Citizen Jia Li is an independent film written and directed by Sky Crompton. The story centers around a girl named Jia Li an Asian girl trying to make it in Australia. Does this drama hit the mark or should you give this citizen a pass?
Story - When Jia loses both her job and home in the one day, nothing is what she expected as a new citizen. Over three days she will struggle against fears and enemies to find her true identity, supported by Daisy a half Chinese half Japanese Harajuku girl, who is coming to terms with her own mixed parentage. Pursued meanwhile by Kong Jia's triad ex, who searches Melbourne to force her back, to save face with the triad, and maybe for love. The story overall is pretty decent. The story can be viewed as a fish out of water type of story. Jia is an Asian girl living in a country away from her culture, her family and is trying to adapt to the world that is Australia. She is working there to try to raise money to get her family to move there to live with her. However is she fired from her job as a hairdresser, she is put in a situation on how she is going to survive. This premise for the most part works as we see Jia struggle with unemployment and trying to find a job to make ends meet. When the story is focused on Jia it works very well. Her character was interesting to watch as you can connect and get emotionally invested with her situation. However while the central story of Jia works well, the stories of the supporting cast don’t really hold up to great. During her struggle Jia is being pursued by an ex boyfriend and member of the triad’s Kong who wants Jia back in his life. His backstory, the relationship with Jia is not really explored or flushed out completely for you to care about him. He just comes off as a creepy stalker with no real motives, or reason on why he wants Jia Li back. There are a few scenes that give you a little backstory on the relationship however it’s not enough for you to be invested in them.
Another character that wasn’t flushed out completely is Jia’s former co-worker Daisy. Daisy is probably the most interested character that you will wish had more screen time. Daisy is coming to terms with her being mixed with Chinese and Japanese and the confusion of her identity. She is also a Harajuku girl which a unique taste of fashion but none of these issues are raised or explored. Overall the story has its hits and misses. The story of Jia Li and her struggles of being a fish out of water works. Jia Li is a character the audience will connect with and related too. However the character’s of Daisy and Kong are not explored enough to tie into the overall story completely.
Acting – The acting is enjoyable to watch. Chun Kee Claudia Teh is good as Jia Li her performance is believable and brings the struggles of Jia Li to life. Chris Pang as Jia Li’s ex boyfriend Kong does a solid job the screen time he had to work with. However the real show stealer is Susanna Qian who plays Daisy. Qian has the most challenging role to play since Daisy has no real dialogue and her emotions have to show through body language and facial expression. Qian does a great job playing Daisy and watching her makes you wanted you to know more about her.
Music & Film-making -The film looks great. Sky Crompton chooses his locations very well. It’s nice to see Australia viewed in the everyday life. The music has some mix of J-pop and classical and it works well for the film and the characters. Overall the film looks great.
Final Thoughts - Citizen Jia Li is an entertaining film that has a lot of potential but could’ve made its mark if the film was longer. Besides Jia you won’t really connect to the characters plights. The film looks great however and the music fits well with the characters and the world.