12-14 October 2021

24th Asian Project Market

2020 project

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Project Romeo Crème Brulee No. 15
Director KUO Dawei
Country Taiwan
Producer HSU Li-Kong / LIN Jong
Production Company Zoom Hunt International Productions Co.¸ LTD
Writer KUO Dawei
Genre Culinary / Cross-Culture / Black Comedy
Running time 115′
Project StatusFinancing / Script Development / Pre-production
Director’s Profile
Commercial director, Kuo Dawei, graduated from NYU, and is a disciple of Hollywood who now works globally. He grew up in Taipei.
Producer’s Profile
Hsu Li-Kong (Executive Producer), a Taiwanese film producer, produced internationally acclaimed films including The Wedding Banquet (Lee Ang, 1993), Eat Drink Man Woman (Lee Ang, 1994), Rebels of the Neon God (Tsai Ming-Liang, 1992), and Viva L’Amour (Tsai Ming-Liang, 1994). In 1997, Li-Kong formed Zoom Hunt International and produced The Personals (Chen Kuo-Fu, 1998) and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Lee Ang, 2000). Li-Kong continues to foster a new generation of filmmakers.

Lin Jong, a veteran cinematographer, works with directors like Ogawa Shinsuke, Peng Xiaolian, Lee Ang, Gurinder Chadha, and up and coming Chinese filmmakers, creating acclaimed films over three decades. In recent years, Jong has been teaching at the National Taiwan University of Arts and takes an active role as producer mentoring young filmmakers in exploring racial conflicts, modern poverty, the roles of the media and humanities subjects.
Johnny Bao, a sixteen-year-old boy, and sole heir of a fading Peking Duck Restaurant, despises his heritage and hates to be a Chinese cook.
Packed off to boarding school in China, Johnny is expelled for fighting to save friend Mustafa from certain death. Mustafa’s Uncle in Paris knows a bistro. Johnny flees to Paris, becoming trapped in that bistro, Phở Hâ Nôi, in Chinatown.
Johnny falls in love with Marie, whose mother, the bistro owner, warns Johnny to leave. Heartbroken, Johnny flees. 3-Star D’Or Duchamp Restaurant is hiring. In the interview, Johnny’s do-or-die grit gets him a job. Marie auditions for the Paris Opera Ballet. Marie can’t jump. She is pregnant.
Duchamp’s love child, Chef Pierre, refuses to change, causing them to lose a star. Duchamp promotes Johnny to mock the Paris culinary scene. Johnny, using the Asian cookery he despises, wins back the star. But Johnny knows he is a pawn. He leaves Paris for Manhattan.
In 2001, Johnny and a Jewish billionaire, Woody Sorenstein, open Le 12 French Restaurant. Woody needs 3-Stars for his restaurant franchise IPO. Robin, the CEO, says Johnny smells like Chinatown.
The Michelin judges are coming. Chef Pierre, an LA Food Critic, and Johnny’s father are the judges. Johnny’s father finds sweet bean paste in the sauces. Chef Pierre and his LA friend readily vote NO, with Johnny’s father, who is crushed, realizing that Johnny is the chef.
Johnny wants to kill Pierre. In a road rage accident, Johnny is mortally wounded. His father comes to the rescue, while debris rains down from the falling of the Twin Towers.
Director’s Statement
I began writing this screenplay three years ago. I am curious about what other people really think about us. In a time of crisis, cinema becomes even more important. We need a voice.
We need films like, On The Waterfront (Elia Kazan, 1954), Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976) and Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989). I’m interested in exploring what impact an Asian antihero creates, in the context of an American story taking place in Paris and New York City, and through the encounter of two food cultures, French and Chinese.
Romeo Creme Brulee is a black comedy-drama which reflects departures, a seemingly symbiotic relationship between the first world and the rest, and the repercussions caused by the internet and globalization over the past three decades. By juxtaposing cuisines and cultures, Romeo explores how the new, the old, and different cultures converge. Romeo Creme Brulee questions the rigidity of political correctness and the out-of-reach idea of democratic globalization. Romeo Creme Brulee draws hope from the clashes between cultures, races, classes, and the generation gap, which, in turn sparks acceptance, empathy, and clemency.
I send Johnny Bao to Paris and New York City. Leaving him alone to face and confront long stifled-stereotypes, racism, and his own assumptions and prejudices, through an unbridled spirit of love and violence. We need more selfless and rebellious citizens. We need Asian antiheroes in cinema. Johnny Bao, a man who carries Chinatown with him, tells us such a crazy story.
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