During a busy day at work, Tera Wong (Hedy Wong) is asked to deliver takeout from her family’s restaurant in Los Angeles. Upon entering the delivery address, a small retail store, she is told to go into the back. When delivering a simple food order, the last thing one expects to stumble upon is an underground drug ring. The odds are, unfortunately, not in Tera’s favor. Although, her brave and unfaltering spirit amuses the kingpin, Lalo (Ski Carr). He tips her grandly, and she leaves in shock. She thinks of her soft-spoken mother Wavy (Lynna Yee) and her tough, overprotective brother Saren (Lorin Alond Ly). Working tirelessly all of their lives, Tera longs for her family to escape an unrewarding cycle of labor.
She realizes that proposing a deal to Lalo might be the answer to her family’s problems. Thus, she becomes the eponymous “take out girl.” Tera delivers containers to Lalo’s customers without asking questions of the contents inside. Instead, she puts all her focus on raising money for her family. Despite the risks and consequences of working with Lalo, Tera uses her wits to navigate the dark underbelly of the greater LA area. Filled with unexpected twists and turns, Hedy Wong’s screenwriting debut, Take Out Girl, is a thrilling reminder of independent cinema’s many gratifying labors. Devoid of overbearing special effects and unwarranted scale, it is the passionate drive of the cast and crew that carry this tale’s riveting narrative.
Undoubtedly, each member of the cast provides a brilliant performance. However, Wong’s passion in also playing the titular character exalts Take Out Girl from a run of the mill drama to a highly emotional piece. Stellar craftsmanship makes the Asian American female lead strong and brave, acting as a contradiction to the stereotype of Asian American women in film. Usually subservient “nerd” types, Tera defies these expectations. The film opens with her selling exam information to classmates, but not succumbing to their pushy antics. Instantly, Hedy sends a message: Tera is smart and cunning on multiple levels. With a bold posture, hard demeanor, and straightforward communication – Tera is not your typical Asian female character.
Celebrating the uniqueness of Asian American women, Wong rightfully stands out as the brave, daring lead. In fact, Take Out Girl is a film that champions diversity on a broader plate. By featuring a nearly all-minority cast and crew, Wong and director Hisonni Johnson’s work breaks boundaries. Defying the idea that American cinema is limited to whites or the few people of color that slip through the barrier. The filmmakers create something that is diverse, while also maintaining its integrity as a film. It is not an affirmative action project; Take Out Girl is a film made by people who love films.
While the narrative may falter by becoming a bit confusing and ill paced at times – an unfortunate circumstance many independent films fall to – the message of the film in relation to the American Dream makes it a worthwhile viewing experience. Further, the vigorous work behind Take Out Girl is clear in every frame; there is not a single moment where a performance fumbles within the love for the craft.
As the credits roll, tissues were needed for the shocking finale. Despite some minor bumps, the film’s closing moments are still breathtaking enough to make one sit and reflect for hours on end. An intriguing, thrilling, and great unrestrained feature, Take Out Girl is a film to put on your radar.