Love or hate the "Fast and the Furious" films, personally, I didn't start to like them until the fifth movie, but there is no denying how nice this story is.
Variety recently wrote an article about Justin Lin, the man behind over half of the F&F franchise and other under-the-radar movies. He was someone who didn't completely change the scope of movies nor have a significant impact, but very carefully and was very subtle about bringing Asian-American actors to a better aspect of the story. They are now part of the team and they get the girl. They aren't weighed down by their heritage. They are three dimensional, have flaws, have weaknesses, have strengths and ultimately follow through.
It's very inspiring to read articles such as this. I may even be able to follow in his footsteps. I may even be able to work with him. Stories like this always give me hope that I truly have a fighting chance to be where I want to be if I can unleash my passion.
Read some of the highlights of the article below! Click on the pictures for the full story.
Lin was still enrolled at UCLA when the first “Fast and the Furious,” directed by Rob Cohen, hit theaters in 2001. He remembers excitedly going to see it, having recently learned about the subculture of illegal street racing from a documentary made by some fellow students. He was particularly intrigued by the preponderance of Asian-American drivers, who would race their heavily modified imports against American-made muscle cars in a show of ethnic pride. But he was disappointed that in the debut picture “the only Asian-Americans are the bad guys.”
The following documentary is a very important one for me. It deals with the image of Asian males in American cinema and television. They speak volumes about the portrayal of Asian men in the creative media whereas Asian women are exotic and more accepted into society.
Daniel Wu (an American-born, Hong Kong star) makes the argument about the diversity of L.A. and how much of the population IS Asian, so it's pretty weird that a lot of roles, that may be written as an open race or not, aren't given to even a good percentage of the Asian population of actors. Personally, I was lucky. I never had an image problem, because ever since a young age, I identified with Bruce Lee, and those of you who are true fans of him, know that there's more to him than just martial arts. He was charismatic. He was cool and a rebel, like James Dean, but also a philosopher. AAANNND, he could kick ass! He presented himself with a certain confidence that I am still trying to discover.
However many Asian men you see in action movies, this documentary tries to decipher why there aren't more in more three dimensional roles. Why aren't they more romantic leading men? Why are they good enough to be sidekicks? This is very important to me, because although I never had an image problem when it came to my ethnicity, I was raised very American and feel as if I identify with a number of different cultures. I can get along with everyone and not represent a single, specific trait. However, if the people who are in charge only see skin, then it worries me deeply and forces me to review my dream. I will fight though. I will fight for a place in cinema.
Lately, it seems that movies and TV have gotten more accepting of Asian males (Harold and Kumar, 21 and Over, Fast and Furious, Lost, Walking Dead), but I am not one to play a role that dwells on a certain racial aspect. I am someone who experiences angst the same as other youth in America. And I will fight for my place. The first step to not be pigeon-holed is to present this excellent documentary. Please give it a watch!
Big credit to writer/director Jeff Adachi!
The Slanted Screen - part 1
The Slanted Screen - part 2
The Slanted Screen - part 3
The Slanted Screen - part 4
E.J. is just a simple man who loves movies. Don't judge.