Ethan (played by actor Jun Hee Lee) is an LA-born Asian American teenager from a culturally traditional home. With an annoying younger brother (David Tran) and jerk of a stepbrother (Kevin Kleinberg), Ethan is saddled as the middle child.
Raymond Ma plays Ethan’s father, a stern and traditional Asian patriarch. Ethan’s step-mother, played by Julia Nickson, is a narcissistic cold woman who can’t seem to love another woman’s child as much as her own. In essence, Ethan has a turbulent and unforgiving family life. This not-so-perfect family is even further disrupted when Ethan is caught with gay pornography. Unable to accept a gay son in his household, Ethan’s father promptly kicks him out of the house.
Ethan immediately becomes a homeless prostitute. The audience sees Ethan evolve from a doe-eye young boy to…a doe-eyed and desperate male prostitute. That is, until Ethan comes across Remigio (played by Jerry Hernandez), a drug dealer who takes Ethan under his wing. Even though he has a savior in the streets with a place to sleep and warm food in his belly, Ethan still declines to start a relationship with Remigio. Rather, he enlists his counterpart’s help in returning to his childhood home to recover a diamond necklace that once belonged to his mother.
Ethan manages to break into his home, but gets caught by his family. Cornered, he and Remigio take the family hostage, a moment that spirals into cataclysmic series of events in Ethan Mao.
“Much like Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the recent Mysterious Skin, the title character in Ethan Mao comes of age through a cruel deflowering that leaves him condemned to the dangerous life of a hustler.”
— Scott Tobias, A.V. Club
Did You Know?
This “little film that could,” Ethan Mao suffers only due to limited budget. Writer/director Quentin Lee seems to be managing this film more than directing and nurturing it. This is evident in the fact that all of the actors, including the lead, had less than 3 credits to their names at the time of filming. Review our Gay Themed Films Here