Arts 177

Published on October 22nd, 2006 | by Greg


Asian Stories (Book 3)

Do you take this woman to be your lawful wedded wife?

I do.

Do you promise to lead this man on, for five f***ing years, and then leave him two weeks before the wedding!

So starts Asian Stories Book III, with Jim Lee (played by James Kyson Lee – currently guest starring in Heroes) ad-libbing for the bride and groom figurines, while lying on the living room floor in his wedding tux. She takes his $10,000 wedding ring, his Xbox, and even his Depeche Mode CDs. He gets to keep the wedding champagne, which he seems to drink amply. In this champagne-induced, Depeche Mode-deprived state, he concocts a plan to do away with himself… by having his best friend promise to kill him by Valentine’s Day. They both head up to a cabin for the week, where he camps, meets a spamku-writing artist, and generally realizes that life might be worth living.

The production quality? Not big budget. The acting? I’ve never seen swear words said unconvincingly until this movie. The comedic timing? Dead on or not there. But this movie was worth watching. The cross-cultural bashing by itself provided enough laughs to last the movie. Nonetheless, they went the extra step and provided more than a few clever jokes and scenarios.

I was slightly disturbed by the portrayal of all caucasian Americans as hicks who don’t know a thing about Asia (especially since my major was Mandarin). But seriously, who under the age of 60 (that lived in California no less) would ask somebody if they spoke Oriental? I am pretty sure the only somewhat intelligent and culturally-aware white guy in the movie had no speaking lines and was bashed in the head with a skateboard right before his exit. And besides that he was an ass.

This isn’t to say I didn’t love the juju beads-wearing hippie asking Jim whether Jet Li or Jackie Chan would win in a fight, or that there wasn’t enough stereotyping to go around. I especially loved the repartee between the Nicaraguan and Vietnamese guys, each equally poking fun at the other’s culture. I’m just saying the small town hicks got it the hardest. Was it karmic retribution for the other well-known stereotype of all the white guys getting the Asian chicks? I’m not sure. It’s surprisingly one source of jokes they left out of the movie. Perhaps it was balance for years of two-dimensional Asian characters in the cinema. Or revenge for David Carradine starring in Kung Fu.

Of course, like every story of this type, there is a natural progression when faced with death. Jim Lee reflects on his past and realizes he’s made mistakes in how he approaches life, from not tipping and being cheap, to missing out on opportunities, to dating the wrong girls. He remains straight-laced throughout, but he is a sympathetic character and you can see him as being possibly worthy of the incredibly hot Korean artist (Kathy Uyen) he’s been lucky enough to snag. Ultimately it’s hard for me to believe that he was ever in that much pain to begin with, but this film isn’t about believability. Its campy nature and surprising humor make it a great movie to watch in a group.

This movie was part of the 26th Louis Vuitton Hawaii International Film Festival, which we will be covering for the next two weeks. The title is indicative that there may be prequels in the future.

About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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