As the year is drawing to a close, the first anniversary of WWAM BAM! And our Where’s Wang column is drawing ever closer. It’s been a fascinating year of watching and re-watching movies, TV series and Youtube skits with a mission of deciding whether or not they fairly represent Asian males.
So in our WWAM Watchlist of 2017 we’re putting together a collection of movies which do star either AMWF couples or strong Asian leads, that we here at WWAM BAM! generally approve of, so you can spend your Christmas holidays bingeing on WWAM glory. Enjoy! And do feel free to add your suggestions in the comment section. Merry Christmas from your Where’s Wang columnist!
Sadly, only one season of this show ever made it onto our screens, but that one season I still recommend you watch. The My Fair Lady remake pokes fun at Baby Boomers and the Millenial generation and pairs up the hot and sexy Karen Gillan with the equally hot and sexy John Cho. Click here for an in-depth review of the show.
While I may not be a massive fan of the male lead for personal taste reasons, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is one of the few shows that goes for the WWAM/AMWF theme in an incredibly natural manner and also stars more than one Asian male. The story is interesting and the series peppered with some fun musical numbers. Have a look at a breakdown of the Asian males of the series here.
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries
In all fairness, there’s only actually two episodes in this whole series that feature a WWAM pairing, and you can read at length about the relationship dynamic in this column. But I still love the entire series, and recommend it for fellow crime nuts in look of a strong female lead and a bit of WWAM loving.
Bruce Lee (Related) Movies
Hope I am forgiven for lumping together a whole bunch of movies in this sub-category, it was a question of space and this post not running on forever. There is a wealth of material out there either starring Bruce Lee or biopics about his life that is fun to watch for anyone who adores a strong Asian male who incidentally in real life married a white woman at a time when it was still generally frowned upon. You can start by checking out his filmography to see why he is justifiably considered one of the biggest martial arts legends of all time.
If you’re keen to watch his WWAM relationship with his wife develop, check out “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story” (1993); but beware this movie has been HEAVILY dramatized and many facts about his life altered, including his having a sibling and his family background. An enjoyable movie yes, but to be taken with not just one grain of salt.
If you’d rather stick to the truth you can watch the documentary “I am Bruce Lee” (2012), where some really quite major celebrities express their admiration for the man and recognize the fact that as one of the female commentators puts it “he’s put balls on Chinese men”.
Finally, if you want to see what the Chinese side did with his story, check out “Bruce Lee, My Brother” (2010). The movie was storied, produced and narrated by Bruce Lee‘s real life younger brother Robert Lee, and while it still holds some dramatization, it is assumedly a bit more accurate than the fantastical “Dragon”.
Star Trek Franchise
If you enjoy one of the most classic scifi series of all time and are looking for some sexy Asian men, you’re definitely at the right address. Whether it’s the orginial series cast and crew with George Takei as Sulu, or the reboot with John Cho taking up the role, or indeed Harry Kim on the Voyager – there are plenty movies and series to be binged with while not entirely lead characters yet, handsome Asian men who are integral parts of the show.
The Green Hornet Remake (2011)
Okay, so this is not the most critically acclaimed super hero movie out there. Don’t expect it to blow your mind, however if like me you are a massive Jay Chou fan and really enjoy watching him and Seth Rogen screwing with each other in an attempt to win over Cameron Diaz plus yet another fun performance from good old baddy Christoph Waltz, then this is one for you.
This true story about Mahavir Singh Phogat (played by Aamir Khan) who went against the social norm and trained his two daughters to become world class wrestlers addresses gender relations in India and became unexpectedly popular in China as our own Felicity Miller discusses in this edition of Where’s Wang.
Shanghai Calling, starring Daniel Henney and Eliza Coupe, is not your average WWAM movie. There is a love story, and it is between a man of Asian heritage and a woman of Western, but while you’re watching, you start to ask yourself, who is actually more Asian? Find out more about this intercultural movie from our post on WWAM movie top picks.
The Edge of Seventeen
While the movie’s main coming-of-age story revolves around Hailee Steinfeld and her own struggles to fit in and accept herself, it’s Hayden Szeto who steals the movie, period. His character Erwin Kim is so funny and truly the most relatable one in the film. If you aren’t conviced yet, let Jocelyn provide you with 5 reasons to watch this film.
L’Amant/ The Lover
Based on the book by the same name by Marguerite Duras, The Lover is fascinating, sensual and tough to watch. It tells the story of a poor 15-year old French girl who in 1929 starts an affair with the 32-year old son of a wealthy Chinese business man in what was then French Indochina, now Vietnam – but is it for love or for money? Read more about this fascinating insight into colonial-era Southeast Asia in our group post listing our top WWAM movies.
Mao’s Last Dancer
Mao’s Last Dancer is a true story based on the autobiography of Li Cunxin. It was also a Runner Up at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival for the People’s Choice Award. It was part of our group post on fave WWAM movies, so find more info here.
Country Bumpkin MIL vs. The Foreign Daughter-In-Law
If you are looking for an Oscar contender, then this movie isn’t for you. However, if you are looking for a story that focuses on the cultural clashes between a foreign wife and her Chinese mother-in-law then this is perfect. This is another one of the WWAM movies faves, with a more in-depth intro here.
Youtube has enabled the English-speaking Asian community to self-direct content that is resonating with millions of people and simply cast off the shackles of a racist Hollywood.
If you want quick bite-sized clips accessible any time of day, Wong Fu productions are a must watch. Their skits such as “Kung Fooled”, “Just a Nice Guy” and Why is Santa Asian? have already garnered quite a few mentions in this column, but once more for good measure, go check out these funny, real, relatable and charming guys! Another favourite of mine is Ryan Higa, who at one point I believe held the title of most subscribed or viewed or searched for Youtuber (I can’t remember the exact title). His collab song “Nice Guys” will just get stuck in your head forever and ever, while some of his practical guides like “How to sing like your favourite artists” are always a fun distraction when you’re keen to procrastinate.
We hope this will give you ample fodder for your holiday watchlist. Any other suggestions from your side? We’d love to hear them, so we can start compiling next year’s watchlist!
“For the most part, what we see of Asian male sexuality is the assertion of a stronger Western virility at the expense of Asian masculinity. In short, the imagery takes Asian men lightly, as less-serious competitors for women, and less-competent fighters.” Sheridan Prasso, The Asian Mystique
The “Where’s Wang” tag allows us at WWAM BAM! to review how present this bias is within sitcoms and other TV shows having come out of the Hollywood machine (and other media) over the past few years, and review any media through an AMWF lens. It does often feel like a game of Where’s Waldo.