BCB Movie Review: Revenge of the Green Dragons

Over the weekend I finally convinced myself to fork out $9.99 (highway robbery!) to watch Revenge of the Green Dragons on DirectTV, to follow-up on our Trailer Parkin’ post, and also because: AZNs. With mullets.

While the trailer looked promising, especially since it’s directed by Andrew Lau of the glorious Infernal Affairs… I found Revenge of the Green Dragons kinda meh…mixed with a little huh? and a healthy dose of blue balls (on my part).

Ergo, to this last point, the ROTGD trailer promised some steamy AZN-on-AZN rooftop sex scenes. Behold:

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 4.25.04 PMHowever, these scenes were absent in the actual film; instead we got some tepid, PG-rated fully-clothed kiddie smooches:

kissBOO I say, BOO! For WHY were the smex scenes taken out, leaving us with CRUMBS? Do they think AMERICA CAN’T HANDLE IT?!? Again, since every single ad for 21 & Over schticked up Justin Chon in a brassiere and teddy bear merkin, than I better damn well see him get it in in ROTGfrigginD. False advertising! Injustice!

ROTGD was also kind of a mess, messaging-wise. It seemed to attempt several bold statements on “illegal immigration”, racism, and the promise and hypocrisy of the American Dream, but I couldn’t quite figure out what those statements were. It was incoherent at best, and came off borderline anti-immigrant at worst: fear the invading, violent, money-crazed yellow hordes!

Madame snake head, who makes her riches off trafficking and exploiting Chinese immigrants, dramatically pronounces “It’s what this country’s built on…the American Dream!” A Chinese cop (played by MC Jin. Hell YAS) admonishes a white colleague for the fuzz’s disregard for brown lives (gee, so much has changed). “Also — fun fact! — did you know there are lots of Chinese languages, officer? Cantonese, Shanghainese, Fukienese…Hello? Are you listening to meeee…….” Jin should have just launched into “Learn Chinese” and then peeled off on the back of DMX’s bike screaming the Ruff Ryders Anthem (seriously, somebody hire me as a screenwriter). Similarly, the Green Dragons make a point to only kill each other — never Gwai-los — in order to fly under the enforcement radar (except the one time they smoke a white guy bitching out a restaurant owner about MSG in his food. Very satisfying).

At times, ROTGD came off as an exploitation flick, what with the slow-mo rape scene and beating the shit out of little kids in cringe-inducingly creative ways. It doesn’t leave much sympathy for any of the characters and makes every single Asian dude except the protagonist look like scum of the earth. But, I’m willing to overlook alla that cuz, matching  jackets!

There’s also some magnificently cornball lines like, “There’s a storm coming detective, I don’t know of any umbrella that’s gonna keep this city dry. Umbrella-ella-ella.” (Sike. But I wish).

However, there were some bright spots — Kevin Wu aka KevJumba of YouTube fame — surprisingly gave the strongest performance — with a close runner up to his perm-mullet, which deserves its own Oscar nom:

kevhairThe classic ‘do, seen on such folks as Tuan Anh, my uncle, and probably your uncle too. This hairstyle is a national treasure and should be counted amongst the greatest contributions immigrants have made to this country.

Other hair wins go to Leonard Wu as Chen I Chung, who is obviously a dead ringer for Down-Lo Mein from Notorious MSG. Yo D-Lo, bitch stole your look! Also, why aren’t you returning my DMs?!

Don't ask how long it took me to make this.

                                      Don’t even ask how much time I spent making this.

Finally, and most importantly, Harry Shum Jr. didn’t take his shirt off. Even once. I am VERY disappoint. I had to console myself by googling Tony Leung pics.

So, I don’t think ROTGD is a serious contender to dethrone Better Luck Tomorrow by any stretch, but it’s still pretty remarkable in terms of a plot that centers around an Asian American narrative and it’s all-Asian lead cast. Worth checking out for the tats n gats alone.

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Trailer Parkin’: Revenge of the Green Dragons

Sometimes AzN and CBruhs spend a whole day’s worth at work emailing each other back and forth about something random until we both realize we should probably just copy/paste and make it into a blog post. This, as you may have guessed, is one of those times. 

AZN: Did you see this? It looks awesome, but just like Revenge of the Nerds, I was wondering where the original film, The Green Dragons is? Never mind, that kinda sounds like a Chinese fast food chain.

CBRUHS: Wow, that movie could be huge; in terms of Asian repping. Like the next Better Luck Tomorrow. Or it could be really bad, but the fact the director is actually Asian gives me hope that the characters will be portrayed with humanity. Like Justin Chon won’t be wearing a bra and a teddy bear glued to his wiener. Or that kid from Glee will take off his shirt.

AZN: It’s gonna take a lot for me to hop back on the HK cinema train. To keep the analogy going, I’ve long since gotten on the plane and landed in Korea and am now firmly affixed at Seoul Station never to set foot back in HK. Was that clear enough?

CBRUHS: Maybe Scorcese exec producing this movie is his way of paying back the favor of ripping off Infernal Affairs? I hope he pays viewers the favor of making Harry Shum Jr. git nekkid.

1360749946_infernal-affairs-2002-33-gAZN: If I was Wai-Keung Lau and Martin Scorsese wins a GD oscar for MY movie idea and forgot to thank the Infernal Affairs team for sourcing him the original material, then the least he can do is EXECUTIVE produce my movie. Executive producing a movie is the equivalent of a “digital introduction” which is right up there with forwarding a PDF to someone in the work world. And did I say “source”? I meant stole cause every Bostonian I know thinks this was a homegrown Boston crime story and no one knows who Wai-Keung Lau is and what Infernal Affairs 1, 2, and definitely 3 are.

CBRUHS: The trailer kinda made me homesick for my old Chinatown neighborhood (altho this took place in Queens) and is serving up a touch of Notorious MSG realness. I’m a sucker for matching jackets, wifebeaters, and manperms. I once asked an ex-banger friend of mine if they were accepting interns. Wish I was playin’ but I’m not.

AZN: If this movie were made in the ’80s I might be a gangster right now. Instead, I had Dustin Nguyen playing a “Japanese” undercover cop. Worst case scenario this might make Asian American gangsters more known in the mainstream which means breaking down Asian American stereotypes right? Hello? Right? Don’t make me come in there looking for your Bank of A-Mattress.

CBRUHS: Affirmative. Here’s where I say something about throwing off the yoke of the Model Minority Myth and the imperative of broadening AAPI media representation. And Harry Shum Jr.’s chesticles.

revenge-of-the-green-dragons-slice-560x186AZN: I’m just super glad Justin Chon is surviving the Twilight series. If he gets an Oscar nom from this he would be getting rewarded, like Anna Kendrick, for recovering from their “Bella’s BFF crew” role for all three (or was it four?) Twilight films. A feat in itself.

CBRUHS: You know what’s also a feat? Mike Chang’s physique. Is his 12-pack — uh, I mean Revenge of the Green Dragons gonna be screening in 4D??

AZN: **ERROR* Undeliverable mail: Your message did not reach some or all of intended recipients and is being returned to sender.**

JT Takes Over Chinatown

FRESHLY back from an amazing Legends of the Summer concert at Candlestick featuring Jay”-“Z and Justin Timberlake, AzN is high as a kite and was looking forward to ANY news, video, audio, hair samples from the new new new King of Pop: JT. Alas, that’s when this video came out:

Since the video was shot at the Yankee Stadium leg of the tour and features NYC Chinatown in all of its Oriental glory, I decided to reserve judgement and allow Cbruhs to comment. What proceeds is a highly edited for content version of our brief email exchange because I didn’t want too many curse words and wanted to minimize the amount of unabashed JT MAN LOVE I show pretty much all the time.

AzN: Check out where the new JT video was filmed. Gonna just tweet it unless you wanted to add something like OH I LIVED AROUND THE CORNER!

Cbruhs: Gotta run some errands but will watch when i get back. UGH I hope this doesnt encourage more douchey hipster kids to come shit in chinatown as their cultural playground. Some of the old chinese-owned bars are now $15 cocktail places where white waitresses wear cheongsams and that NO CHINESE PPL go to or work at. It’s pretty disgusting

AzN: I’d be curious to see what you think. if it’s on a JT video, that means its beyond hipsterdom already.

Cbruhs: eh, looks like he’s in that overpriced hipster club i hate on doyers.  i think the vid still looks ridiculous…maybe most of all b/c “take back the night” is a well-known anti-rape campaign and foundation. i think overall it’s really not as terrible as a lot of other things i’ve seen (I’m looking at YOU dickbrains, DAY ABOVE GROUND) but still eyeroll-inducing b/c it’s the same ol’ exotification of chinatown/ethnic field trip stuff. especially how he walks through this “secret chinese passageway” where he knows everyone. yah right — out asian-ing the asians. at least he didn’t have some swooning asian girl on his arm (like that barftastic Heineken commercial). And to quoth my old roommate Char Char: “Oh GAAAAAWWWDDD”.

AzN: I saw the show last Friday and was disappointed there wasn’t much dancing on JT’s part and the dancing in this video looks pretty weird. Esp with these black and white shirts he keeps insisting on wearing…

Cbruhs: Totally, I thought his dancing was a bit underwhelming in this video too — it’s kinda funny when he’s trying to go all Fred Astaire on the like, 2 brokedown steps of the barbershop. Ha! There’s was probably some over-it Chinese dude waiting off to the side for JT to finish so he could open up shop and start the work day.  His shirt also makes my head hurt. JT’s hair, on the other hand, is laid like Murraaay’s.

AzN: I do however like how most of those storefronts are actually Vietnamese spots. VIETNAMTAKEOVER.

Cbruhs: If they really wanted to make an accurate day-in-the-life-of-doyers vid, they’d show an old dude in a wife beater on a cell phone with a cigarette dangling out of his mouth 86 a mangy chihuahua-sized rat by stomping it into a crack in the wall with his foot. Wearing SHOWER SHOES. true story. I witnessed it with my own eyeballs, as this man came to my rescue right after i saw the rat and screamed and scampered away like the soft ABC that i am. And this video would star Jin tha MC and Eddie Huang and yo gramma. Now that’s “Taking it Back”.

AzN: ANYWAYS, I should probably mention at this point that I already bought tickets to the newly added San Jose show that just came out this morning. OHLOOKISTHATLEVYTRANOVERTHERE?

Okay, Chris Brown: “Fine China”

So “Fine China” — the new single by Chris “Forever (Flared Nostrils)” Brown — dropped last week. Which apparently, involves him stealing off with a triad boss’s daughter and gallivanting through the underworlds of Chinatown — rather than delicately sipping Lipton while getting hollered at by Mo’Nique on VH1’s Charm School, as I had hoped.

Because being romantically involved with an Asian girl always entails breaking her shackles of Asian male oppression, Chris the Fist also beats up an entire tong of Asian dudes. Just watch:

Uh, okay gurl. And what in Mongolian Izaac Mizrahi for Target hell is Ling (?!?) wearing? Is she really getting in the car with him? Best wear some shoes you can run in, girl.

The Difficult Brown can dress like a twink ventriloquist newsie all he wants, but “it’s alright, I’m not dangerous” is just not convincing me. And I’m normally a big fan of dance-fighting, but we’re supposed to believe a gold bowtie-wearing agitated beaver can whoop a whole Chinatown gang without even using his teeth?

The only redeeming quality about this video is Ling’s poopface at the 0:32 mark. That really says it all.

UPDATE: OK, I lied. The other redeeming quality about this video is the Octopus move at the 3:47 mark. I’m obsessed with it and have been consistently practicing in front of the mirror and loved ones since this posting, so I can bust it out at the club this weekend with my cousins (see you at Tia Lou’s!).

ALSO, the song has annoyingly been stuck in my head for days, and I’m gonna blame that on the blatant MJ rip-offs. It’s like they just took ‘Billie Jean’, threw it into a derivative remix app for iPhone — and donezo.

 

Friday Fuckery: Chinatown/LES post-Sandy

So my flight into New York this week was cancelled, and with my old roommate also out of town, I don’t have a solid idea of what state our Chinatown building is in (except that there is definitely a freezer-full of sausage and shrimp lying in wait). Like much of the country, I’ve been obsessively monitoring the news and interwebs this whole week, trying to get a grasp of the scale of mayhem (or for those Uptown, lack thereof).

What has become painfully clear is that not only were some areas devastated beyond recognition (Staten Island, Breezy Point in Queens, Lower East Side, Coney Island), some have also been virtually ignored by authorities in the relief efforts. While it certainly hasn’t suffered the same structural damage and loss of life, one community that has experienced gross inequities in post-Sandy recovery includes — SURPRISE! — Chinatown.

While lower Manhattan has been without without power all week, Chinatown and the LES have also suffered water shutoffs in public housing, food shortages, and a huge vacuum of information from officials about just what the fuck to expect next. While people wait in endless lines for help, FEMA and city officials have for the most part been conspicuously absent.

Thank effing goodness for CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities, which has been the only organization to address the dire and immediate needs of the community. CAAAV became first responders by providing phone charging, in-language information, food, batteries, and mercifully — a system to check up on elders and the disabled in high rise buildings who are cold, hungry, and in the dark — stuck in their buildings without working elevators. Meanwhile, just next door, Wall Street has Xmas lights lit up in the streets.

As CAAAV leadership well understands, this isn’t the first time Chinatown has clearly not been a governmental priority for recovery efforts (9/11), and it likely won’t be the last. Thankfully, many volunteers have showed up to make donations and drop off supplies. Check out updates from CAAAV on relief efforts and needs here, and if you can’t go in person, please consider making a donation.

Let’s demonstrate to the people of Chinatown and LES that we care about them, even if Bloomberg and the NYC hypercapitalist, profit-driven agenda don’t seem to give two shits about immigrants and people of color, the working class, and New York’s most vulnerable residents.

Friday Fuckery: Chinatown “Gambling Raid”

photo by Michael Appleton for the NYT

The illustrious NYPD, in partnership with the equally humanitarian Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), recently raided a building in East Chinatown — which houses many hometown associations, shops, and even medicinal practitioners — in what they called a “crackdown on a hive of criminality”. Read the rather ridiculous details here.

Although they claim that the cash confiscated is proof that the laborers and retired workers mainly from Fujian province are linked to a Chinese criminal gang and part of “one of the largest illegal gambling operations uncovered in New York City’s recent history”, maybe these folks just like some down time between grueling jobs to play some social low-stakes games of mah jong, cards, and pool. Y’know, like Christmas at yo auntie’s house.

Some real shady, hardcore criminal activity right here. That Pau Pau is just LOADED with nickels.

In addition to confiscating mah jong tables, the authorities took a few thousand dollars from a safe and off of folks playing in one hometown association’s small office. They reason that cash found in this raid, along with similar raids, just goes to show that that illegal gambling is goin’ down. But among a population of immigrants who are often unbanked, get paid in cash, and may operate mutual assistance-type lending circles for those down on their luck, you’re not going to find a lot of checks and platinum cards. Which means that some of these folks may have just been carrying their day’s wages on them, which then got snatched up by the authorities as evidence of their criminality.

Authorities also raided the building because of “illegal medical care” (as if the http://sideeffectsofxarelto.org stuff is not enough):

In the recent raid, officials arrested two men in an office behind an unmarked door on the fourth floor. The men, Qiu Jiaxi, 67, and his son, Qiu Lu Hui, 38, were “examining and treating patients by injecting them with unknown substances and giving them a variety of unidentified pills,” the New York attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, said in a statement. They “lured unsuspecting patients into their office and put their greed before the health and safety of their victims.

Why does this read like a pulpy fiction from the ’40s featuring a jaundiced Chinaman with long queue and fingernails on the cover? THEY’RE COMING AFTER YOUR WHITE WOMEN NEXT!!

“The Qius were charged with unauthorized practice of a profession, a felony, and face up to four years in prison...but he said that he had studied acupuncture and Chinese traditional medicine in China and in New Jersey, and that his father had been trained in China. Both, he said, had excellent reputations in the New York diaspora as well as in Fujian Province…“Coming to see us is the only option for them,” he said. The Qius stopped practicing after their arrests but returned to their office. During the interview, a stream of patients stopped by, but the Qius apologized and turned them away.”

It’s called fucking Chinese medicine, dipshits! Folk remedies, homeopathy, alternative medicine…whatever you want to call it. While it may not be offered at Beth Israel, hippy white people pay a lot of money to study it in naturopathic school, so just chill out let these poor people without health insurance get the type of care they’ve consented to and have probably been familiar with their whole lives.

Unfortunately, federal officials are continuing to investigate these “gangs”, and the US attorney in Manhattan has sued for forfeiture of the building. While the leaseholder doesn’t believe there was any wrongdoing in the building, he still plans to clear out the hometown associations because of all the attention they’ve received from the authorities.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this is all a front to kick residents out and take over the building to build condos in what is fast becoming highly sought-after real estate. I can’t believe in this day and age, and in a city that prides itself on being the most diverse in the nation, stretched taxpayer dollars are going towards harassing old immigrants playing mahjong, confiscating their meager wages, and denying limited English speakers their traditional medicinal practices. You don’t see NYPD and ICE swooping in on old Jewish ladies in Forest Hills playing American Mahjong, or busting in on Wall Street types playing cards and betting on fantasy football in cigar rooms.

The NYT article is tepidly, diplomatically titled: “Chinatown Gambling Raid May Reveal Cultural Divide”. No shit. How about: “Dick Moves All Around, With Racial Fuckery At Its Finest”.

via NYT

The New New Chinatowns

For years I’ve been hearing folks talk about gentrifying Chinatowns. This is a real concern in Chinatowns like Oakland’s, where an underutilized BART station (Lake Merritt) is going through a community planning process that can potentially lead to some pretty high buildings, higher population and higher rents and Chinese folks hightailing out.

Oak-rand

Oak-rand

Now, I could spend this whole blog post writing about how to protect Chinatowns, but to be honest, what does that mean? Part of it means keeping rents low (rental protections), keeping Chinatowns for Chinese folks (street signs in Chinese) and making sure the local amenities appeal to Asian folks and not Audi-driving yuppie parents. But what happens when a business closes (Chinatown knickknacks, boba tea cafes, Chinese breakfast restaurants). What do you replace it with? Another Chinatown staple? A Starbucks with Chinese signage? Should we maintain the look, feel and economic pulse of Chinatowns? What if a family business that’s been running for 40 years suddenly closes and sells to 3rd generation Asian Americans? What if a business gets passed on, within the family, to a 2nd generation Chinese kid? What if a Korean American kid takes over a family Chinese restaurant and turns it in a fusion Chinese spot that’s voted one of the top ten new restaurants in the country like Mission Chinese in San Francisco? What if MC opened up in the heart of Chinatown SF? What would the local CBOs and Chinese Chamber say? So that’s the dilemma I’m proposing to you. What does it mean to be Chinatown: Geography? Tenure? The things you sell? And how Chinese do you have to be to be Chinatown: Full Chinese? Chinese American? ABC? Asian? Asian American? Vietnamese/Filipino/Korean American? 2nd/3rd/4th generation? Angel/Ellis Island Asian?

I don’t know the answer to all of this, but I do know that folks like me who hang out in Chinatowns like second homes need to be thinking about this shit cause our generation and younger need a PLAN. To start, I’d like to provide you a few examples of what Chinatowns might look like a few years from now, businesses I’m calling Chinatown 2.0 cause these aren’t your typical paper money shops. These are hybrid old school/new school uses, Asian American type businesses, or just hip (probably gentrifying) uses that we need to pay attention to before Chinatowns become ethnic Disneylands crossed with Portlandia: food trucks, secret dive bars, and two girls/two shirt stores everywhere. I’ll be including a gentrification meter rating between 1-10 that’ll predict how this business will affect the pushing out of Chinese folks from the premises (1 being 中文地狱 and 10 being American Apparel next door to a Anthropologie).

Li Po Lounge, San Francisco California. Made famous by the latest Anthony Bourdain Layover SF episode and Sweater Funk (a sweaty/grimy soul party every Sunday night). How legit is this place? Old school chinese bar up top with Tsing Tao bottles and the soul party downstairs. Gentrification Meter: 4 before Bourdain, 5 post-Bourdain. Its grimey and the hipsters are hidden downstairs.

San Francisco's Li Po Lounge

San Francisco's Li Po Lounge

Fortune Sound Club, Vancouver, British Columbia. I don’t know much about Van City other than I like everything about it. I especially know nothing about the City’s Chinatown if only cause I learned early on you gotta go south to Richmond to get a taste of real Chinese food. So I don’t know why there’s still a Chinatown in the City and who actually lives there. But that didn’t stop me from including the only real CLUB I’ve ever been to in a Chinatown (sorry Grand Star, which comes up next). Gentrification Meter: 6? On one hand, you got Saul Williams coming up in March at Fortune, but on the other hand, are there Chinese folks that actually live here? Any Vancouverites wanna fill me in?

Can you spot an Chinese folks in this crowd? Oh there's one! Two, three.... Three...

Grand Star Jazz Club, Los Angeles, California. So hip, Blacklava sells a shirt for this spot. New York tribute night be damned, this spot is so cool and confusing. On one hand, you have Britney making cameo appearances and on the other hand, step one foot outside and you’re a drunk walk away from a big bowl of steaming jook. Gentrify Meter: 7. Did I mention Britney Spears in the same sentence as jook in the previous sentence???

Still see a lot of Asian American folks here no matter what party is going on.

So what can you do? If you’re Chinese, open up a new business in Ctown, USA. Just be culturally sensitive and if you’re gonna sell food, it damn well better be good. And please, no more vinyl toy shops. The ones in San Jose JTown and Chinatown LA haven’t been customer magnets unless you want 12-yr old kids loitering and playing street fighter on your in-house Super Nintendo. I really wish I could have showed you some viable Chinatown retail businesses that fit this Chinatown 2.0 category, but I really don’t know any. Please send them our way if you do know!