Seeking a fun flick to watch from the comfort of your couch? Check out KTown Cowboys (available on iTunes, YouTube, Vudu, GooglePlay, other popular streaming services, and all cable/satellite providers). This independent film, directed by Daniel Park, is based on a popular series of web-shorts by the same name. It combines the raunchy comedy style and bromance elements of popular Judd Apatow movies with an insider’s perspective of some aspects of Korean-American culture. Woven through the story, the film incorporates a tutorial on the underground nightlife scene in “KTown” (Koreatown), Los Angeles, such as “dohmies,” also known as hostess bars, where attractive women are paid to entertain men – but not the way you think. Don’t worry ladies, the film also covers the reverse concept of “host” bars. There is also the fascinating practice of “booking,” a kind of casual speed dating.
The story follows five friends struggling to transition from their current stale jobs and pursue their career passions: from opening a bar, to succeeding in the competitive world of fashion design, to traveling the world, to the ultimate long-shot of becoming a famous standup comedian. With these crises-of-calling interspersed with romantic hits-and-misses, and of course, debauchery, this film would be similar to other millennial “follow your heart”-themed stories. But KTown Cowboys adds another dimension: that of the strong sense of obligation to family and respect for elders. As the cowboys navigate their paths to self-fulfillment, they must also keep this element of family honor intact and find creative ways to resolve any conflicts between the two.
Made on a shoestring budget, with a cast of largely first-time actors—with the exceptions of Ken Jeong (The Hangover, Dr. Ken) and Daniel Dae-Kim (from the television series Hawaii Five-0 and Lost)—KTown Cowboys is not an Oscar contender. But it is a crowd pleaser, with a 97% fresh audience rating on RottenTomatoes.com. The movie was one of only 15 independent films chosen from thousands of entries for screening at last year’s South By Southwest (SXSW) Conference and Film festival. It’s funny and fresh, with authentic chemistry between the five friends, played by Danny Cho (one of the film’s writers), Sunn Wee, Peter Jae, Bobby Choy, and Shane Yoon. You can tell they were having fun making this movie.
Warning: KTown Cowboys does contain some graphic sexual humor and one particularly hilarious shock scene that is possibly unique in all of film history, so please do not watch this with your kids, grandparents, or in-laws! But if you’re hanging with your crew, squad, BAE, or some combination of the three, be prepared to laugh out loud, wince and groan audibly, learn something new, and depart from your typical night out to experience KTown nightlife from an insider’s perspective.
Want to get inspired for your trip to KTown? Try the cowboys’ cocktail idea for Soju Tea.