Jamie Skinner reviews the latest. Joy Ride: Asian American Audrey (Ashley Park) is going to China for a work trip, however with her friends alongside her extra time and locations are added in order for her to try and seal a much needed deal.

Cert - 15, Run-time - 1 hour 35 minutes, Directors - Adele Lim

Part of the reason why Joy Ride clicks in the way that it does is because it’s not about four friends. The central group are estranged figures generally with one mutual connection. They may have heard of, or briefly met, the others present, establishing their own hesitant of negative opinions, but as a whole there’s an unfamiliarity with most of the group.

The core connection is Audrey (Ashley Park), an Asian American adopted shortly after birth in China and being raised in America by two white parents. Hoping to become partner at her law firm she finds herself taking her first trip to China in order to make a key deal. However, unable to speak the language her best friend Lolo (Sherry Cola) - whose parents are Chinese immigrants - is coming along to act as translator, and to look after her loud, K-Pop-loving cousin - nicknamed Deadeye (Sabrina Wu) - on the plane, before they end up tagging along permanently.

However, while Audrey and Deadeye have their disconnect, it’s not as big as the rift between Lolo and Audrey’s friend-from-college Kat (Stephanie Hsu) - now an actress in China. The bickering between the pair, and indeed the group as a whole, makes for plenty of amusing arguments throughout, especially as they try to impress Audrey and be the better friend. It’s this which leads from a business meeting to a search for Audrey’s birthmother, in the hope that her presence can help seal the deal.

With plenty of new locations to visit, and ways to get there, there’s clearly a lot that can go wrong in the space of a few days. Heightened by the relationships amongst the group there are a number of individual trips to be found within this trip. Sex and drugs are certainly on the menu as the film manages to avoid explicit gags just for the sake of explicit gags. They work within the film and the unfolding narrative, and create a number of laugh out loud moments.

One particular montage continues to escalate as it frantically intercuts the separate actions of each figure in one night. The laughs continue to roll in as is the case with a number of extended gags and sequences throughout the film’s tightly packed 95-minute run-time. It’s a short time that goes by quickly thanks to the frequent laughs, and the four central performances which bring the lead characters to life. Effectively capturing an energy to move the film along and develop their relationships over time - even if that does mean posing as a fake K-Pop group, and revealing a lot of unexpected private matters in the process, just to board a plane.

Jamie Skinner, Four stars ****