Hidden Netflix Gems: ‘Ping Pong Playa’


Graphic By: Kennedy Homan

Ridiculous, obnoxious, and for sure a good time. 2007’s second biggest Table Tennis related movie. “Ping Pong Playa” is a low budget indie film I stumbled upon on Netflix.

I clicked play, because why not. It was one of the best decisions of my life.


The film opens up with clips of our hero, Christopher “C-Dub” Wang, dunking and draining shots on a basketball court. Intertwined with the opening credits, it is slowly revealed that the hoop is about 8 feet tall, and his competition is about 8 years old respectively.


After running the game back due to trash talk from the losing 4th graders, C-Dub is late to his job at a cell phone case kiosk in the local mall. Begging for his job back, Chris blurts out “I swear on the graves of 18 generations of my ancestors, I ain’t gonna be late again.” C-Dub’s jokes and one-liners were unlike anything I had ever heard in a movie.


The story is simple by nature, but when you take a deeper look, there are many things going on. C-Dub, still living in his JV basketball days, sits at home at 25 playing video games without any responsibility. His parents run a Table Tennis store in suburban California, while his older brother is in the medical field and has great success as a ping-pong player.


His brother and his mom get into a minor car accident, leaving them both unable to teach or play ping-pong. In their place, the recently unemployed C-Dub takes ahold of his mom’s table tennis classes. This in turn leads him into a mentoring role, as well as a ping-pong competition “The Golden Cock,” which his brother had claimed the past few years.


C-Dub is an individual who feels like he’s lost in the shadow of his family. He feels attacked by stereotypes and lashes out many times in the movie. His father is a walking cliche, who gets on C-Dub’s back for not being more like his brother. After he finds out that Chris is hustling children “White Men Can’t Jump” style, he waits for him at the door and chases him around the house yelling at him. This is a turning point in the movie and Chris has to win back the respect of his Dad.


He figures he can do this by signing himself up for the Ping-Pong tournament. A chance at “The Golden Cock” is the one thing that can fix his relationship with his dad. His father agrees to train him, as it would be good business for the store to keep the title in the family.


I could relate to C-Dub as a character. The passion for basketball without being great at it, living in the shadow of my older brother, as well as a love for breakfast cereal and video games were all things I could relate to.


This made the film connect with me more. On top of the witty writing and the hilarious characters, the small budget did not affect the movie in any way. Although I went in expecting a joke, I came out with the knowledge of a special gem.


I could see how someone could not like the movie, parts of it are cringe-inducing if you can not get over it. If you come in expecting a quality piece of cinema to talk about on a first date in a stuffy coffee shop, look elsewhere.


This film has a little bit of “Rocky” in it. Think “Rocky” meets “Dodgeball.” A training montage at the local park. The quirkiness of the characters and jokes. There is a Chinese vs. British quarrel throughout the flick. One scene in particular where Mr. Wang is in a heated argument with an Englishman about the creator of the sport. “China produced the 4 great inventions: paper, the compass, gunpowder, and the printing press. But people forget about the 5th great invention. Ping pong,.” stated Mr. Wang.


“Ping Pong Playa” is a movie about a man’s second chance. A man trying to find his place in the world, who conquers his demons and defends his family’s “honor”. Director and writer Jessica Yu crafts a hilarious movie that changed the way I look at comedy.


Ping Pong Playa is on Netflix. If you are looking for a solid 96 minutes of entertainment, head this way. I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.