Jessica Yu makes documentaries, such as the 1997 Oscar-winner Breathing Lessons, that are about people deemed “outsiders” due to mental or physical challenges. In Ping Pong Playa, her first feature, she presents a different kind of outsider: From a Ping-Pong-obsessed California family, twentysomething Christopher “C-Dub” Wang (co-writer Jimmy Tsai) is a Chinese-American hip-hop wannabe and therefore a misfit in both cultures.
When his mom (Elizabeth Sung) and physician brother Michael (Roger Fan) are injured in a fender bender, C-Dub reluctantly teaches her children’s Ping-Pong class at the local community center, which gets him a coterie of young brainiacs. He also must compete in place of his skilled sibling at the big tournament. Disapproving dad (Jim Lau) becomes his wayward son’s coach, determined to defeat two smug Caucasian table-tennis aficionados (Peter Paige and Scott Lowell). Very broad humor and sloppy storytelling pave the way to a requisite Rocky ending.
Cast: Jimmy Tsai, Andrew Vo, Khary Payton, Jim Lau, Roger Fan, Elizabeth Sung, Javin Reid, Smith Cho, Kevin Chung, Peter Paige, Scott Lowell and Stephanie Weir
Director: Jessica Yu
Screenwriters: Jessica Yu and Jimmy Tsai
Producers: Anne Clements and Joan Huang
Rating: PG-13 for language, including some sexual remarks and drug references.
Running time: 97 min.
Release date: September 5 ltd.