I admit, one of the main reasons why I decided to see West 32nd was to catch a glimpse of John Cho (better known as Harold from Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle) in a more serious role. That, combined with the fact that it was being labeled a thriller set in the seedy underground world of New York's Koreatown was enough to grab my interest. As a life-long New Yorker, there aren't many places within the city that I'm not familiar with. I've lived on the Upper West Side and on the Lower East Side; gone to weddings in Chinatown; worked in Tribeca and Midtown; partied in the West and East Village; and grabbed a bite in practically every neighborhood there is ... except K-town. For anyone that's ever taken a cab across town and away from either Madison Square Garden or Penn Station, you've probably passed through West 32nd street, noticed the Korean BBQ shops, but never actually stopped to look around. With his second feature, not only does director Michael Kang (The Motel) deliver one of the more beautifully shot films I caught at Tribeca, but he introduces us to the complexity of an entire world that's carefully and delicately situated within one city block.
John (Cho) is a young Korean-American attorney who's assigned to do pro bono work on a capital murder case. Smart and well-dressed, he's the type of guy who craves power and respect; the kind that comes along with making partner at the firm. Meanwhile, cocktails with the rest of the suits at a swanky midtown bar are just an added luxury. Things change when John's research on said case (in which a teenager is accused of gunning down the manager of a Korean "salon room" club) drops him knee-deep in the middle of gang-related politics; so much so that he begins to question which one of his two lives is more exciting: the wealthy, straight-laced attorney or the corrupt, turbo-charged gangster in training.