Asian – American conflict in cinema

I admit that I watch more than I read.  I have also seen a lot though.  With regards to our recent discussion on the immigration and interaction of Asian culture in America, there are several films that come to mind that may help to illustrate these relationships.  I would not deem it fair to reference any film that directly was about martial arts or war, especially films about Vietnam, or Pearl Harbor and World War II.  There are some spoofs too that show how we perceived these cultures at the time.  There are films we labelled as classics in the 60s where the Asians depicted in the film were generalized and given exaggerated phyical features like slanted eyes and big teeth intended to amuse the audience.  It’s quite amazing what we accepted during these times as representation of cultures we didn’t respect.

A film I very much enjoyed was Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story.  I am a bit biased as a Bruce Lee fan, but there are great examples of how Chinese immigrants were treated even in California in the 60s and 70s.  It is not just how Americans would call them Japs (because their all the same, right?) and treat them as second class citizens, but even how their culture viewed us, the Gwielo, and how their people weren’t to mix in with us or to trust us.

Another film that showed the business world between the Japanese and the Americans of the 80s was ‘Rising Sun’ with Wesley Snipes and Sean Connery.  Though a thriller and muder mystery film, it also gives many classic examples of the Japanese culture in business and even explains some of our differences.  It also shows some of the American cultures that were very much admired by the Japanese and what they did to be part of them.

There are clearly many more and some that will explain these cultures more thoroughly, but these show some great modern day examples and are enjoyable films as well.  Caution, ‘Rising Sun’ is a bit racy with an early sex scene, but wow will you love the taiko drums.  Incredible.

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