‘Snakehead’ Review: Fabulous Central Performances Lift This New York Crime Tale out of the Ordinary

The familiar story of a new recruit rising through the ranks of organized crime is given a punchy female Asian twist in “Snakehead.” , this first narrative feature by documentary maker Evan Jackson Leong (“Linsanity”) is highlighted by outstanding performances by Shuya Chang as the fearless newbie and Jade Wu as the matriarch of a family specializing in the nasty business of human smuggling.

Though it switches tone abrasively at times, and some story aspects feel a little too formulaic, “Snakehead” burns brightly when focused on the Faustian relationship of its formidable female characters.

The future looks promising for Leong’s long-gestating labor of love, which opens in theaters and online on Oct.

29 following its major launch at Toronto.“Snakehead” opens with a sobering statement about the scale of illegal immigration and how human traffickers known as Snakeheads charge $50,000 for passage to the U.S.

The first words we hear are

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