Beauty of Asia

My filmmaker friend Ringo and I just came back from a screening of Luc Besson’s latest opus The Lady with Michelle Yeoh and David Thewlis and we got into a heated debate about the movie and essentially the beauty of cinema and representing Asia. I was quite excited about the screening as I love Luc Besson, Michelle Yeoh and David Thewlis… but sitting through the 127 minutes movie about the story of pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi and her professor husband Michael Aris proved slightly underwhelming.

“But you gotta give it credit that it’s an Asian movie trying to be an Oscar contender,” said Ringo. “I like the movie because it’s really trying to tell an untold Asian story to the global audience.”

Six Films Where The Asian Sidekick Is More Interesting Than The Protagonist

The new trailer for the upcoming Seth Rogen-starring Green Hornet film was just released last week (see below) to mostly positive fan reaction. That plus a recent test screening of the film that went well must be welcome news for the filmmakers after the mostly bad buzz that has been dogging the production from the start.

Of course anyone who knows anything about the Green Hornet knows that the real star of the show is Asian sidekick Kato, most famously played by martial arts legend Bruce Lee in the short-lived 1960s television series. This time, Jay Chou is Kato and if the new trailer is any indication, it looks like the character will definitely have a chance to shine so we’ll see if Chou is up to the task. Check out the trailer here:

In the meantime, here are six more films (in no particular order) where the Asian “sidekick” stole the picture from right under the nose of the white protagonist:

Movies That Should Have Starred Asians: Meet The Parents

Sweet and slightly neurotic “ethnic” guy meets and falls in love with blonde WASP beauty. He accompanies her to meet her equally WASP parents where he finds himself under the suspicious eye of her protective and scary father. Things get worse when ethnic guy initiates a series of missteps, which makes an already tense situation worse. This is the plot of the hit 2000 comedy Meet The Parents starring Ben Stiller as Greg “Gaylord” Focker a.k.a. neurotic ethnic guy (Jewish in this case) and Robert DeNiro as scary dad Jack Byrnes, but it could also describe the various times my white girlfriends took me to meet their folks for the first time. So why not Meet The Parents starring an Asian American dude in the Stiller role? It might look something like this:

Yup, if someone like my fellow Offender Roger Fan had stepped into the part, the story would have still worked with minimal changes to the script. In fact, the basic premise of the “outsider” boyfriend meeting his fiancee’s “all-American” family would be even more strengthened if said boyfriend was really “different” i.e. Asian. But couldn’t that character be any person of color–not necessarily Asian? I don’t think so. It wouldn’t have the same impact if the boyfriend were black or Latino even though they could also represent the “outsider.” Why?