Randall Park is awesome as Agent Jimmy Woo in ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’

With the box office domination of all things in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), a lot of people don’t need an extra reason to see the latest Ant-Man movie, Ant-Man and the Wasp.

If you’re a Randall Park fan, as I have been for years, you will be happy to finally see his handsome face on the big screen in this film, after his casting had been announced a year ago. I was able to see an early screening on the Disney lot earlier this week and without spoiling the storyline, Randall stars as Agent Jimmy Woo, a character with a long history in the the comic book world. While he isn’t one of the two major characters in the title, he has a decent-sized role with a storyline that makes sense and a lot of funny lines.

His hilarious interactions with Ant-Man (played by Paul Rudd) make me wish for a spin-off film for just Agent Jimmy Woo.

Hey, Marvel, why not!?

Non-spoiler review of ‘STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI’ in 8 words: “Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico is awesome”

Actor Kelly Marie Tran at Star Wars: The Last Jedi Premiere at The Shrine Auditorium on December 9, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….

…Asians finally became a key part of the STAR WARS saga.

TL;DR: The Tico Sisters rock my galaxy.

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI opens in U.S. theaters on December 15, and in this installment of “Episode VIII,” we finally get to meet mechanic Rose Tico, played by actress Kelly Marie Tran.

I say “finally” because it has been more than 2 years since the infamous Comic-Con Q&A where Ryan and Corinne asked J.J. Abrams point-blank if there would be Asians in STAR WARS (see video and transcript in John’s original post).

And it has been over a year since Kelly Marie Tran was announced as a key member of the cast.

While there have been a number of other Asian faces in minor roles in STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (Episode VII), Tran’s character– Rose Tico– is the kind of character who has the storyline and screen time that has previously only been seen in other STAR WARS films with other ethnicities, droids, or aliens of different kinds.

Kelly Marie Tran poses backstage for the world premiere of Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, December 9, 2017. (Photo: Alex J. Berliner / ABImages )

It’s actually because of her sister, Paige Tico (actress Veronica Ngo), that we actually meet Rose. But hey, I said there would be no spoilers here, so all you need to know is that both sisters are awesome and even if you’re not Asian, you might feel like cheering for them when they’re on screen.

Sorry to disappoint, if you’re here for an actual real review with no spoilers, this is all you get right now. I do think it’s worth it to go to the theater and see Tran and Ngo on the big screen, because aside from them, there are some fights and battles and stuff. In space… ooops, did I say too much? I will say that it is absolutely exhilarating to see an Asian American face on-screen with such a meaningful storyline and with some actual character development. And if you care about the non-Asians in that universe, yeah they’re there, too.

I’ll end this post with some of my favorite pictures from the world premiere which was held in Los Angeles, where stars Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern and Benicio Del Toro were joined by writer/director Rian Johnson and producers Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman for a walk down the red carpet where they greeted enthusiastic fans at the world premiere of Lucasfilm’s STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI.

Kathleen Kennedy, John Williams, Director Rian Johnson, Anthony Daniels, Lupita Nyong’o, Benicio Del Toro, Mark Hamill, Bob Iger, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, Joonas Suotamo, John Boyega, Alan Horn, Kelly Marie Tran, Andy Serkis, Laura Dern, Ram Bergman, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie pose together backstage for the world premiere of Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, December 9, 2017. (Photo: Alex J. Berliner / ABImages )
Actors John Boyega (L) and Kelly Marie Tran at Star Wars: The Last Jedi Premiere at The Shrine Auditorium on December 9, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)
(L-R) Actors Lupita Nyong’o, Joonas Suotamo, John Boyega, and Kelly Marie Tran at Star Wars: The Last Jedi Premiere at The Shrine Auditorium on December 9, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

LAAPFF 2017: ‘King of Peking’ (京城之王)

8Asians is proud to be a community co-presenter of this film at the 2017 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF). As a reader of 8Asians, please enjoy a discount to this film using the code: 8AZN17. Or the code CGVBP17 for $4 off General Admission tickets to all Buena Park screenings!

Screenings
May 2, 2017 at 9:30 PM (Downtown Independent)
May 10, 2017 at 6:30 pm (CGV Buena Park)

King of Peking 京城之王
Directed by Sam Voutas

International Competition, LAAPFF Best of the Fest in OC / Australia, China, USA / 2017 / 88 mins / Mandarin with English subtitles / Color / 16:9, D-Cinema / West Coast Premiere

Sam Voutas and Producer Melanie Ansley in attendance!

“A heartwarming story about movie piracy,” just doesn’t gel well at a film festival where the theatrical experience is the enterprise’s bread and butter. Yet in the case of Sam Voutas’s sophomore directorial feature KING OF PEKING, this tagline fits the story to a tee. Set in late ‘90s China, KING OF PEKING evokes CINEMA PARADISO in its depiction of a country at the cusp of a socio-cultural explosion into a new century of economic prosperity.

Big Wong and Little Wong are a close-knit father-son duo. They travel around in a mobile cinema projecting Hollywood movies for local villagers. When Big Wong’s ex-wife demands he start paying child support, he realizes he may lose custody of his son. In order to raise enough money to stay together, Big Wong takes up a job as a janitor in an old Beijing movie theater. Happening upon an old DVD recorder at a pawnshop, he hatches a plan to raise money to pay for child support and retain custody of Little Wong. Setting up shop in the basement of the theater, Big Wong secretly records movies after hours and the result is the birth of a nascent bootleg DVD empire. At first, Little Wong has a good head for this business, which they name ‘King of Peking.’ But as business booms, Little Wong soon develops a crisis of conscience over the moral and ethical implications of this scheme. Big Wong sees his son’s torment and senses that he may be losing his trust.

Like his first film RED LIGHT REVOLUTON (Festival 2011), director Voutas’ stories capture working-class heroes trying to buck the system, infusing them with inherently Chinese nuances (thanks in part to his many years living and working in China, along with his producer and partner Melanie Ainsley). KING OF PEKING is an ode to cinema that eschews the sappy histrionics often associated with the magic and inspiration of the movies. This gritty take on a movie pirate’s desperate attempt to keep his son brims with inflections of Hollywood movie plots and characters that permeate into their everyday lives. It is an endearing love letter to cinema, but one populated by pedicab drivers, factory workers, fathers and sons.

— Anderson Le

LAAPFF 2017: ‘Plastic China’

8Asians is proud to be a community co-presenter of this film at the 2017 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF). As a reader of 8Asians, please enjoy a discount to this film using the code: 8AZN17

Screenings
April 30 at 4:00 PM (CGV Cinemas 3)

Plastic China
Directed by Jiu-Liang Wang
International Competition / China / 2016 / 82 mins / Mandarin with English subtitles / Color / 16:9, D-Cinema / Los Angeles Premiere

Eleven year old Yi-Jie plays with her younger brothers in piles of used plastic materials, often made into wondrous simulacra of modern life. Sheets of confectionery wrapping become colorful wallpaper; old newspapers and grocery store leaflets take flight, either as a superhero cape or an English lesson. While her family lives and works alongside their employer in the ever-continuous task of sifting, processing, melting and reformatting the vestiges of the first world, Yi-Jie takes care of the household. Being put to task by her ne’er-do-well father, a Yi minority man who brought his family to a small industrial town that is thousands of miles away from home, Yi-Jie remains ever willful and perspicacious, stealing moments away to learn a new word or concept — or to observe the parallel lives of Kun, their family’s employer, while he aspires and works hard towards achieving a better life for his own peasant-rooted family.

Director Wang Jiu-liang spent years investigating the post-consumer waste industrial systems which link China to the rest of the world (and vice versa), beginning with his renowned photography work and documentary BEIJING BESIEGED BY WASTE (2011). His unique approach to the award-winning documentary PLASTIC CHINA, however, remains far from didactic or inflammatory. Closely following two families over six years, this work invites us to see the universal in the ultra-personal: we may witness difficult family conversations, take stock in the banality (and toxicity) of their work, decipher divisions along ethnic and social classes, and even rejoice at the miracle of life. Coming full circle, then, the film may even prepare us to answer the question: How are we personally connected to one girl’s dreams of going to school, and what are we doing about it?

— Chanel Kong

#SubmitToHate and “ThankYouDonald” on Instagram is documenting social media accounts of #WhiteLash

8a-2016-11-10-thankyoudonald

I am just going to link to ThankYouDonald and let the posts speak for themselves.

The account description is:

Thank You, Donald. Bearing witness to the #WhiteLash. Contribute photos/screenshots by tagging them with #SubmitToHate. I wish this account didn’t need to exist.

I wish this account didn’t need to exist, either.

(Note: I am not the person who started that account)

The 2016 US Election is over. What is your reaction?

8a-2016-11-2016electionI feel that this is a good time for us to revisit one of the original goals of 8Asians– to hear the diverse voices and opinions from our multifaceted communities of Asian Americans/Asian Canadians/Asian Australians/English speaking Asians from around the world.

Our writers used to regularly TalkAbout things, but we fell out of that habit.

So I ask you, do you have something to say to our community? What is your post-election reaction?

Let us know in the comments (be civil!), click the moodthingy below, message us privately, or submit a guest post.

8$: ‘Rice on White,’ Asian American Sex Comedy Feature Film

8$ is a series which occasionally highlights interesting crowdfunding projects. Every day, the 8Asians team is inundated by many worthy pitches. We are unable to highlight every one that comes our way, or even the ones we might individually support. The projects selected for 8$ are not endorsements by 8Asians. (To be considered for 8$, we highly suggest you not harass the writers or the editors of 8Asians.)

8a-2016-09-25-riceonwhiteWHO: The Rice on White Team

Talun Hsu (director/producer) – Talun is a veteran of independent films. Being a writer, director and producer, Talun knows all the tricks of the trade to make things happen.
Joe Ho & Brent Tonick (writers/producers/cast) – Joe & Brent are just like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck… but more attractive. They are lifelong friends who have been writing and acting together since they were teenagers.

Eddie Mui (associate producer) – Eddie was a working actor in his hometown of Seattle performing in various main stage shows before moving to LA to focus more on television and film.

Fiona Gubelmann (cast) – Fiona is a ferociously talented actress with a long list of credits to her name both in television and film.

Jun Kim (cast) – A multilingual and multi-ethnic former stock broker, Jun Kim was born and raised in Hong Kong.

Charles Kim (cast) – A native Angeleno, Charles Kim did not start acting for paying audiences until he moved to Washington State, where he caught “the acting bug” while attending law school.

Kathy Uyen (cast) – a Vietnamese American actress, producer, and screenwriter who is best known for her leading roles in Vietnamese cinema.

Brian Drolet (cast) – an actor/comedian/writer/producer, Brian also was a cast member of season one of MTV’s smash hit “The Hills” among his extensive list of acting credits.

Cast also includes: Trieu Tran (HBO’s “The Newsroom”, “Tropic Thunder”), Sekou Andrews (“The Sea of Dreams”), Haley Cummings (Adult Film Star), Caroline Macey (episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Medium” and other shows), John Fukuda (“John Wang’s Nebraska”, “Someone I Used to Know”), Kelli McNeil (episodes of “My Crazy Ex”, “CSI” and other shows), Lynn Chen (“Saving Face”, HBO’s “Silicon Valley”), Karin Anna Cheung (“Better Luck Tomorrow”, “The People I’ve Slept With”), Cathy Shim (Comedy Central’s “Reno 911!”, Fox’s “MADtv”)

Crew includes: Rebecca Hu (line producer) (“Pretty Rosebud”), Chadwick Struck (casting director) (“Outlaws and Angels”, “Mini’s First Time”), Chia-Yu Chen (cinematographer) (Ads for “Coca Cola” and “Hugo Boss”, among others), Jessica Lee (costume designer) (Crackle’s “Sequestered”), Ellen Ho (production coordinator) (“Ktown Cowboys”, “Dilated”), Linda Chi (makeup/hair), Daren Dien (production), Ryan Fung (production)

WHAT: Kickstarter project: Rice on White – Comedy Feature Film

Whether it’s Emma Stone being cast as a quarter-Chinese, quarter-Pacific Islander character or all-American Matt Damon protecting the Great Wall of China, “whitewashing” has been a hot topic lately. We, the filmmakers of Rice on White, are huge movie fans (and big fans of Stone and Damon btw) but we also would like to see a world where Asian-Americans are fairly represented in television and cinema.

Social media outrage and online petitions can be helpful – we’ve participated in our share of both – but we thought it more constructive to be the change we want to see. Rice on White is the result. This is a hilarious mainstream romantic comedy / guy comedy in the same vein as films such as “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”, “Knocked Up” and “American Pie” with something you don’t see every day: Asians leading the way instead of being cast as the sidekicks.

WHEN: Deadline to contribute is Thursday, September 29, 2016 (12:00 AM PDT).

WHY:

There aren’t many mainstream movies with Asian Americans in lead roles or even behind the camera. We hope to change that but in order to do so we need opportunities to convince Hollywood studios that Asian American films can be successful. At the end of the day though, this is a movie, not a political statement. We think we have a funny and entertaining movie starring Asian-Americans that could be a crossover hit popular with audiences from all backgrounds.

8Questions: Interview with an Old 8A Friend, Author of ‘Holistic Tarot’ and ‘The Tao of Craft’

2016.08.30 8Asians Joz and Akrypti

Our very own Akrypti has been quite busy since she went on a hiatus from covering APA social politics for 8Asians. She’s taken the tarot world by storm with her first book Holistic Tarot: An Integrative Approach to Using Tarot for Personal Growth back in 2015. Since its publication, Holistic Tarot became a bestseller in its category and has gone on to win four prominent book awards.

Now Akrypti—I mean Benebell—is coming out with her second book, one that circles back to her heritage and roots. The Tao of Craft: Fu Talismans and Casting Sigils in the Eastern Esoteric Tradition covers the history and cultural practice of Fu talismans, a form of sigil spell-casting, from its shamanic roots during the Xia, Shang, and Zhou Dynasties (roughly 2100 BC to 256 BC) and through its peaks in practice to the suppression and castigation of it during the Qing. More importantly, The Tao of Craft is arguably one of the first books published in the English language to cover the practical and instructional aspects of crafting Fu talismans and East Asian metaphysics, sorcery, and witchcraft.

2016.08.30 8Asians Holistic Tarot and Tao of Craft

At 600 pages, The Tao of Craft is a tome of a book. I sat down with my old friend Akrypti—again, I mean Benebell Wen—to talk about her second publication. The book will be out in stores September 27, but you can pre-order now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Penguin Random House, or through your favorite bookstore.

The Tao of Craft

JOZ: So we’ve been good friends and have known each other through 8Asians for over a decade. Yet it was only a few years ago that I learned you were into metaphysical practices. Can you tell me more about that?

BELL: I’ve been into that kind of thing as early as I can remember and read books on these topics as soon as I gained literacy. Prior to the publication of Holistic Tarot, you’re right, I didn’t talk about these interests with others, and post-publication of the tarot book, I was thrust out of the shadows and put in a situation where I had to talk about it to promote my new book. That happened before I was actually ready for it, so it was interesting.

The Tao of Craft, I feel, is relevant to the Asian American community, which is why I think I’m okay with the Akrypti and Benebell link now. It’s relevant not just because I cover esoteric Taoism from a Chinese historic and cultural perspective, but for another funny little reason. You don’t see many Asian Americans writing prominently about esoteric Taoism. By and large publications on this topic are by white men (or native Chinese people who co-author with, you guessed it, white men). Ceremonial magic generally, whether you’re referring to Western mystery traditions or Eastern, is dominated by white men. That in part motivated me to speak up and attempt to have my voice heard in such an arena. I’m also hoping The Tao of Craft will appeal to Asian Americans.

JOZ: Why do you think The Tao of Craft is important for the Asian American community?

BELL: I can only tell you why this book was important for me. It brought me closer to my ethnic and cultural roots. I gained an appreciation for the depth and breadth of Chinese spiritual history. In so many ways, understanding all that I’ve come to understand through the research and writing of The Tao of Craft, I’m even prouder now of my heritage than I was before. For me, there’s something activist about reclaiming long-neglected spiritual traditions. The book is a resource for Asian Americans who want to reconnect with those roots.

To get a taste of the book, check out this appendix, which is a summary of the history of Taoism that I touch upon in The Tao of Craft. You can read more excerpts from the book here.

JOZ: Why do you think Asian Americans, most of whom I presume are not practitioners of Taoist magic, would be interested in this book?

BELL: The bulk of the book is research. It’s about history. We start with Neolithic shamans and archeological findings of oracle bones in northern China and how that became integrated into the talismanic practices of Taoist priests. We touch upon the political activism of Taoist ceremonial magicians during the Yellow Turban Rebellion. Many of the Eight Immortals were historically documented figures that later became mythologized. The legends we grow up with about how the Chinese civilization was founded by the Yellow Emperor involve magical battles and spell-crafting. Magic and esotericism are intertwined with military strategy.

We look at several well-known Taoist magical lineages or mystery traditions and how they influenced Chinese history. Why are Buddhist and Taoist practices often intertwined? What are the origins of the Chinese lunar calendar? To me, the Chinese metaphysical principles of Qi, yin and yang, the Wu Xing, Ba Gua, He Tu and Lo Shu are provocative. As a Chinese/Taiwanese American, The Tao of Craft pays homage to where I come from. To realize that in the nucleus of who I am is this incredible history feels empowering. If for nothing else, this book should be interesting to Asian Americans for the research aspect.

JOZ: Are you afraid that linking your past work under Akrypti with what you’re trying to do now under Benebell Wen will somehow discredit one another? Do you think Asian Americans who resonate with your race politics militancy will be put off by your dabblings in the metaphysical world and fans of your metaphysical work will be put off by your race politics?

BELL: Yes, of course. And it’s bound to happen. The only thing that comforts me, even though it doesn’t really comfort me, is everything I’ve written, whether it was under Akrypti here at 8Asians or now through my books, is authentic and sincere to who I am. Also, those who decide one discredits the other aren’t being rational; they’re being emotional.

JOZ: So are you a full-time writer now?

BELL: No, I am still working as a lawyer full-time, though I’m at work on a third book already and will continue to research and write books on the side. I’m living out that tiger mom’s dream and also my own.

The Tao of Craft

 The Tao of Craft will be released September 27, 2016. You can pre-order now via Amazon.

The publisher is currently running a contest and you can win a free copy of the book before its release date. To enter, check out the details here. Deadline for the contest is September 16.

Hillary Clinton speaks at AAPI for Hillary Launch Event in San Gabriel

8A-2016-01-07-AAPIforHillaryHillary Clinton traveled to San Gabriel, California, on January 7, 2016, to launch Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) for Hillary.

Clinton joined Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Chairwoman Judy Chu and dozens of AAPI elected officials and community leaders from across the nation. Clinton discussed what’s at stake in this election for the AAPI community, and how she’ll fight for them as president.

Hillary Clinton began her remarks with a personal anecdote about what the San Gabriel Valley region means to her, sharing that her mother grew up in nearby Alhambra.

Other speakers and dignitaries included Norm Mineta, John Chiang, San Gabriel Mayor Jason Pu, actress Ming-Na Wen, Olympian Michelle Kwan, and more.

The launch of AAPI for Hillary kicks off a number of events and activities that will engage, energize and organize AAPI voters.

8Asians Exclusive: Dr Ken: Hot Doctor, Will Yun Lee (Sneak Peek)

Congratulations to Dr. Ken, as they received a full season pickup earlier this week.

This week’s new episode of Dr. Ken is an exciting one, featuring actor Will Yun Lee as Allison’s former boyfriend– now a very hot and successful doctor. Don’t miss it!

“Kevin O’Connell” – Ken is taken aback when he meets Allison’s former boyfriend Kevin O’Connell (guest star Will Yun Lee, “The Wolverine”), now a very hot and successful doctor. So when Ken is asked to speak at a banquet honoring Kevin, he uses the opportunity more as a roast. Meanwhile, Molly struggles with a school assignment asking for what she wants to be when she grows up, on “Dr. Ken,” FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23 (8:30-9:00 p.m., ET/PT) on the ABC Television Network.

“Dr. Ken” stars Ken Jeong as Dr. Ken, Suzy Nakamura as Allison, Tisha Campbell Martin as Damona, Jonathan Slavin as Clark, Kate Simses as Julie, Albert Tsai as Dave, Krista Marie Yu as Molly, and Dave Foley as Pat.

Guest cast: Will Yun Lee as Kevin O’Connell.

“Kevin O’Connell” was written by Paul Kaplan & Mark Torgove and directed by Mark Cendrowski. Executive producers are Mike Sikowitz, John Davis and John Fox. Ken Jeong and Mike O’Connell are co-executive producers. “Dr. Ken” is produced by Sony Pictures Television and ABC Studios.

“Dr. Ken” is broadcast in 720 Progressive (720P), ABC’s selected HDTV format, with 5.1 channel surround sound.

Clip published with permission, courtesy of ABC Digital

First clip from the Disney•Pixar short film “Sanjay’s Super Team”

8A-2015-10-16-SanjaysSuperTeamIn “Sanjay’s Super Team,” the new short film from Pixar Animation Studios to be released on November 25, 2015 as the short playing in front of The Good Dinosaur. Accomplished artist Sanjay Patel uses his own experience to tell the story of a young, first-generation Indian-American boy whose love for western pop culture comes into conflict with his father’s traditions.

8A-2015-10-16-SanjaysSuperTeam-logoSanjay is absorbed in the world of cartoons and comics, while his father tries to draw him into the traditions of his Hindu practice.

Tedium and reluctance quickly turn into an awe-inspiring adventure as the boy embarks on a journey he never imagined, returning with a new perspective that they can both embrace.

8Asians Exclusive: Fresh Off the Boat: Louis & Jessica’s wedding night (Sneak Peek)

8Asians Exclusive: Fresh Off the Boat: Louis & Jessica’s wedding night (Sneak Peek)As Season 2 of Fresh Off the Boat continues (see Mitchell’s reviews of Season 2: Episode 1 and Episode 2), 8Asians has an exclusive sneak peek for you from Episode 3, featuring a clip of a flashback to Louis and Jessica’s wedding night– at a car dealership.

Episode: “Shaquille O’Neal Motors” – It’s Louis and Jessica’s wedding anniversary and Louis plans a romantic evening out – to the car dealership. Meanwhile, Evan and his “friends” help Eddie buy The Hot Dogger, a hot dog-shaped water slide, on “Fresh Off the Boat,” TUESDAY, OCTOBER 6 (8:30-9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.

I can’t wait to see the full episode!

Clip published with permission, courtesy of ABC Digital