Five Blind Dates

Prime Video's first Australian film is a sweet romantic comedy led by a Chinese tea shop owner whose fortune reading predicts true love.

Prime Video’s very first Australian-made movie is a romantic comedy landing just in time for Valentine’s Day, Five Blind Dates.

Co-created and co-written by actor Shuang Hu (The Family Law), and actor / comedian Nathan Ramos-Park (As We Babble On) it is part of a growing slate of Asian-Australian scripted projects aimed at mainstream audiences. Perhaps borrowing a (tea) leaf from the success of Crazy Rich Asians -itself referenced in the story- it isn’t afraid to celebrate the bonkers collision of traditional China with contemporary Australia.

Lia (Shuang Hu) runs an authentic Chinese tea shop in Sydney, dedicated to the customs handed down from her late grandmother and refusing to jump on board the bubble tea bandwagon. Who can blame her?

But she struggles for parental approval and remains hopelessly single, all of which is highlighted at the engagement party of her sister Alice (Tiffany Wong) in the very true blue Townsville.

There she is challenged by the prediction of a fortune teller (Gabrielle Chan) who insists she will meet her future husband amongst the next five dates if they happen before the wedding.

While the first is former teenage beau Richard (Yoson An) another is a wealthy Sydney playboy (Desmond Chiam) arranged by father Xian (Tzi Ma).

Spurred on by her gay BFF (Ilai Swindells) she next meets teacher (Jon Prasida), this time as arranged by mum Jing (Renee Lim), before an encounter with a dreamy mediation guru (Rob Collins). Some of the dates, and I’d use that term loosely frankly, are so devoid of chemistry as to being a bit of a problem for a romantic comedy.

But more visits from Richard and the audience knows where this is headed.

The film directed by Shawn Seet offers sweet performances from Hu and An in the lead roles, with Swindells as a colourfully camp sidekick. It works best in Shuang Hu’s desire to honour traditions and in the unresolved moments with Yoson An.

Less successful are the moments of conflict where sisters tear strips off one another, literally, in outburts that might be more fitting in a Real Housewives episode, or in a tirade that predictably goes viral via someone’s uploaded video. But it is all designed to sink our heroine to deep lows before lifting her up. Does it qualify as comedy?

Points to the locations manager who has managed to show off every flashy Sydney backdrop for an international audience, although I can’t help but wonder what the story might have elicited if it spent longer exploring the cultural canyons in Townsville.

Five Blind Dates surely has its heart in the right place, and offers nuanced insight into a community usually the domain of an SBS drama. It’s a promising start for more local features to come.

Five Blind Dates is now screening on Prime Video

One Response

  1. Sorry, this was pure cringe – niche programming and box ticking, frankly. I know everyone thinks their story is unique – but it’s really not. At least it’s not with storytelling this lazy. We have seen variations of this so many times, it’s now little more than a grab bag of cliches. You mentioned the dates being devoid of chemistry – so was the cast, not helped by a woeful script. So disappointing.

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