How To Be A Bad Asian: I Love Red Dawn

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.

As a screenwriter, I probably shouldn’t admit this but I LOVE the 1980s film Red Dawn starring Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Lea Thomason, Jennifer Grey, and C. Thomas Howell. It’s my favorite movie of all time. That’s not just hyperbole; it’s the truth! I try to watch it at least once a month, if not more! And any time anyone stays at my house, I make them watch it (that’s the price they pay for staying at my place instead of a hotel). On 9/11, I viewed it a couple times to help me get ready for World War III. Even though we weren’t invaded, I felt more prepared than most people. Wolverines! (If you don’t get that reference it means you haven’t seen the movie. I feel sorry for you.)

So when I heard that MGM was remaking Red Dawn I was super-duper excited. My favorite movie being remade with modern special effects and a big budget. I felt like my whole life was finally coming together.

But then I read somewhere online that in the new version China was going to replace Russia/Cuba as the bad guy. I cringed. They were going to make Asian people into two dimensional monsters and stoke fears of a future Chinese invasion. Being Japanese American, I inherently understand the effects and the consequences such fear can have on the American populace and knew this would set back the API movement at least ten years.

Don’t get me wrong, I still wanted to watch the movie. But I knew that my love for the film had to become secret or I’d lose my Asian American card.  I imagined myself going to the theater in a trench coat, sunglasses, and a low low hat. I knew I couldn’t tweet about it or even tell anyone that I’d paid money to see it – even my wife would look down at me.

Thankfully, it looks like the remake won’t be coming out so I don’t have to worry about it anymore. But I admit I was saddened by the news. I guess I’ll just have to keep watching the original Red Dawn and dream about another remake that hopefully doesn’t involve an Asian country. (If you’re reading this MGM, how about a European country? May I suggest France?)

Let me end this with my favorite Red Dawn quote.  “C’mon! We’re all going to die, die standing up!” (Okay, I admit that had nothing to do with anything but it’s awesome and probably the only time an 8Asians article will end so awesomely! By the way, did I mention how awesome Red Dawn was? It is, trust me.)

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About Koji Steven Sakai

Writer/Producer Koji Steven Sakai is the founder of Little Nalu Pictures LLC and the CEO of CHOPSO (, the first Asian English streaming video service. He has written five feature films that have been produced, including the indie hit, The People I’ve Slept With. He also produced three feature films, a one hour comedy special currently on Netflix, and Comedy InvAsian, a live and filmed series featuring the nation’s top Asian American comedians. Koji’s debut novel, Romeo & Juliet Vs. Zombies, was released in paperback in 2015 and in audiobook in 2016 and his graphic novel, 442, was released in 2017. In addition, he is currently an adjunct professor in screenwriting at International Technological University in San Jose.
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