In 1999, Mark V. Wiley had a unique and movie idea: What would happen if a Chinese guy tried to join the Italian Mafia? 20 years later, the film was shot in Philadelphia’s Chinatown, Italian Market and Head House Square set to look like New York City.
The executive Producer and writer, Mark V. Wiley, grew up in Ambler and Fort Washington, his father Dr. William Wiley had his practice on Lindenwold Ave in Ambler for 22 years and his children attended Fort Washington Elementary and Sandy Run Middle School.
Wiley created the hilarious concept of a Chinese guy trying to join the MOB to get some respect and the love of an Italian girl, only to put his family and friends in danger and start an all-out war between the Italian Mob and Chinese Triad, then having to go undercover to impersonate the Don. And the cast that jumped on board is amazing. Can you say Fuhgeddaboudit?
“After 18 years of not being able to break into the film business, suddenly I got the script into the right hands, and was able to raise the funding through my publishing company, Tambuli Media,” says Wiley.
“It was unbelievable to me that all of these fixtures of film and television wanted to be in my little movie,” recalls Wiley. “I mean, no one would give the script a look and then all the sudden all of my heroes are calling and then standing in front of me on set acting out my script! The saying is true, that everything has its time. I believed in the story so much that I just never gave up.” And with an Italian cast packed with alumna from “The Sopranos,” “Analyze This” and “Goodfellas”, a Chinese cast that includes Hong Kong film legends Lo Meng and Chiu Chi Ling and Emmy Winner James Lew (Marvel’s Luke Cage), and of course the great Raymond J. Barry, it was any indie filmmaker’s dream come true.
With the huge success of the film “Crazy Rich Asians,” Netflix’s Bruce Lee series “Warrior,” FOX’s announcement to reboot the “Kung-Fu” TV series, and the forthcoming “The Sopranos” prequal, there has never been a more perfect time for a Chinese-Italian cross-over film… like the action/comedy “Made in Chinatown.”
Made in Chinatown just wrapped post-production and is looking for distribution, and has already been named among “The Best Martial Arts/Action Movies to Look Forward To in 2019” by Asian Movie Pulse.
In New York City, Canal Street divides Little Italy and Chinatown, and a bridge separates Manhattan from Brooklyn. But they don’t stop a turf war from erupting among Italian and Chinese organized crime syndicates.
There’s Manhattan mob boss Al Capella (Tony Darrow), Brooklyn mob boss Amador Condimento (Vincent Pastore), and Chinatown Triad boss Hung Phat (Lo Meng). They’re all involved in the underbelly of the condiments trade. The illegal trafficking of oils, spices, and herbs has been around for centuries, begun by the great Italian explorer Marco Polo—and its very serious business for these crime families. Recently, they’ve been trying to move in on each other’s turf and tensions are high. And when a Chinese guy starts poking around and tries to join the MOB, the double-crossing begins.
Despite being Chinese, young “Vinny” Chow (Jay Kwon) embarks on a personal quest to join the Italian mob so he can get the Italian girl of his dreams, Tina Di Pocco (Theresa Moriarty), who only dates Wiseguys. In his many attempts to prove himself mob-worthy, Vinny is drawn into a web of intrigue instigated by New York’s dirty crime commissioner Sean O’Greedy (Raymond J. Barry), who is playing all the mob bosses against one another.
Along with his friends Joey Risotto (Timothy Chivalette) and Lawrence (Emmanuel Brown), Vinny is recruited by special agents Johnson & Johnson to infiltrate the mob. He must impersonate The DON to gather evidence that could take down the entire New York Crime Syndicate once and for all.
The title “Made in Chinatown” is a play on the phrase “Made in China” and the Italian Mafia’s notion of being “Made.” And so, Vinny Chow literally is, “Made in Chinatown.”
All photos ©Made in Chinatown and Mark Wiley