Parents' Guide to


By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Poignant, powerful black-and-white drama set amid '92 riots.

Movie NR 2017 94 minutes
Gook Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 1 parent review

age 14+


Incredible movie, Justin Chon shows much promise in his films.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1):
Kids say: Not yet rated

Writer-director-star Chon's black-and-white drama is a powerful exploration of racial tension, family duty, and the American dream in the wake of the LA riots. It's also a fascinating homage to Do the Right Thing and Clerks. Like those two classic indie movies, Gook doesn't have a complicated or fast-paced plot. Rather, it's a slice-of-life story set against the backdrop of extraordinary times: the 1992 Rodney King verdict (when four police officers were acquitted of any wrongdoing) and the ensuing looting, anger, and violence of the riots. Eli and Daniel aren't racially insensitive like suspicious elder Korean store owner Mr. Kim (Sang Chon, who happens to be Justin's father), who stands behind a huge wall of bullet-proof glass and considers his customers possible thieves, even children. By contrast, the brothers are called "homie" by their African-American friends -- but that doesn't prevent them from getting jumped repeatedly by armed Mexican and African-American crews.

Chon lingers on small moments of sweetness between Eli, Daniel, and young, orphaned Kamilla, who would rather spend her time with the shopkeepers than with her sullen, hot-tempered brother, who isn't above casual violence or looting. Kamilla is half Korean, half black, and that fact means there's unresolved tension between the brothers and Kamilla's older siblings. In one of the movie's loveliest scenes, Kamilla dances with the brothers and is utterly herself. Curious and precocious, Kamilla (and Baker's performance) is a highlight of the film, which can be dark and upsetting. She's curious about the Korean language ("What does 'gook' mean?" she asks Eli after seeing the word spray-painted on his white car), about her mother (the brothers remember her), and about what it means to be family. Despite the movie's tough themes and a couple of overly upsetting narrative turns, there's also humor and hope, even in the darkest of times.

Movie Details

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