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Musings from the Edge of Forever

Note: This blog expresses only the opinions of the blog owner,
and does not represent the opinion of any organization or blog
that is associated with RONIN ON EMPTY.

Archive for the ‘Asian American Cinema’ Category

This Week’s Reviews

Yesterday, Kozo updated the main site, adding reviews he wrote for Lover’s Discourse, Marriage with a Liar and Reign of Assassins as well as Kevin Ma’s take on The Road Less Traveled. I contributed three reviews this week, and here’s a rundown of the films for any interested parties.

The Green Hornet (2011)

Green Hornet 01

Seth Rogen and Jay Chou in The Green Hornet

Despite a tortured production history and a non-traditional choice for its leading man, The Green Hornet turns out to be a welcome surprise, delivering an entertaining buddy comedy that successfully lampoons the superhero movie genre through a clever subversion of the conventional hero/sidekick dynamic. Stepping into shoes once filled by Bruce Lee, Taiwanese singer-actor Jay Chou shines in his Hollywood debut, taking the role of Kato and making it his own. To understand why I liked this movie — that’s getting panned left and right — you should read the review posted here.

Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974)

Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires

Peter Cushing explains why Twilight sucks in Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires

For its next-to-last horror film and the final entry in its prolific Dracula franchise, England-based Hammer Film Productions joined forces with Hong Kong’s Shaw Brothers Studio for one of the first cross-cultural, kung fu/horror mash-ups in cinema history. The result is a schlocky, largely goofy film made watchable not only by the welcome presence of the inimitable Peter Cushing and David Chiang, but also an intriguing subplot involving interracial love amidst a martial arts-infused vampire plague. Without a doubt, The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires is the very definition of a cult classic. For those unafraid of the vampire’s kiss, you can check out my full thoughts on the film here.

White on Rice (2009)

White on Rice

When Banana Met Monkey

A rare coming-of-age story in which the hero simply fails to come of age, White on Rice is a peculiar, largely unsatisfying film that occasionally milks laughs from its immigrant manchild protagonist, but delivers little else. If you’d like to learn more about why I didn’t like this movie, you can take a gander at my take on White on Rice  here.

Asian American Shorts

 Slant, Volume 01

 DVD Cover to Slant, Vol. 1

Kozo published another review of mine the other day, so I thought I’d talk a bit about it here.

While coming home from OU Medical Center awhile back, I stopped in Norman to find a place to eat. Across the street from the Chinese place I’d chosen was Hastings, a video/music/book/video game/comic store that I tend to frequent anytime I come back to Oklahoma. While browsing the “foreign film” shelves of the DVD section, I stumbled upon Slant, Volume 1, a collection of short films that aren’t foreign at all, as they’ve been created by a handful of Asian American filmmakers. It’s striking that an Asian American film collection gets shelved in “foreign film” section, but that’s a discussion for another time.

I had never heard of this anthology before (although I did recognize Kip Fulbeck’s contribution, as he screened Lilo and Me during a visit to UC Santa Cruz awhile back), but being the budding Asian Americanist that I am, I snapped up a copy for the low, low price of $1.00. From the official website, I culled this description:

The Best of Slant Vol 1 features a collection of short films culled from seven years of Aurora Picture Show’s annual Slant: Bold Asian American Images festival. The Slant festival annually showcases the best in emerging Asian American cinema. Since its start in 2000, Slant has screened an eclectic mix of films that explore a wide range of topics and genres such as the smashing of stereotypes, off-beat comedies, family stories, explorations of culture and identity, and universal themes like love, loss, the human condition.

Slant curator Melissa Hung is the founding editor of Hyphen, a magazine about Asian American culture. She is a frequent speaker on the topic of Asian American media and independent media. She lives in Oakland, California and works for the San Francisco WritersCorps, a creative writing program for urban youth.

Films in the Compilation include:

1. How to do the Asian Squat by Daniel Hsia
2. Lilo and Me by Kip Fulbeck
3. Maritess vs the Superfriends by Dino Ignacio
4. A Little Bit Different by Lynn Okimura
5. Profiles in Science by Wes Kim
6. I Pie (A Love Store) by Nobu Adilman
7. How to Make Kimchi According to My Kun-Uma by Samuel Kiehoon Lee
8. Slip of the Tongue by Karen Lum

You can check out my full review for here. I thought the better contributions made up for those that were simply lacking or just too quirky for their own damn good. For those of you curious about the anthology and perhaps unable to get your hands on it, check out Dino Ignacio and Rex Navarette’s contribution, Maritess vs. The Superfriends, one of the clear-cut gems of this eclectic collection.

More Trouble in Little China


 ***The following is a piece I wrote to introduce Big Trouble in Little China at a screening at UC Santa Cruz. I’ve slightly re-edited it for Hope you enjoy it. ***

The film I’d like to talk about today is the very epitome of a cult classic. John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China may have flamed out at the box office in 1986, but it eventually rose like a phoenix from the ashes on home video, cable, and DVD, garnering a fervent cult following. Twenty-three years later, there are a number of theories as to why it didn’t click with audiences at the time. Maybe it was bad publicity, maybe no publicity, or, as I would like to think, maybe it was simply a few light years ahead of everything else out there.

Even so, I think, in some respects, the movie could be considered a bit old-fashioned – and not just because it boasts the kind of rapid-fire line delivery you’d see in such Howard Hawks films as Bringing up Baby and His Girl Friday. No, it’s the genre. Big Trouble’s resemblance to a Western is neither accidental nor merely symptomatic of Carpenter’s own filmmaking tastes. Before Buckeroo Banzai director W.D. Richter was brought in for rewrites, the original screenplay by Gary Goldman and David Weinstein set the events of the film in the Old West. The original plot centered on a cowboy who drifts into San Francisco’s Chinatown, gets his beloved horse stolen, and finds himself fighting for his life in a mystical Chinatown underworld.

(more…) Copyright © 2002-2023 Ross Chen