The story of an ex-pro football player looking to make it at a law firm, the initial inspiration for Law Chen’s I Don’t Make the Rules was the personal story of its star, Myles Humphus. Although Myles now has a second spring as an actor and stunt double for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, he went through similar struggles as those experienced by his character in the film.
“As a former NFL player with the Cleveland Browns for less than a season before being released, he had trouble finding a stable career”, Chen explains. “His short turn-out in the league and challenges of finding a career afterwards is a common experience shared amongst ex-athletes”.
With Humphus’ real-life journey ringing in his ears the director felt motivated to tell an ‘unsuccess’ story – the story of “the underdogs that never won. The players who are working blue collar odd jobs to make ends meet, who would do anything for a stable office career”.
“I wanted I Don’t Make The Rules to explore ethical decisions in the face of need”, the filmmaker reveals. “If you’re desperate to get a job to support a family or pay the bills, what would you be willing to do? Would you screw over a fellow human being in order to get it? What if they needed it more than you? If it’s survival of the fittest, is it okay to do whatever it takes just to survive? The ethical questions arise when need and desperation trump good and evil.”
This moral dilemma is the main selling point for the film. While its calm and insightful portrait of the protagonist and the world he has to live in is fascinating, it all builds up to that final question of one own’s self-judgement. When the drunken, arrogant lawyer from the scene in front of the club at first seems more like a caricature of a self-absorbed prick, it only raises the stakes when our hero has to face him later on. As a viewer, our answer to the charcter’s conflict defines our relationship with him as much as our own moral compass. How would we decide? How far would we be willing to go in this situation?
I Don’t Make The Rules is a fine testament to the filmmaking talents of Law Chen, who at the moment is writing and directing a scifi/drama mini-series produced by Justin Lin (Fast and Furious, Star Trek Beyond).