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Film / Beyond Paradise

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Beyond Paradise is a 1998 independent film by David L. Cunningham, based extremely loosely on his experiences in Hawaii as a teenager. It was his first feature film, and his previous work was sponsored infomercial style documentaries.

The film is a primarily a Slice of Life look at a teen's experiences with his friends, but it also deals heavily with the racial tensions in Hawaii. The movie was suggested by the Hawaiian tourism board at one time, but is almost unheard of outside of Hawaii, due in no small part to its low budget and stiff acting.

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Has examples of:

  • An Aesop: The speeches by the teacher, particularly the anti-racism speech.
  • Asshole Victim: Aku, when Ronnie smashes his head in.
  • Culture Blind: Mark. To the point of face palming exasperation at one point.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Lehua ends up a single mother at the end of the movie. Mark goes to Film School, so there is no romance in the end.
  • Drugs Are Bad: A big part of the conflict between Mark and his friends, specifically Ronnie and Keao.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ronnie, at least eventually.
  • Noble Bigot: Ronnie.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Ronnie Definitely won the fight against Aku, but it lands him in prison (and the film doesn't make it clear if Aku survived, meaning he may be in for murder.)
  • Scenery Porn: It is Hawaii, after all. Parts of the movie feel like a travel advertisement. A couple of scenes border on Scenery Gorn, too, such as where Lehua's party was.
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