If You Like ‘Crazy Rich Asians,’ Watch This Charming Prime Video Rom-Com

The Big Picture

  • The journey in romantic comedies like
    Five Blind Dates
    often outweighs the destination, thanks to heartwarming moments and unrealistic-but-lovable premises.
  • The Asian-led cast captures the migrant diaspora experience, balancing familial fidelity and independent happiness in a relatable and cozy rom-com.
  • The film blends Australian and Asian cultures, showcasing the conflicting and harmonious mix of family loyalty and individualism in a refreshing way.

Romantic comedies are undeniably more about the journey than the destination. From the first scenes, we instantly know who the quirky protagonist will end up with, but we stay to find out what kind of unrealistic-but-we’ll-go-with-it premise will carry us there. Five Blind Dates is no exception. The polaroid introduction quickly reveals Lia’s (Shuang Hu) inevitable love interest, Richard (Yoson An), though we later find out she has to suffer through five blind dates to reach her end game. Although the film is filled with outdated tropes like the overly supportive gay best friend, and it has a love interest that pales against the side ones, this cozy rom-com is as heart-warming as the steaming cups of teas Lia sells.

What really sells the comfort of the plot is the Asian-led cast who deftly encapsulate the migrant diaspora experience. The classic feud between familial fidelity and independent happiness that we loved in 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians is dialed down to a more relatable and comfortable note in Five Blind Dates. In fact, as the first Australian Prime Video Original, the film essentially “Aussie-fied” the extravagant world of Crazy Rich Asians, giving us the candor and informality of Aussie culture with the beauty of Chinese tea ceremonies and a lavish wedding.

five blind dates poster

Five Blind Dates

A woman is told by a fortune teller that she will meet her soulmate on one of the next five dates she goes on.

Release Date
February 13, 2024

Main Genre
Romantic Comedy

Amazon MGM Studios

Shawn Seet

1 hr 20 mins

Shuang Hu , Nathan Ramos-Park

Prime Video

Released just in time for Valentine’s Day, Five Blind Dates has all the makings of a Hallmark rom-com, but who said Hallmark couldn’t be a fun watch? Sitting somewhere in between the slew of quietly high quality rom-coms being released by Prime and the overly saturated, flatly lit recent Netflix ones, Five Blind Dates delivers just the right amount of cringing and food for thought. Lia, as the protagonist, is slightly naive, enormously stubborn and insanely likable. Hu nailed Lia’s delicate mix of being traditional yet modern, making her character arc throughout the plot believable and, more importantly, she gave us someone to root for – but not for the reason you may believe.

While the film is a rom-com, it is Lia’s ambition and determination to share her culture that draws us in, particularly as it epitomizes her relationship with her grandma. The fortune-telling scene is not only memorable for Mrs Li’s (Gabrielle Chan) smoky entrance and the winning nod to the Asian cultural tradition of pre-wedding fortune-readings, but it is also because of Lia’s genuine reaction to the possibility of saving her store. While it was sweet that she indulged in such a mythical solution of five dates, how enamored she is with her culture and her final link to her grandma is what shines through. While romance may not be the number one selling point of this film, Lia’s journey to cultivate and share her true love definitely makes it a worthy watch.

Shuang Hu as Lia standing next to Ilai Swindells as Mason in Five Blind Dates
Image via Amazon Studios

Alongside every rom-com’s main character’s journey is an unnecessary serving of outdated tropes. Ilai Swindells deserves a huge round of applause for his sarcastic, sensitive, and outrageous approach to Mason, which made his witty one-liners and thankless attitude an absolute gem to witness. However, the gay best friend who is endlessly supportive and doesn’t really seem to have a life outside the protagonist’s is an archetype that we had thought had been put to rest, yet seems to rear its head occasionally. But if we’re insistent on this archetype, at least glamorize the makeover montage instead of making it a slightly stiff and performative experience. On the other hand, Mason’s unexpected yet flawless pairing with the salacious Apollo (Desmond Chiam) is rivaled only by Lia’s mother’s (Renee Lim) slightly unhinged romance with her employee Ezra (Jon Prasida).

The next rom-com crime Five Blind Dates committed is just as significant: the bland love interest. While the two aforementioned couples are showstoppers themselves, it’s worth noting that they did face a distinct lack of competition. Richard’s only personality trait for most of the film was being an old childhood friend Lia had a falling out with – he eventually develops another ebat to his personality when we discover why he abandoned their plans to move to Sydney at the end of the film. Boasting a one-dimensional personality and completely non-existent chemistry with Lia, Richard pales dearly against the more dynamic “wrong” love interests. Lia exhibits more emotion when she is aghast by millionaire Apollo’s unorthodox proposition, enraged by the conservative Ezra’s less conservative desires and enchanted with Curtis’ (Rob Collins) ability to make her fearless. Meanwhile, with Richard, she is mildly snarky, slightly quick-tempered, then, out of the blue, head over heels in love. Luckily, we know, that’s not where the true love story lies.


The Most Underrated Rom-Com Couple Isn’t the Leading Duo of Their Movie

At the end of the day, it’s the small moments that make it count.

Like ‘Crazy Rich Asians,’ ‘Five Blind Dates’ Reflects the Asian Diaspora Experience

By the end of the film, Lia found true love in her dreams, culture, and self; Richard was simply an inexplicable bonus. Although their uneventful romance makes us yearn for Rachel (Constance Wu) and Nick’s (Henry Golding) more powerful one from Crazy Rich Asians, their approach to cultural commentary is rather more refreshing. Hu is also a co-writer of Five Blind Dates, spoke to ABC News about what she set out to achieve with this film, “We tried to incorporate themes [from] filial piety and some of the responsibilities we feel towards our families in this modern era of trying to make a career and chase our dreams.” Hu says. “But also feeling the responsibility of getting married and having kids [and] for families to be really involved in that.”

The migrant diaspora experience is slowly making its way onto the screen more, from the luxurious set of Crazy Rich Asians to the teenage drama of Never Have I Ever. Growing up in New Zealand, An tells Perth News how, until Crazy Rich Asians, he had never related to characters quite as much. As such, with these American-based films starting to pave the way, Hu thought to herself: “Why doesn’t Australia have a movie or rom-com with a lead Asian cast?” By replacing the loudness of island getaways and opulent balls with quaint traditional tea shops, Hu created the Australian version of a cultural milestone.

Unlike Crazy Rich Asians, the provoking emotional turmoil is kept to a minimum in Five Blind Dates and instead, light-hearted comedy and delicate, poignant moments capture the conflicting experience of the diaspora. This is particularly evident in the contrast between the ridiculous TikTok of Lia’s mental breakdown and how it catalyzed the success of her tea shop. Like all rom-coms, Lia hits rock-bottom as she isolates herself from her family, gives up on her tea shop, and mopes around in bed all day. It is only when she accepts her two-pronged identity as Asian and Australian that she shifts her perspective, alters her tea shop slightly to appeal to both demographics and, thus, is rewarded with her quiet and uplifting demonstration of the Chinese tea ceremony.

Australian and Asian Cultures Are Mixed Together in ‘Five Blind Dates’

While Lia embarks on her journey to reconcile her two identities, the priorities of the Asian expectation of family loyalty, and the more Westernized idea of individualism, Hu weaves together a portrait of how jarring or harmonious these two distinct cultures can be. Moving away from her family to Sydney (basically the New York of Australia), Lia displays an interesting mix of pursuing independence but through a highly traditional route. Even the introduction showcases the inherent mix of cultures, as she denounces bubble tea in favor of real tea against a cartoonish slideshow background. But it is clearly in the ending that not only Lia, but also her family realize the value of prioritizing both individualism and the collective. Lia’s mother decides to pursue fun romance instead of staying with her husband for the sake of it, while Lia’s dad shows more compassion to his family than he had done before.

Five Blind Dates offers a stage for two cultures that are only recently getting more representation on the screen. The first and foremost image that is conjured when you think Australia is most likely the outback. And while the outback does span quite a bit of the country, it is refreshing to see the more mundane and everyday side of Australia. From the languid conversation to the caricature of the Byron Bay stereotype, and even the restricted dating pool of Hungry Jacks’ managers, Australia has never felt more relatable. To be able to pick up the nuanced experience of living in Australia, while also layering in the migrant experience without having to spoon-feed context is a feat in itself. While Five Blind Dates may not have the epic love story you would expect from a film released near Valentine’s Day, its love for culture is a far greater romance.

Five Blind Dates is available to stream now on Prime Video in the U.S.

Watch on Prime Video


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