Though he’s become best known for his work on the Fast & Furious franchise (and to those who are streets ahead, his two excellent episodes of US sitcom Community), Justin Lin has dabbled in more than just tyre-screeching action and muscled blokes swapping slighty corny dialogue. He’s looking to broaden back out again, snatching the rights to David Henry Hwang’s play Chinglish to adapt it into a movie.
Chinglish follows an American businessman arriving in a busy Chinese province looking for a lucrative contract for his family’s sign-making firm. But he soon discovers that language barriers and other issues are not so easily overcome, especially when emotions are involved. One of the production’s big differences from other plays is the use of both English and Mandarin (with subtitles on the latter).
The play, which was first staged in Chicago, has enjoyed a run on Broadway and is now heading on an international tour. It’s on the Great White Way that Lin first saw the play and realised its potential: "As soon as I saw Chinglish on Broadway, I began to envision this smart and insightful cross-cultural comedy as a film," Lin tells Variety.
Hwang has been hired to handle the script adaptation and will be a co-producer. He also seems pleased with the collaboration. "I've loved Justin's work ever since he burst on the scene with Better Luck Tomorrow and it feels very right to be collaborating with him on the movie version of my play.”
Given Lin’s busy schedule (he’s currently gearing up for Fast Six and has other projects sitting in his development garage), there’s no word on when this will start shooting, assuming he ends up taking the job himself.