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Documentary Review

Documentary Review: “A-Town Boyz” – Asian Struggles in Atlanta’s Urban Gangs Scene



A-Town Boyz” is a compelling documentary that explores the overlooked American Dream of sons of Asian immigrants who find themselves drawn to the gritty allure of gang life as they confront racism, seek acceptance, and navigate the streets of Atlanta. 

Directed by Eunice Lau, the film masterfully weaves together the stories of its three main subjects, providing an intimate and authentic portrayal of their lives over several years.

The documentary introduces us to Vickz, a 25-year-old aspiring rapper affiliated with the Asian Gangster Crips (AGC) sect. Throughout the film, we witness his internal conflict as he pursues his passion for music while grappling with the complexities of the gangster lifestyle. Vickz’s story unveils the challenges he faces in the music industry as an Asian artist and also delves into his family dynamics, showcasing the struggles of his Korean parents trying to succeed in America.

Bizzy, another aspiring rapper and Vickz’s friend provides a different perspective as a 21-year-old of Cambodian descent. Having joined the AGC sect at the age of 13, Bizzy‘s family history is revealed as part of the “second wave of Asian immigrants” escaping the aftermath of the Vietnam War. The film introduces us to his grandmother, who ran a gambling den for years, adding layers to the narrative that this documentary provides.

Eugene Chung and his gang.

The third subject of the film is Eugene Chung, a 37-year-old Korean-American gang leader in Atlanta, who emerges as a captivating figure with a complex life. Originally from Bensonhurst in Brooklyn, NY, Chung’s character is painted vividly, portraying his charismatic personality, multiple relationships, and involvement in various businesses, including a club and a music production company. The film doesn’t shy away from depicting the darker aspects of his life, such as overseeing extortion, drug distribution, and firearm trade.

The documentary captures the musical aspirations of both Vickz and Bizzy, revealing how their art is influenced by their experiences on the streets and within gang culture. Lau skillfully avoids any sense of artificiality in the portrayal of their lives, emphasizing authenticity in every scene.

One notable strength of “A-Town Boyz” is its nuanced exploration of loyalty in the context of gang and street life. The subjects express unwavering loyalty to each other and their sect, even when faced with legal troubles. The film raises thought-provoking questions about the limits of loyalty on the unforgiving streets, as Vickz and Bizzy find themselves in a prison stint for aggravated assault, despite evidence supporting their innocence. Eugene Chung is also faced with the choice of testifying in court against one of his gang members who attempted to kill him. A choice that could land him in the hands of the feds he has been avoiding for a greater part of his life as a gang boss.

Notably, the documentary refrains from showcasing the subjects committing crimes on camera. This decision, intentional or not, adds a layer of complexity to the narrative, leaving room for the audience to form their judgments without explicit footage that could potentially be used against them legally.

In the end, “A-Town Boyz” paints a vivid and honest picture of the challenges faced by these young Asian men in their pursuit of success in America. Lau‘s direction allows the audience to empathize with the subjects, challenging preconceived notions and stereotypes while providing a raw and unfiltered look into their lives.

This documentary is a decent exploration of identity, dreams, and the harsh realities of the American experience for these individuals caught between cultural expectations and societal struggles.

I will score this documentary film out of 5 stars

You can find “A-Town Boyz” streaming on Tubi and Amazon for both U.S. and Canada.

Second on my list of addictions is Movies.. the only thing I could possibly love more is my Dearest Waakye lol. Nothing else does a better job of reminding me that ANYTHING is possible with the right amount of effort. I have great eye for details and flaws in scripts. Shallow scripts bore me. I am an avid reader. Your everyday Mr Nice guy. Always the last to speak in a room full of smart people. Half Human, half Martian but full MOVIE FREAK.

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