The last time we visited LA, we stayed at the lovely home of our friend Marcia and her screenwriter husband, Koji. There are two things that stand out to me most about that week-long trip: (1) it rained almost the entire time we were there, further adding credence to the theory that I bring bad weather with me wherever I go; and (2) being impressed — and a bit star-struck — by Koji’s latest project, The People I’ve Slept With.
My first reaction at watching the full-length movie that the guy sitting a mere 5 feet away from me had written: “Ohmigosh you know Ricky from ‘My So-Called Life’??!!!!???”
But once I calmed down, I managed to enjoy the movie — a lot. It was funny and refreshing, contained just enough feel-good moments to make it charmingly memorable, and most importantly — at least to me — it was vastly different from all the other movies that starred Asian-American actors and actresses.
No one had an Asian accent! The main character was anything but the “model minority” perpetuated by American society! It even featured some raunchy sex scenes!
I never told Koji to his face, but I was very proud of him and eagerly anticipated his next project.
Well, his next project is here. And it sounds fantastic:
A Chinese American boy grows up being called “chink” and “gook.” The kids at school make fun of him by pulling their eyes back, asking if he knows kung fu, and wanting to know what dogs taste like. He’s embarrassed by his immigrant parents’ heavy accents. After hitting puberty, he feels emasculated because depictions of Asian men in the media are condescending and asexual. Caucasian girls seem unattainable while Asian girls always seem to prefer white guys. He develops a sense of self-hatred for the color of his skin. However, his parents pressure him to be successful, so he always followed the rules and got good grades. Despite his emotional baggage, he graduated from college and got a good job.
A familiar concept, yes? But what if this man also happens to be a sociopath? What if he overcompensates for low self-esteem by believing that he’s superior to everyone around him? What if he idolizes serial killers like Ted Bundy? Everyone thinks of him as a “good” man. A polite man. A quiet man. But that’s just a mask for the maggots and parasites that crawl beneath the skin.
Unconventional? Yes. Controversial? Undoubtedly — just take a look at the title!
As the directorial debut of Stanley Yung, Chink is written by Koji Steven Sakai and produced by Stanley, Koji, and Quentin Lee. The film stars Jason Tobin (Better Luck Tomorrow and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift) and Eugenia Yuan (Memoirs of a Geisha and The Eye 2).
And it needs our help.
Because Chink isn’t your run of the mill Asian American movie, Hollywood establishments are reluctant to fund the film. As a result, the producers decided to turn directly to the community…
Through USA Projects, created by United States Artists to expand its mission of investing in America’s finest artists, the producers of Chink hope to raise at least $10,000.
All the of money raised will go directly toward the shooting of the film. Each donation above $25 will give you the opportunity to be involved, even if for a free copy of the DVD when the film is released. (A $2,500 donation will earn you the title of Executive Producer!)
What’s more, pledges are currently being matched 1 to 1 by Artists2Artists Fund….
And they’re tax-deductible!
(And yes, I will be making my own donation as soon as I receive this month’s blog ad revenues.)
For more information on the film and to find out how you can help, please visit http://www.usaprojects.org/project/chink
Won’t you help Eddie Tsai, the protagonist of the film, join the ranks of Patrick Bateman and Dexter Morgan?
I’m all for supporting Asian-American films and filmmakers, especially for content that challenges prevailing stereotypes of Asians today. And I’m sure that the director and writers are talented and creative people.
But I feel uneasy about the themes in this movie and also in “The People I’ve Slept With.” I watched the trailer and read some reviews of “The People I’ve Slept With.” Several reviews wrote that while the supporting cast is likeable, the promiscuous main character seems devoid of morals and hard to sympathize with a girl that seems to initially ignore the consequences of irresponsible unprotected sex. I would love to see a strong and respectable female Asian protagonist. She doesn’t necessarily have to perpetuate the “model minority” stereotypes, but it would be nice to see a female lead that’s respectable or inspiring or relatable..
The title “Chink” doesn’t offend me, and the beginning lines of the synopsis sounded interesting. But why does he have to be a sociopath? 🙁 I immediately thought of the VA Tech shootings, and might this movie just paint a one-dimensional caricature of the silent angry Asian male, even if they try to make him a “lovable” Dexter-ish sociopath?
I would love to support work that features Asian-American actors and deals with some relevant social issues.. And if the movie is simply meant for entertainment value or a few laughs, that’s fine too.. But can’t the characters be more.. likeable?
But I do hope the best for the makers of this up-and-coming film, and hope they prove me wrong!
Your wishes to see strong, respectable, and inspiring characters in AAPI cinema is certainly understandable, but I don’t think that either of the main characters in the movies mentioned are meant to be role models, and neither film is meant to be taken too seriously. 🙂 (“The People I’ve Slept With” is classified as a rom-com and “Chink” is supposed to be humorous and not too heavy.) As for the characters, I certainly found the protagonist in “The People I’ve Slept With” likable and even relatable on certain levels, and I’m pretty sure that Koji has written the protagonist in “Chink” to be so as well.
Wow this seems just like the Va Tech shooter!
Sounds just like what our (asian) boys need, a feel good boost:) will so totally recommend it to friends and family 😀
It’s about time Asian American cinemas allow Asian Americans to have more dimension.. good AND bad. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.