Jason Tobin of Better Luck Tomorrow stars in CHINK as serial killer Eddy Tsai. Photograph courtesy of Quentin Lee.
The yellow light of the underground parking lot drowns the whole scene in a stifling plasma, like you’re looking through the eyes of someone that can no longer see the vibrant colors of the world and drifts through it in a sort of monochromatic malaise. In a parked blood-red SUV, a scene is unfolding. Serial killer Eddy Tsai is engaged in his first kill, and after the struggle, his face and the innards of the car are splattered with freshly spilt blood.
I’m on the set of CHINK, the first film ever made centering around an Asian American serial killer. I arrive on site just in time for the first murder scene in the story. More after the jump.
Yung Directs Tobin. Photograph courtesy of Quentin Lee.
8Asians’ Koji Sakai, writer/co-producer of CHINK, goes through details of the character development and plot construction with me as the whole set is prepped for a new shot. The wardrobe director wraps a protective layer of padding on the slim actress who will be stabbed to death and then adjusts her silky blue blouse. The camera and monitor for viewing the shot are moved as lights are wrapped and slipped into place. Co-producer Quentin Lee is periodically snapping production shots while director/co-producer Stanley Yung moves from person to person, sometimes stepping back to survey the whole scene. They’ve got one shot at this bloody moment because afterwards it’s, well, all bloody.
Jason Tobin as serial killer Eddy Tsai in CHINK. Photograph courtesy of Quentin Lee.
Before they start, Koji introduces me to the star Jason Tobin who, despite being in the middle of playing a blood-thirsty serial killer, comes up to me with a really friendly and genuine smile. He greets me with a firm shake of the hand. Before I get a chance to tell him that I thought his performance as the scrappy younger brother of the gang in Better Luck Tomorrow was really great, he’s quickly called away to prep for the scene in the car and is immediately in character as the awkward self-hating Asian American who is blossoming into a full-fledged macabre legend in his own mind. He and the golden-haired female actor hop in the SUV and begin choreographing the murder scene from strike to struggle to finish. Finally, he pulls on the white mask molded sleekly to his face and does the deed.
When I first heard about the movie CHINK, I liked the idea of the story playing with the concept of the model minority. Often when you hear about serial killers, they are known to neighbors, acquaintances, and family as a really great guy or as normal as normal can be. Most of the time, nobody ever expected them to be a heartless sociopath kidnapping and murdering helpless and unsuspecting victims in the most bizarre and disturbing ways. So the M.O. of the serial killer fits rather well with that of the model minority. Just the idea of the movie fleshes out the lesson that relying on simplistic and stereotypical ways of viewing the world can really lead you into the lion’s den. And sometimes that lion can have the same last name as me *insert maniacal laugh*.