BETTER LUCK TOMOROW
The Simmering Id Beneath the Model Minority Image
Best Images of Hip Suburban Asian American Teens
Remember how lame high school was? In his debut film William Lin shows us how fun it might have been if we had dared unleash the dark impulses that stay fimly repressed by most Asian American teens. In BLT (2003) four Asian American teens ask the question: once you've mastered the 4.0 GPA, why not share the answers with classmates for profit? The sheer excitement of illicit enterprise — and the status that comes with a badass image in a suburban high school — drive them to move on to burglary and drug-dealing. They have such a blast that we want their joyride to continue even as they take on a job that escalates to murder. This is the movie that lets us fantasize about the road not taken, then feel cozy about the one we did take.
HAROLD & KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE
Road Trip Comedy Starring Asian American Guys
Best Stoner Farce
Remember how little mishaps always seem to multiply when you step out to satisfy a case of the munchies brought on by demon weed? Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004) will jog your memory. Harold (John Cho) is a strait-laced young investment banker. His roommate is an over-the-top party animal (Kal Penn) trying to put off med school. A fierce case of the munchies takes the pair on a zany nightlong quest for White Castle hamburgers. To enter munchie heaven, the pair must fend off Asian Ivy nerds, trailer trash hooligans, psycho cops, a pus-oozing hillbilly and a sex-crazed Neil Patrick Harris. And the shy Asian guy ends up with the hot chick to boot!
DRAGON: THE BRUCE LEE STORY
Big-Budget Production Highlighting Bruce Lee's Career
Best Action Biopic
Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993) is the movie left unmade by Bruce Lee. It attains a high gloss with production values never lavished on any of the movies starring the real Bruce Lee. What takes the film a notch or two beyond the average biopic is Jason Scott Lee. His virtuoso performance captures not only the legend's impulsive nature, emotional intensity and deepening resentment and rage toward white-controlled Hollywood, but also his physical beauty and martial arts prowess. Producer Raffaella DiLaurentiis got help from Lee's widow Linda in recreating the story of Bruce's early struggles and rise to stardom. The movie has become so beloved that among younger Asian Americans it has supplanted Enter the Dragon as the top Bruce Lee classic.
Bigoted-Chinese-Mother, Lesbian-Daughter Comedy
Best Social Satire
Most Asian American lives are lived on at least a couple of separate fronts. How else do you span the vast gulf between our family's old-world expectations and the new-world realities in which we live? In Saving Face (2004) a successful young Chinese American surgeon named Wil devotes much energy to hiding a lesbian love life from her widowed mother (Joan Chen). Keeping up that front becomes more difficult when her mother shows up on her doorstep pregnant. While scrambling to restore her mother's life to respectability, Wil is ambushed by the choice most of us struggle to put off indefinitely: keeping our life safely compartmentalized or tearing down those protective walls by sharing those awkward truths. Alice Wu's small production captures the humor and pathos that are fill our complicated dual lives.