The American Dream. It sparks the imagination of the many and drives them to sail to our shores in hopes of a better life. A better future for their families, a future where they will have new and promising opportunities to thrive. Through hard work and pure determination they intend to overcome all obstacles set before them. Yet, as their small Asian hands bind together a raft made of palm leaves and cat guts, trade their sombreros in for Yankees hats, and trick out their horse-pulled gypsy caravans with trucknuts® they can not have ever anticipated the biggest obstacle of them all. An obstacle they will never fully overcome. An obstacle known as The Great White Wall. The most impenetrable wall in all the western world. A wall that's very bricks are forged with the golden hammer of privilege on the anvil of inequality. It is in this xenophobic, racist nation that one white guy turns convention on it's head, let's his white guilt guide his purpose, and pulls old Chinese grannies around on a rickshaw. But this ain't no ordinary nancy-ass rickshaw, no, this one has muscle, balls, a hemi, all that shit. It's American Rickshaw! Also known as American Tiger.
Olympic gold-medalist Mitch Gaylord follows in the footsteps of other gymnasts turned actors Kurt Thomas and Bart Connor and plays a poor man's Danielson as Scott Edwards.
The film opens on some kind of glowing Chinese warthog statue. Right away we know we're in trouble.
As history has shown again and again anything magical and Chinese is a likely indicator of trouble to come. Like some gremlins, a floating eyeball, a secret snake cult, or some other wacky shit.
While Chinese magic threatens hijinx, Scott pursues his Asian fetishism (before the internet made it easy) by pulling an old Chinese lady and her cat around on his rickshaw.
Later that day, Scott's cripple roommate is sitting on the couch
watching a television evangelist played by Donald Pleasence.
The Chinese granny from the rickshaw is watching the same program while she "chases the dragon".
A flashback reveals that the TV evangelist is actually a powerful demon who once seduced the Chinese lady and cursed her with old age. Here's how it went down-
That night Scott works the pavement shawin' and picks up a vampy redhead in his Rickshaw.
Now, we could take the fact that the scene of Scott pulling this babe around is inter-cut with a shot of a hissing cobra
as a warning of imminent danger but hey, she's a western girl (if you know what I mean) and she invites Scott on her boat, what's the worst that could happen?
Well a creepy fucker with a video camera behind a two-way mirror for starters!!
Followed by gun wielding criminals
and pig face explosions!
Oh shit, Scott has quite a night ahead of him. At least he gets laid twice and (*SPOILER) his face isn't the one that explodes.
An IMDB user writes:
"After seeing this movie, I realize how bad a film can be. I was sober when I began the movie but it left me intoxicated with stupidity. I've never seen a movie about a rickshaw driver and, because of this movie, I never will again. What was Donald Pleasence thinking? A horrid film such as this does not deserve even a hint of his presence."
My review of that review:
"That review is fucking retarded."
American Rickshaw isn't just a second rate Italian made hack job, it might quite possibly be one of the most racist movies ever made. Not because of its content necessarily but because the script was clearly written to be the story of a Chinese kid and instead they cast one of the whitest white 80's dudes I have ever seen. Trying to perhaps cash in on the landmark "I'm so confused by this Chinese shit" performance of Kurt Russel in Big Trouble In Little China. Racist or not, it's still good. Good in the Film Buf kind of way. The kind of good that speaks to your inner child. The kid who couldn't quite make the connection between the ingestion pizza rolls and his lackluster jump kicks. The kid who formed his opinion of California by playing California Games on his Lynx or whose Hypercolor® went tragically untouched by his peers through all of his 6th grade career. Ok maybe that wasn't you, maybe that was just me but regardless, the movie is worth the bumpy two-wheeled ride though the twisting alleyways of a Chinatown that only exists in a latently racist white person's imagination.
Watch the trailer. It's in German.
Download it here.