YouTube’s YOMYOMF Network Will Change Your World

When this video got uploaded around 11pm on Sunday night, I don’t think anybody could have possibly expected how epic in scope this was actually going to be. What is possibly the first conscious venture of mainstream media fusing with new media, the YOMYOMF (which stands for You Offend Me You Offend My Family) channel promo boasts an impressive collection of talents from both worlds, including NigaHiga, KevJumba, Chester See, and mainstream stars like Jessica Alba, Harry Shum Jr., Wayne Brady, and so many more.

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Why are Asian American Films Bad?

Before I even wrote the April’s Fools article Joy Luck Ranked Greatest Asian American Film Of All Time, I have contemplated for the longest time creating a list for the Top 10 Worst Asian American films of all time. There’s always lists of the good Asian American films but no such thing as a bad one. The reasons for this is actually pretty obvious:

One, the mainstream hardly knows any Asian American films. Two, most Asian Americans don’t even watch these APA films. And if one does know these films, he or she is probably in connection to the said actors and film makers who made the films and in this small Asian American film community, it is not recommended to piss off your fellow Asian peers even if you want to point out a valid criticism. Trust me, our community can be incredibly touchy when it comes to anything but praise for our fellow countryman’s works.

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Josh Brolin Cast In Spike Lee’s Old Boy Redux

In the grand tradition of “let’s make an Asian movie American,” Spike Lee has decided that he needed to put Park Chan-wook’s masterpiece, Oldboy through the Hollywood Xerox machine. This week, they announced that Josh Brolin will be the lucky man to step into the shoes (and pick up the hammer) of the role originally played by Min-sik Choi.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Oldboy, the plot is simple: a guy is imprisoned in a hotel room for 15 years. He is released. He has four days to find out why the hell he was imprisoned or else bad things will happen — mainly to his daughter.

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How To Be a Bad Asian: It’s Not All About API Rights in Movies

Life is hard enough as an Asian. Not all of us can get perfect SAT scores, graduate from medical school or trick out a Honda Civic. The pressure to embrace our culture remains but sometimes, we just don’t want to. How To Be A Bad Asian is an ongoing series of personal essays by the 8Asians writers about what sets us apart from the API community, how we deal with the stereotypes that we put upon ourselves and why we all can’t be that perfect Asian. It’s time to be bad.

I don’t know about anyone else but the more I read about politics and activism, the more I have to laugh it up. People seem to view everything in one single filter and see the world through those lens. Not I. I can’t stand it. For example, there was a recent editorial piece on The Green Hornet that had Kato as a subordinate. Here’s the fault of this: historically speaking, Kato was a subordinate to the Green Hornet and don’t forget that he works for Britt Reid as his valet.

Would you complain about Lethal Weapon 3 where Jet Li is portrayed as a Triad member? Or maybe the Hong Kong movie industry isn’t helping matters when the hottest movies usually have either martial arts or the police vs. Triad genres. Are we just a bunch of short guys that pimp out Hondas and race them in the underground? Sure seems that way with The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.

The fallacy here is that most mainstream movies are not really meant for some sort of deeper meaning. It’s entertainment. You want movies that make you think about things, then go see more independent films. Even then, was the intent of the film to make a person think or just be entertained? While I’m all for the rights of Asian Americans, I think there is a time and place to take those glasses off and view the world in a more “shallow” type of field. Watch movies for their stories, listen to music for their beats, and just see life as it is, not how it should be. I believe stepping back sometimes will give you a much broader and relaxed view of the world instead of the laser sighted targeting of activism.

Giveaway: Win a 5-disc Martial Arts DVD Prize Pack; in honor of Ong Bak 3’s premiere on VOD, XBOX, Playstation & Amazon.com

Hey martial arts fans! Did you know that Ong Bak 3 premiered Friday December 3 on VOD, Amazon.com, Xbox Marketplace, Playstation Network? It also opens in theaters January 14, 2011. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read on…

Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior (Thai: องค์บาก), also known in the United States as “Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior” was a Thai action film from 2003 that was considered the breakout film of Tony Jaa. Because of Ong Bak, Jaa was hailed as the next international martial-arts star. Ong Bak 2: The Beginning set Jaa in an epic tale of revenge set hundreds of years in the past– featuring a huge cast and hordes of elephants and showcased him as a master of a wide range of martial arts styles.

Now, Jaa returns to screens in Ong Bak 3, the third and final installment of the action series. Picking up at the cliffhanger ending where Ong Bak 2 left off, Jaa ramps up the epic supernatural elements of the previous film, while still maintaining the trademark bone-crunching action that the series is known for. This time he must face his ultimate enemy: a fierce supernatural warrior named “Demon Crow,” played by fellow martial arts sensation Dan Chupong (Dynamite Warrior). Eagerly anticipated by martial arts aficionados for some time, the matchup of Jaa and Chupong is explosive.

Why not get a refresher course of all this by watching the Ong Bak Martial Arts DVD Prize Pack, which you can win right here on 8Asians!

The Ong Bak Martial Arts DVD Prize Pack features five titles:

In addition to the first two Ong Bak movies, a DVD of 2008 Thai action film Chocolate (Thai: ช็อคโกแลต), also known as Fury! (Chocolate was directed by Prachya Pinkaew and has martial arts choreography by Panna Rittikrai, the same pair who directed Tony Jaa in Ong-Bak.) Dynamite Warrior features Dan Chupong and Exiled is a Hong Kong action crime drama film. If you love martial arts and action films, you need to check these movies out!

Ong Bak 3 premiered Friday December 3 on VOD, Amazon.com, Xbox Marketplace, Playstation Network; opens in theaters January 14, 2011.

What you could win from 8Asians:
The Ong Bak Martial Arts DVD Prize Pack (5 DVDs):

How do you enter?
Simply leave a short comment stating why you want to be chosen as the winner for the Prize Pack.

How many winners will there be?
Just ONE lucky winner will be randomly selected.

Rules for entering:
1) Please be in the USA. Sorry, I will not be shipping anywhere else!
2) Contributors to 8Asians and their immediate family members are not eligible to win.

Prize courtesy of: 8Asians.

‘The People I’ve Slept With’ Opens in L.A. this Friday Night; Q&A with Filmmakers & Cast Hosted by jozjozjoz & 8Asians

We’ve been unabashed fans of the sex-comedy The People I’ve Slept With even before Koji joined our ranks, so it’s with great pleasure that we share the news that the film will be opening in Los Angeles this weekend (starting Friday, August 27th) at the Laemmle Sunset 5. (And if you’re not in L.A., Bay Area folks, it’s coming to you next!)

Yours truly, on behalf of 8Asians.com, will be hosting a special Q&A with the filmmakers and cast, following the 10pm show on Friday, August 27. The People I’ve Slept With is fun, funny, and features many, many crushworthy folks. If you missed the sold-out screening at the 2010 L.A. Asian Pacific Film Festival, then this is your chance to see it in the theatre and to meet some of the cast & filmmakers.

People Pictures is proud to announce the Los Angeles theatrical release of The People I’ve Slept With, directed by Quentin Lee (Ethan Mao, Shopping with Fangs) and written by Koji Steven Sakai. The film is self-distributed by People Pictures and will open exclusively August 27, 2010 at Laemmle Sunset 5 Theatres in Los Angeles.

“I am thrilled to be opening The People I’ve Slept With in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Sunset 5 Cinemas. It’s an indie filmmaker’s dream come true,” says director Quentin Lee. “With the film playing at both LA’s Fusion and the LA Asian Pacific Film Festivals this year, I feel Angelenos will enjoy and support the adventures of the film’s heroine.”

The People I’ve Slept With is a sexy, romantic story about Angela (Karin Anna Cheung of Better Luck Tomorrow), a young woman with a zealously active sex life, who after every sexual conquest, makes keepsake “baseball cards” of each of her male conquests. One day, Angela finds out she is pregnant and begins a quest to find the identity of her baby’s daddy. Together with her gay, best friend and co-worker Gabriel (Wilson Cruz of He’s Just Not That Into You, My So-Called Life), the two go on a comical and raunchy hunt through her past hook-ups and dates. But as Angela peels back the layers of her frisky past, she begins to realize that the answers she is looking for, reveal themselves in surprising ways.

Featuring a sparkling and daring performance by Karin Anna Cheung, The People I’ve Slept With co-stars Archie Kao (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation), Lynn Chen (Lakeview Terrace, Saving Face) and screen legend James Shigeta (Flower Drum Song, The Crimson Kimono). The film has found strong support with sold out festival screenings including San Francisco Int’l Asian American Film Festival and the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, along with being selected as the official Closing Night Presentation of the 2010 New York Asian American Film Festival. The film is set to open theatrically in Los Angeles at Laemmle Sunset 5, August 27, San Francisco at the VIZ CINEMAS, September 3, and in New York at Clearview Cinemas on August 13, 2010

You can buy your tickets online: Laemmle Sunset 5 (8000 Sunset Blvd. West Hollywood, 90046. 323-848-3500). See you there and come say hi!

Or if you can’t make it until Saturday night, then check out their 7:30pm screening with the Q&A hosted by Angry Asian Man’s, Phil Yu. After that, you can party with Angry Asian Man and Audrey Magazine at Libertine on Sunset, where Audrey will be hosting an intimate afterparty with the cast & crew.

‘The Expendables’ with Jet Li Tops Box Office With $35 Million

Jet Li stars in the new action-thriller The Expendables, which opened in the United States this weekend to become the number one box office hit. The film took in an estimated $35 million at theaters.

Audiences loved this story about a group of mercenaries known as “The Expendables.” Paying tribute to the blockbuster action films of the 1980s and early 1990s, and stars an array of action veterans from those decades. Written and directed by Sylvester Stallone, it stars Stallone, Jet Li, and Jason Statham with action stars Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, David Zayas, Terry Crews and Mickey Rourke.

The only life they’ve known is war. The only loyalty they have is to each other. Leader and mastermind Barney Ross (Stallone), former SAS blade expert Lee Christmas (Statham), hand-to-hand combat specialist Yin Yang (Li), long barrel weapons specialist Hale Caesar (Crews), demolitions expert Toll Road (Couture), and precision sniper Gunner Jensen (Lundgren). Living life in the fringes of the law, these hardened mercenaries take on what appears to be a routine assignment: a covert, CIA-funded operation to infiltrate the South American country of Vilena and overthrow its ruthless dictator General Garza (David Zayas). But when their job is revealed to be a suicide mission, the men are faced with a deadly choice, one that might redeem their souls…or destroy their brotherhood forever.

The Expendables is now playing everywhere in the US.

Did you see it and what did you think?

8Questions with Ken Watanabe: Actor who plays Saito, “The Tourist” in ‘Inception’

I was lucky enough to attend an early screening of Inception at the Arclight in Hollywood on Wednesday night. Like Dino-Ray, I enjoyed how thought-provoking the film was, and truth be told—two days later, I’m still reeling at how mind-blown I was by this film.

You really have to see the film for yourself to appreciate the brilliance of Christopher Nolan’s writing and direction, but without strong characters and actors to take the audience through the emotional journey, I think the story driving Inception might have easily lost in the amazing visuals as well as the overwhelming amount of chasing, shooting, fighting, and other action and suspense sequences. So for me, it was the strength of Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance, balanced with those of all the supporting characters– in particular the characters played by Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Cillian Murphy, Dileep Rao, and of course, Ken Watanabe that made the film so compelling.

Last Friday, Ken Watanabe was good enough to spare a few minutes on the phone with me for a quick chat about Inception, his own reaction after seeing the film, his thoughts about different audiences worldwide, and what he’ll be doing next.

Joz: You’ve had a long and notable career in Japan prior to your exposure to American audiences in ‘The Last Samurai’ and other English-language films. What are the main differences and similarities you find when you’re doing a film for an American (and international) audience, versus that of a Japanese audience?
Ken Watanabe: I couldn’t find [any] different perspective. To make a film just, I need to connect one audience, not [different] people. All people have the same feeling and same mind — a little bit different custom and culture and background and language, but same feelings, I think. I’m [an] Asian and Japanese actor so I want to try always [to balance]. [Like a] Japanese brush painting is [just] black and white [watercolor] — not oil — but still really sensitive [and shades in between]. Not yes or no, but just between good or bad, happy or sad… sensitive… between-gray area.
Continue reading “8Questions with Ken Watanabe: Actor who plays Saito, “The Tourist” in ‘Inception’”

On the Front Lines: Protesting The Last Airbender in Hollywood

By Ken

I grunted at Chris Tashima. I’ve known him for 20 years, long before he won the Academy Award for Best Live Short for his film Visas and Virtue. I adore the man, but all I could manage was a grunt.

Last Friday night at the Arclight Theatres in Hollywood, we protested against The Last Airbender, the latest in the trend of movies displacing APIs in favor of Caucasians. There, amongst several long-accomplished actors and community leaders, we lent our voice and visibility to a cause that we take extremely personal. But it’s a fight that we’re pissed we are still fighting.

20 years ago, the casting in Miss Saigon, their use of racist cosmetics and the content of the show incited us to protest the Broadway musical. For many of us, that coalescence of community was a turning point in our career focus. We also hoped that the image of our community would improve.

And so I grunted at my buddy at the Airbender protest, because it was, “Here we are again.”

No one can articulate it better than Eugene Franklin Wong, especially in his book, On Visual Media Racism. It should be a must read for any API in the arts. Every day I am more impressed with Mike and Dariane at Racebending.com, and so it is with humility that I address some of the counter arguments about why we are protesting. And I promise not to scream, “Just go to your college library and check out On Visual Media Racism!”

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Review: The Last Airbender is About as Good as People Say it is (Which is Bad)

Earth! Wind! Fire! Water! Heart!

No, that is not in reference to Captain Planet and the Planeteers, it is the foundation of M. Night Shyamalan’s latest cinematic venture, The Last Airbender – well, minus the “heart.” – and I say that literally and figuratively.

Based on the Nickelodeon cartoon of the same name, The Last Airbender is obviously about the last airbender. And what exactly is an “airbender?” Well, I am glad you asked.

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Daughter of the Late Pat Morita Protests Karate Kid Remake

Quentin Lee’s FilmHustler blog published a great interview with Aly Morita asking her thoughts behind her protest of the new Karate Kid movie that opens this weekend.

While Edward criticized Aly for passing judgment on a film she hasn’t seen, I believe Aly does a great job in expressing her thoughts and reasoning of why she does not support The Karate Kid. She says, “My issues are based from my point-of-view as an Asian American, and my stake is mostly Asian American. I feel that the remake is a blatant disregard of Asian American issues and concerns. The most obvious fact is that they interchange Kung Fu and Karate.” She also points out the flaws of the original film– including her struggles with the Mr. Miyagi character who her father portrayed– and says that the remake simply rehashes many of the same themes which were problematic with the original 1984 film. Much more poignantly, she gives us insights to her father’s acceptance of the role and how much influence Pat Morita had in creating Mr Miyagi as an icon.

[FilmHustler]: How did you feel about you dad’s success as Mr. Miyagi?
I was embarrassed by my dad playing Mr. Miyagi in the height of his 80s’ popularity. I was constantly having problems with it as my own identity politics grew. Eventually I was able to separate my struggle and my dad’s struggle.

My dad fought fought tooth and nail for that role. He struggled and struggled as an actor. After Happy Days, he got his own TV series developed but it got canceled. He went into depression and came from the bottom when Karate Kid happened. He was ready for it and knew he had to work hard for it.

The role of Mr. Miyagi could easily have been a two dimensional character. But it was really the chemistry between Ralph Macchio and my dad that made it so special. A lot of those one-liners and jokes were very much my dad’s. He poured his heart and soul into that role.

While it may be interesting to discuss and debate the flaws of the Mr Miyagi character 25 years later, what cannot be denied are a few points:

  • Pat Morita was an Asian American actor and the original Karate Kid made him a star in the true sense of the word, even garnering him an Oscar nomination for the role.
  • The Mr. Miyagi character was an Asian American– and even included aspects of Asian American history like being a decorated veteran of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
  • The success of the original Karate Kid was groundbreaking because an Asian American was the hero of a film, showing for the first time that a film with an Asian American lead actor and character could be not only a true blockbuster, but a beloved one, as well.

Though the inevitable comparisons between Pat Morita’s Mr. Miyagi and Jackie Chan’s Mr. Han will likely be about the character’s lines and teaching styles, I wonder how many people will remember that former is Asian AMERICAN and that the latter is (essentially) Asian. For those of us who identify as Asian American (and not Asian from Asia), this happens to be a big difference, but one that many will likely be  swept under the rug.

I don’t know how much traction her Facebook campaign to Boycott the Karate Kid Remake is going to garner, I admire Aly’s convictions and willingness to speak up and to share her personal reasoning for her stance. (For the record, I personally am NOT boycotting this film; I have not joined the above-mentioned FB page.)

Photo credit: FilmHustler

My Thoughts On The Karate Kid Remake

So as many of you know, The Karate Kid is opening this weekend. When this remake was first announced, I placed this film in what I call the “Hollywood Movies That Will Possibly Make Asians Look Bad or Not Have Asians At All As Main Characters” box, which also contained The Last Airbender, The Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Sex & The City 2, and the Red Dawn remake. These were films that I would be hard pressed to pay $12-15 for and even if word of mouth for these films were spectacular, I would rather go watch Glee or my roommate’s bunny eat the carpet floor.

But out of all the movies in my absurdly named box, I didn’t feel so strongly against The Karate Kid remake like I did for the others. I liked that Jaden Smith was playing the kid and Jackie Chan as the grizzled mentor because it meant two people of color were the main stars in a Hollywood movie. However, I would still be hesitant enough to actually pay to watch the remake, so it was something I would just check out on DVD or on TV, if I ever was that bored.

But last week on June 4th, CAPE (Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment) and Sony invited people to a special press screening for this film. The nifty thing was that the event was free and at the very least, I can watch the film to see for myself if this is yet another exercise in Hollywood Asian stereotypes.

About two hours later, I came out of the theater shockingly surprised by how much I enjoyed the movie.  Immediately, I became shocked at how I actually liked it. The two emotions battled each other for the rest of the night but eventually, I found myself enjoying the film because I was happy that it was one Hollywood movie that didn’t treat Jackie Chan as a joke. In this film, Chan shows off his serious acting chops in the portrayal of a deeply flawed yet noble character. At one point, one profound emotional moment with Jackie’s character absolutely floored me. I also enjoyed how Jaden Smith took his craft seriously, which not only made me believe he was a real kid but that he also worked his butt off to prepare for the martial arts segments. Most importantly, the chemistry between Jackie and Jaden was honest and genuine, giving this film a lot of heart that I otherwise wouldn’t expect.

Before I go into my final verdict for this film, I would like to address the many controversies with this film that I have heard from the APA community. I asked members of the community such as Aly Morita on what their concerns were for the film after noticing that the remake upset a lot of people. Aly is the daughter of Pat Morita (the original Mr. Miyagi) and is spearheading the protest to boycott The Karate Kid remake. From my conversation with her and with several others, I learned there were four major points why folks were not too happy with this remake (along with my own opinions on these concerns after watching the film).

Continue reading “My Thoughts On The Karate Kid Remake”