Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (2017)

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail tells the incredible saga of the Chinese immigrant Sung family, owners of Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, New York. Accused of mortgage fraud by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., Abacus… More

Directed By:
Rated: Unrated
Running Time:
Genre: Documentary
Release Date: May 19, 2017
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Critic Score: 92% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews

Consensus: Abacus: Small Enough to Jail transcends its less-than-dramatic trappings to present a gripping real-life legal thriller with far-reaching implications.

Tom Long
Detroit News

"Abacus" is probably the only film made in the past decade that could get an audience rooting for a bank, but it does just that.

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Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times

It's not every day that you end up rooting for a bank, but the story "Abacus: Small Enough to Jail" tells is no ordinary tale.

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Dominic Ellis

An acutely observed portrait of the lives of first and second generation Chinese immigrants, subjects who otherwise don't see much in the way of Hollywood limelight.

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Pat Padua
Washington Post

Using drawings and courtroom testimony, James creates a tense courtroom drama out of seemingly dry material.

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Peter Hartlaub
San Francisco Chronicle

The lack of action is made up for by the gumption of the accused banking family, whose respect for each other is apparent even as they bicker and interrupt each other over trial strategy, press releases and the catered lunch.

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Glenn Dunks
Film Experience

The modesty of its subjects, both corporate and human, clearly rubbed off on James who has crafted a standardly assembled yet no less enthralling documentary about what is now a particularly peculiar footnote in the history of American law

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Mark Feeney
Boston Globe

Steve James's impressively economical documentary folds together the events that led to the case, the place of Abacus in the Chinese-American community, the 2015 trial, and its aftermath.

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Brad Wheeler
Globe and Mail

The film's director, who would make an excellent character witness for the defence, raises ... questions but frustratingly doesn't answer them in an otherwise compelling documentary.

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Edward Porter
Times (UK)

When Steve James's documentary suggests that Abacus was the victim of a concerted Establishment plot... it doesn't have quite enough evidence for a conviction, but it is an absorbing study of the court case, the bank and Chinatown itself.

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