The new crime drama SnakeHead has a lot of similarities to movies such as Chinatown and Mean Streets. You can feel that by watching the first trailer below. As seen in the opening shoot, we are told that for $50,000, Chinese immigrants can be sent to the United States, where they will be then forced into prostitution and other illegal jobs as a means of paying off the debt to the person who brought them, or the “snakehead.”
One of those woman is Sister Tse (Shuya Chang) who has been working to survive in America and also to find the daughter she lost along the way. A subject that feels all too real because it is just that. The movie has already received a solid review from some critics with a run time of 1hr 29 minutes. Chang brings in both the vulnerability and the vengeance of a woman who finally takes control of her life after decades of victimization. She is being praised for delivering in this story and finding her place in contemporary Asian American cinema.
Leong begins his crime story with the arrival of a Chinese ex-convict who has made a deal with “snakehead” traffickers to smuggle her into the U.S. aboard a f freighter, along with a cargo of other immigrants. Known as Sister Tse (Shuya Chang), this young woman isn’t looking to pay off the debt or find live the American Dream rather, she’s hoping to locate her daughter after losing custody while serving her prison sentence.
All she knows is that a New York family adopted the child at a young age and that she now lives somewhere in Chinatown. The issue is that Tse will have to pay off a debt totaling more than $50,000 before she has her freedom back, but she quickly demonstrates that she won’t accept a life of prostitution, badly beating one of the gang’s enforcers and so more as the journey goes.
Unfortunately the assault gets the attention of top boss Dai Mah (Jade Wu), a woman who runs one of the largest human trafficking rings in Chinatown, as well as a variety of other criminal activities. Tse climbs quickly in Dai Mah’s organization, where women are typically either exploited or ignored. She serves first as a debt collector, then as a reluctant drug runner, before gaining Dai Mah’s confidence and joining her immigrant-smuggling enterprise, which efficiently exploits most major trafficking methods and routes. In her new role, she begins working directly with Dai Mah’s favorite son, Rambo (Sung Kang), a short-tempered abuser who’s constantly starting arguments and fistfights. Helping the very gang that smuggled her in as well as knows where her daughter is, poses a major problem for her but she is willing to do whatever it takes to get her back.
Snakehead is slated for an October release from Samuel Goldwyn Films and Roadside Attractions. This is one of those movies that could fly under the radar so to speak but after watching the trailer, it already made my list.