kwan indeed a brilliant author.

 

2nd book: China Rich Girlfriend

When I thought I know everyone already, here come the second book that introduce more crazy rich, this time mostly come from mainland China (PRC) and Hong Kong. There are more name-brand drop, and we learn more about the different social status within the elites.

The thing about sequel, it have the ability to change our perception on certain characters. My view on Eleanor and Shang Su Yi slightly differ between book 1 and 2.

But I come to love this second book more than the first one. I love Astrid storyline so much (you can make 16 episode of drama series from Astrid story alone 🤣), and believe me I rooting for Bernard way too, tho the diet thingy can be too extreme. The ending is just epic and unpredictable (the Oliver comeo part…lol), but i love it so much..haha. (Read the book please, i really don’t want to spoil anything here..haha). Note: i’m still Oliver and Charlie’s fan 😂😂. Maybe adding Chalton to the list 😂😂.

The second book is more as light reading to me, i don’t know why people in Goodreads took work of fiction too seriously. The book is hilarious. I do skip on knowing what those brand name look like, but i do google the songs mention in the book.

In China Rich Girlfriend, Kwan describe Nick as someone who look like Kim Soo Hyun

 

Kim Soo Hyun as Professor Nicholas Young? Yeay or Nay?

 

3rd book: Rich People Problem.

Dear Kevin, if you can make Nick & Rachel journey kinda smooth sailing, why you make it sooo difficult for our poor dear Astrid and Charlie? 😭😭.

Probably due to readers feedback on the 2nd book, the 3rd book have more drama than the first and second book. It feel heavier. Our favorite characters keep on facing difficulties. It never going their way like in book 1 & 2.

But it kinda good wrap up for everything. And i never guess whom Peak Lin can end up with..that ending is so genius.

But there are some story that are still left unanswered for me:
1) Why Su Yi hate Elanor so much? Is there’s a story behind it?
2) What happen during the time young Nicky running away from home? What is the real reason Philip move to Australia? Why Su Yi ask if Philip have forgive Eleanor?
3) What actually happen when Charlie and Astrid break off their engagement the first time? It’s still not clear to me.

And i do want more of Su Yi story during the war time. The fusion between flashback and present time is interesting, I always love this kind of writing. Perhaps Kevin can write a story based on young Su Yi, not a continuation or prequel of CRA, but entire different story within historical fiction genre.

There’s a lot to learn or things to be reflects  from the books. Even among the Chinese, they do look down on people that not from their circle. There’s lot of different social status among them, people struggle hard to outshine each other, but at the end of the day, to whom we want to prove our-self actually?

 

The movie:

How I imagine Oliver when reading the book:

Oliver in the movie:

His job description in the movie is more like Lincoln Tay (Ah Tock) in the book

I’m sorry, I watch too much Korean drama before. Hwarang, Scarlet Heart Ryeo, and lot of other korean drama have mislead me on how an all-Asian cast movie should look like. My imagination:

How I imagine an all Asian cast movie would look like

I don’t put much hope in watching the movie. People warn the movie is nothing like the book, but i find that the movie is still very similar to the book. Of course they can’t fit in 403 pages of book details in less than 2 hour movie.

Eleanor in the movie is more elegant than the books (read book 3 and you’ll know what i mean). It’s more like how i imagine Su Yi when I’m reading the book. Micheal Yeoh say she never read the book (i’m glad she didn’t).

These crazy rich movie and drama is not new within East Asia entertainment production. We do have Meteor Garden, Hana Yuri Dango, Boys Over Flower, The Heirs, Mei Chan No Shitsuji, Princess Hour (Goong) and hundreds more korean and chinese drama that revolve around cheabol, CEO or what ever top ranking rich guy as the lead. (Bukan kat Malaysia je ada cerita anak Datuk dan Tan Sri).

But there’s one similarity in these drama: the family object the relationship because they cannot simply take anyone into the family. The heir of the family business have big responsibility, and they need strong women who can carry herself socially as the heir spouse. Remember that one scene in Goong where the princess recklessly announce her divorce in live TV (OMG i still remember that scene until now). So in these sense, Micheal Yeah done great as Eleanor.

!!Spoiler alert!!

This also what make the film differ to the book. As the film change Nick background to be the heir of the business, thus he need to be careful in choosing his spouse; but Nick in the book is not. All the issue in the book in fact focus on the social status, while not as noble as the film, yet highlights the real issue that might happen in real life.

The mahjong scene is not within the book, so some who didn’t play mahjong might not understand the significant meaning it carry. In the movie, Eleanor didn’t accept Rachel as she is not from their circle. Being an American-born Chinese, she might not understand the culture. But Rachel keep show she knew her root. In the mahjong game, Rachel could win, but she choose not to. And by doing so, she win Eleanor heart.

My favourite in the movie is indeed Peik Lin character, her comical character, together with her family really brighten up the movie. While I do have mix feeling with Oliver character (I always imagine him as classy smart guy..huhu); I shall salute on how Bernard was portrayed in the movie. Really Ah Beng one..haha. I can’t think if there’s any better way to characterize him within the short screen time in the movie. Good job on that..haha.

Overall, the movie is light and hilarious.  In a sense, the movie do follow the book plot; but overall, it didn’t really mention on all the social status within the community. I do feel that the book stress on different thing, while the movie carry just a portion of the whole CRA universe. So please do read the books.

 

Footnote:

*kepoh is the actual Malay spelling, unlike how Kevin spell it using english pronounciation..haha

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