Christmas at the Golden Dragon is Hallmark’s version of Love Actually, and whether or not you’ll enjoy the film depends entirely on how you feel about multiple storylines happening all at once. And this writer generally isn’t a fan, but for the most part, there’s a lot to respect and appreciate in this film.
Starring Kara Wang, Osric Chau, Barbara Niven, Sara Canning, Antonio Cupo, Zak Santiago, Genevieve Buechner, Markian Tarasiuk, Bobby Stewart, Jason Fernandes, Sharon Crandall, Vincent Cheng, and more, the film primarily follows Romy Chen (Wang) through two Christmases while entwining everyone to her family’s Chinese restaurant, The Golden Dragon. Hallmark diversifying its films will always be a win, which is why this is worth watching. The cultural influence and Romy’s knacks as a character made the entire story work, even if we only got to spend a little bit of time with the romances.
It’s always fun to see a relationship that’s already established while it stands the test of time throughout the film. Romy and Blake (Tarasiuk) were lovely, as was his family. Because of what we’ve seen so far, I kept thinking that the film would break them up, but it was refreshing to see something genuinely pleasant work out in the end. Plus, both families being accepting and welcoming of the relationships? More of this, please.
But individually as a character, Romy is a lens for various types of characters: the ones who’ve never experienced traditionally film-like Christmases (like me) and those who have their version that’s kind of, sort of, better. It was a bit much at times to see her push so hard on those traditions, but once they got to the restaurant and she realized that she should go home to be with her family before they closed the restaurant, it all fit.
Plus, cute proposal. We’ll take it.
The other storylines in Christmas at the Golden Dragon needed a bit more to establish something we should care about. While I did enjoy most of them, it’s still hard not to want more. While the mother/daughter storyline between Jane (Niven) and Veronica (Canning) was well done, we could’ve used a bit more development in the romance area for Veronica and Nate (Cupo). As good as the scenes with his daughters were, we needed to understand why they’re worth rooting for as a couple. More than anything, it was an oversimplified, overtly cheesy way of saying, “oh, she can’t have kids of her own; here are two she’ll now adopt in the future.” And that…just…no, Hallmark.
We also could’ve used way more show than tell for Rick (Chau) and Sadie’s (Buechner) romance, as well as Miguel’s (Fernandes) relationship with his father, Luis (Santiago).
However, the way Christmas at the Golden Dragon handles the restaurant’s final few days while upholding its legacy is everything right and adorable about it. You could feel the weight of the restaurant’s importance without anyone mentioning it, and you could see the impact the Chen family has had on the people of Wichita. The restaurant’s storyline thoroughly engages the audience and makes us feel like we’re a part of something bigger, even when there’s very little we know about the family.
If we’d just gotten more about the Chen family and their story, this arc could’ve been even better at telling a moving story. (If Blake and Romy spent equal time here as they do at their parents, it would’ve been solid.) While it’s still heartwarming to see people give back to Sue (Crandall) and Jim (Cheng) as they have for years, this was the part I wish we’d just gotten a few more minutes of. But no one at the end wearing a hairnet in the kitchen stressed the daylights out of me? Hi, yes, have we heard of hair getting into food? No, thank you.
Christmas at the Golden Dragon is now streaming on Frndly TV.