Over the past two to three decades, basketball’s popularity has grown throughout the world as the sport penetrates other cultures. Prior to 2000, we didn’t see many Asian players in the NBA, let alone emerge as high school phenoms who could potentially play in the league.
That’s the premise of the upcoming film Boogie, which follows Alfred Chin (played by Taylor Takahashi), a Chinese-American basketball star in Queens, New York, who dreams of playing in the NBA and has the skills to follow through on those ambitions.
As could be expected, Alfred struggles to maintain his cultural identity against stereotypes toward Asians in society and school, as well as expectations at home. His mother wants him to focus on academics and earning a college scholarship, while his father sees how talented a basketball player he is.
Check out the trailer, released this week:
Boogie is also notable for being written and directed by Eddie Huang, best known for being a chef and TV food personality in addition to writing the memoir upon which the sitcom Fresh Off the Boat was based.
In his book, Huang told the story of growing up in an Asian family while living in Orlando, Florida, and developing a love of American culture, including hip-hop. Elements of that upbringing and cultural awakening are apparent in this movie, Huang’s debut as a movie writer and director.
Getting the basketball scenes right was important to Huang, as he explained to Entertainment Weekly.
“Kung fu films are good. No one walks out of a kung fu film like, ‘That was bad fighting,'” said Huang. “So we’ll make the basketball like kung fu. It’s about the moves.”
Also starring in Boogie is Brooklyn rapper Pop Smoke, who was shot and killed in his Los Angeles home nearly a year ago. He released two albums — Meet the Woo, Volumes 1 and 2 — before his death last February and another after he passed, Shoot For the Stars, Aim For the Moon.
The film and its soundtrack will also feature unreleased music from Pop Smoke. Huang told the New York Times that he decided to cast the rapper for the film midway through his audition.
“Within two takes, you could see the swag just come out of nowhere. He explodes on camera. I stopped the audition right there. He can turn emotions on a dime. He could be funny. He can be mean. A lot of actors just don’t have the depth of emotion and experiences, but because of what Pop’s gone through, he has a tremendous well to draw from.”
Boogie is scheduled for a March 5, 2021 release in theaters. A streaming release date has yet to be announced, though with so many movie theaters still closed or operating at lesser capacity, the film will likely be available on-demand soon thereafter.