The Fung Brothers: Din Tai Fung ft. Dannie Riel

Fung_Brothers_Din_Tai_FungAs you know, I’m a big fan of the Taiwanese restaurant chain Din Tai Fung, and most recently blogged about their new restaurant opening up later this year in San Gabriel Valley.

Well, apparently the YouTube sensation The Fung Brothers are fans of Din Tai Fung as well, at the Arcadia, California location, put together this entertaining overview of DTF with import model Dannie Riel.

 

2015 Austin Asian American Film Fest Early Submission Deadline on June 1st

8A-2015-05-29-aaaff-light-logoThe Austin Asian American Film Festival (AAAFF) is one of the premiere Asian American festivals in the American Southwest.

The festival is committed to bringing the best in Asian and Asian American cinema to the vibrant city of Austin. It is well attended and is supported by prominent cultural organizations and local businesses in one of the top cities for film in the US. The 2015 Austin Asian American Film Festival will be held from November 12th to November 15th. This four day event will be jam packed with exciting panels, discussions and screenings.

The early submission deadline for the Austin Asian American Film Festival ends this coming Monday, June 1st. If you’re an Asian American filmmaker or have a film that highlights the Asian American experience, submit your film.

Submissions will be accepted in the following categories:
* Narrative Feature
* Narrative Short
* Documentary Feature
* Documentary Short

Movie Review: Kung Fu Killer

The title of this movie sounds pretty standard as kung fu movies come. You’d expect that there’s a really strong kung fu guy who kills a lot of people. Well, that is actually the case, but there is a pretty interesting plot in place. Basically, there is a serial killer that kills only martial artists, and he doesn’t just go around taking out master martial artists with like a bazooka or anything–he kills them with the martial arts they are the most skilled at.

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Donnie Yen plays the role of an expert martial artist (of course) who has been locked up in jail because he once killed a man in a martial arts duel. He gets himself released from jail on the special condition that he can help catch this martial arts serial killer.

What I enjoyed about this film was that it basically took a sort of murder mystery CSI approach to a classic kung fu martial arts tournament and melded two successful formulas into one, and that made for a pretty interesting plot, albeit still a bit predictable, but that’s what you would expect with a formula plus formula plot.

Also, there’s a bit of underlying martial arts angst, the struggle between martial arts as an art form of self expression and improvement against martial arts as brutal killing technique. In that sense, the title “Kung Fu Killer” can have a multiple meanings, skilled kung fu master that kills many, skilled killer of kung fu master, or the existential killer of kung fu as an art form.

I think this film was probably made with people who have an appreciation for the fundamental values of martial arts as the target audience, but for anyone who can’t understand why Ken vs. Ryu and Naruto vs. Sasuke are just fights that have to happen, it’s a pretty high action, high impact, ground and pound them kung fu movie with an interesting storyline that anyone can find exciting to watch.

CAAM: The Golden Spike

The_Golden_Spike2015 marks the 150th anniversary of the completion of the western half of the Transcontinental Railroad by Chinese immigrants.Often, the immigrant Chinese’s role in this historic accomplishment has been literally white washed.

As part of celebrating Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, the Center for Asian American Media-produced YouTube-hosted mini-documentary presents the story of these 10,000 forgotten workers through photographs, paintings and political cartoons from the period.

 

8Books Review: “The Sympathizer” by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Viet Thanh Nguyen’s expertly and cunningly crafted debut novel The Sympathizer dictates a confession in the years after the end of the Vietnam War. At it’s very base, this is a spy’s story. Told from his perspective to an unnamed Commandant (and equally so to the reader), the narrative unfolds from shortly before the so-called fall of Saigon in 1975 when Communist forces took over the city from the Republic of Vietnam.

“The Sympathizer” is a man who sees things from both sides, a Communist mole who at times feels conflicting individual loyalties, to people and causes. Though a plot moves the tale along, the true strength of this book lies in the moments where the narrator reasons through his thought process in an almost stream-of-conscious manner that is utterly rational, convoluted, and simultaneously cynical and optimistic–which is to say, incredibly smartly written. From the very first paragraph, Nguyen draws you in…

I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man of two faces. Perhaps not surprisingly, I am also a man of two minds. I am not some misunderstood mutant from a comic book or a horror movie, although some have treated me such. I am simply able to see any issue from both sides. Sometimes I flatter myself that this is a talent, and although it is admittedly one of a minor nature, it is perhaps also the sole talent I possess. At other times, when I observe the world in such a fashion, I wonder if what I have should even be called a talent. After all, a talent is something you use, not something that uses you.

And so the story unfolds, with the narrator turning his wit against one and all, from the Americans who supported and trained South Vietnamese during the war, to the South Vietnamese generals who hold on to hope beyond hope after being exiled in the chaotic flight from Saigon, to the Communists who dictate the spy’s missions.

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US Memorial Day: Remembering Captain Francis Wai

Francis_Brown_WaiIn 1996, the United States Congress ordered a new look at the stories of Asian American soldiers to see if any were passed up for appropriate medals.   As a result, in 2000, Frances Wai’s Distinguished Service Cross medal was upgraded to the Congressional Medal of Honor.   Wai was a noted athlete who was killed in action the Philippines in 1944. I thought it appropriate to remember Captain Francis Wai on US Memorial Day as someone who was the exact opposite of so many Asian American male stereotypes.

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AAPI MMA Fighters win at UFC Fight Night 66 in Manila as Mark Munoz Retires


Three Asian American/Pacific Islander MMA fighters won at UFC Fight Night 66 in Manila (Pasay to be exact) Philippines.  Jon “The Super Saiyan” Tuck, the first Chamorro signed to the UFC, submitted Tae Hyun Bang, by rear naked choke.  Mark “the Filipino Wrecking Machine” Munoz won his last match before retiring via unanimous decision over Luke Barnatt.  In his return to the UFC, Phillipe “The Filipino Assassin” Nover won a split decision victory over Yui Chul NammarkI thought he lost that deciding critical second round, but it was close.

It’s interesting how the UFC has used Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to enter new markets in Asia.   Cung Le, known in Asian for his action movie roles, headlined the UFC’s first event in China and later coached the Ultimate Fighter China.  Asia is not that far for Jon Tuck (he’s from Guam), who also was on the main card with Le in Macao in that first event.  Mark Munoz did tours and rallies in the Philippines to bring a UFC event there.   Munoz sold his MMA gym Reign and retired in order to spend more time with his family.

16-year-old Asian Exchange Student Gored by Bison in Yellowstone

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A 16-year-old exchange student from Taiwan staying with a host family in the United States visits Yellowstone National Park, stands three feet away from a live wild bison, turns her back to it for a picture, and is gored in the back by the wild bison, as reported by CNN. The girl was serious wounded but the injury was not in critical condition. She was with her host American host family on the visit.

Asian American Medical Hazard: Food Allergies

800px-Awadhi_prawnsMy father developed an allergy to shrimp, one of his favorite foods.  When he ate shrimp anyway, my mother warned him in Tagalog that he would get itchy.  “Then I’ll scratch,” was his reply.  While I laugh when I think about that story, for other Asian Americans, reactions to food allergies are not at all funny.   18 year old BJ Hom died from eating a dessert that he did not know contained peanuts.  A recent article by Grace Hwang Lynch (of the Hapa Mama blog) points out that Asian American children are 40% more likely to have food allergies than the general population, according to this 2011 study published in the Journal Pediatrics, but less likely than whites to have a confirmed food allergy diagnosis.  She also mentions that Asian American food allergies tend to be different from those of other Americans.

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Asian American Commercial Watch: Mad Men’s Series Finale: ‘I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke Commercial’

I’m a fan of the now completed AMC series ‘Mad Men,‘ (though I have to say, relative to ‘Breaking Bad,’ I thought was somewhat over-rated). This past week, ‘Mad Men’ concluded its series and the last scene is with one of the most famous, recognized and successful television commercials of all time, Coca-Cola’s ‘I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke Commercial‘ – and quite possible the first Asian American Commercial Watch post I would ever write – if I were a brilliant genius baby, since the commercial first aired in the year I was born in 1971.

In watching, and re-watching the famous Coke ad, I couldn’t help myself in noticing these Asian faces (amongst others in the crowd):

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After reading this Slate article on “What Coke Taught the World 111 56 13 The “It’s the Real Thing” ads were among the first to recognize the market potential of a multicultural America.” – and replaying the commercial many times, that I thought I should blog about this commercial and agree with these sentiments:

“The hilltop commercial was among the first that Coca-Cola shot in full color. More important, it was perhaps the nation’s first colorized one—an unusual advertisement that admitted a possible multicultural future beyond whiteness.

Conceived during the fall of 1968, the Real Thing commercials would incept the drink into a new dream of America, in which divisions between young and old, counterculture and mainstream, Black and white, poor and rich, liberal and conservative had been resolved. In this era of fragmentation and unrest, it was time for the universal drink, like Brand U.S. itself, to reassert some alpha swag.”

Certainly, a vision much brighter than the racist Calgon commercial of “Ancient Chinese secret, huh?” which had aired in the 1970s as well that I had commented about so long ago:

To be honest, I am shocked that Coca-Cola does not have a higher quality video of their iconic commercial hosted on YouTube or elsewhere (like their homepage!).

A lot of people didn’t like the ending of ‘Mad Men’ in regards to the main character, Don Draper, but to me, it’s clear that he returned back to New York City and created the the Coca-Cola commercial in ‘Mad Men”s fictionalized world.

 

Traveling Japan: Mr. Donuts

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When I’m Stateside, I actually hardly ever have donuts. But when in Asia, with Mister Donuts in easy access, I have donuts almost every day. Not a bad thing, but it does make it a bit of a relief that Mister Donuts isn’t here in Los Angeles yet because I would either get sick of them really easily or gain a lot of fat weight quick from eating way too many of them or both. Last time, it was Mister Donuts in Taiwan, this time it’s in Japan, and there seem to be way more Mister Donut shops in Japan than in Taiwan. And every time I see one, I would buy a dozen and snack on them all day, sharing some with friends, of course.

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Part of the fun is trying all these different unusual flavors. Of course, I don’t always enjoy every donut I try, but I quickly figure out which ones are my favorites. This trip, I realized that I really love the cream filled ones, and I tried and love the cronuts or croissant donuts, especially the ones filled with cream! Seriously delicious!

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The White House Summit on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders: Historic Gathering of Almost 2,000 People

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This week, on May 12, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders hosted the first-ever White House Summit on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Washington, DC. Nearly 2,000 community members, federal officials, and guests from over 40 states and the Pacific Islands came together to connect with one other, share their experiences and stories, and gain tools to mobilize their communities to continue expanding opportunity for AAPIs everywhere.

President Obama sent a video message to the Summit participants:

Said Kiran Ahuja, the Executive Director of the Initiative:

Throughout this summit, we heard the same clear message across federal government: we are working hard to better reach and serve the dynamic and diverse needs of our nation’s growing AAPI community. That is precisely why WHIAAPI focuses on building bridges between government and advocacy groups, institutions, and local communities. To further these goals, we focused our plenaries, fireside chats with government leaders, nearly 25 panel discussions, and brown bag lunches – on highlighting and addressing issues that impact AAPI communities around the country. Topics discussed spanned the gamut, from bullying and harassment in schools to the power of immigrant and refugee voices to social entrepreneurship.

Check out the Flickr photoset from the day: https://flic.kr/ps/UJEah

About the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

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