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Death and Ramen

average rating is 5 out of 5


Chris Olson


Posted on:

May 12, 2023

Film Reviews
Death and Ramen
Directed by:
Tiger Ji
Written by:
Tiger Ji
Bobby Lee, Matt Jones

If you could hang out with the grim reaper for a night before he took you to the beyond, would you? In filmmaker Tiger Ji’s short dark comedy film Death and Ramen, we see the central character Timmy (Bobby Lee) do just that.

After swallowing a bunch of pills and eating his favourite (last) meal, Timmy thinks he’s about to depart this world quickly and quietly. But when a grim reaper (Breaking Bad’s Matt Jones) rocks up and fireman-lifts him across town, the pair are both surprised when Timmy awakens and starts blowing chunks, meaning the afterlife is going to have to wait.

The links between food and souls are long established, and with Death and Ramen, the film is able to successfully celebrate life’s glorious minutia whilst being shadowed by a fairly tragic tale of one man’s suicide. There is certainly a bittersweet aspect to the short film that works and the comedy is never too boisterous to risk dropping the sombre notes altogether, or vice versa.

Bobby Lee and Matt Jones are a match made in, ahem, heaven, perfect casting. The quasi-bromance that gets established is a joy to watch and the film is littered with small moments of nuanced performance from both actors that engage the viewer and make them invested in this “last night on Earth” epic night out. The dancing sequence on the rooftop is a particular highlight.

We reviewed Tiger Ji’s other short film, Wuhan Driver, and it seems this filmmaker is able to deliver strong pieces of poignant drama. With Death and Ramen, the poignancy seems to blend really nicely with the film’s other, ahem, ingredients such as the comedy and heartfelt warmth. The delivery of ramen to Timmy’s mother in a nursing home is a great example of this blend, a scene filled with comedy (bashing through the window), sadness (his mother on a hospital-style bed), and warmth (a tear-jerking story about eating this particular ramen dish on Sunday mornings). All of these genres swirling around beautifully is what makes Death and Ramen such a special film, and Tiger Ji a promising filmmaker to observe.

As with all short films, the question begs whether this works as a perfectly executed short or a proof of concept for a potentially great feature. It’s my pleasure to reveal that Death and Ramen is both. If we get more of this in a longer format, tuck my bib in now, but if this is all there is then I am satiated with a short film full of subtle beauty, life-affirming characters, and a sublime gag about the Grim Reaper gig going corporate and even having a union.

About the Film Critic
Chris Olson
Chris Olson
Short Film
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