10 Movies to Watch for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

In my continuing series – alright post #2 – of things to see/watch/read in on of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, here are some flicks that you should definitely add to your Queue.

Let me first say that the idea behind advocating for Asian American films, actors and film-makers is not to define who/what Asian America is, but to further express the historical and cultural complexity that is Asian American.  For a complete list of movies tagged, “Asian-American,” here is the IMDB List.

GO FOR BROKE (1951) 
This mainstream movie features the 442, an Asian American regiment during WWII.  A surprisingly careful portrait of this famous group of Asian Americans.

FLOWER DRUM SONG (1961)
Another early movie with some stereotypes, but for the time it gave
many an Asian American actors their starts.  Most of the fun is seeing
well known actors in their younger days.

DIM SUM (1985)
Classic and touching offering from Wayne Wang.

WHO KILLED VINCENT CHIN (1987)
Powerful documentary about a major tragedy in Asian American history, the trial of the killers of Vincent Chin.  Look for your local showing as the anniversary is coming up in June.

FORBIDDEN CITY USA (1989)
This is a GREAT documentary of the world famous SF club.  All the Asian performers are truly pioneers.  I can’t imagine what it must have been like to step so far out of cultural norms.

JOY LUCK CLUB (1993)
We can be cheesy too!  This ensemble cast is pretty Hollywood, but I dare any mother or daughter not to cry . . . not to mention the random drippy dad.  Great cast.

THE DEBUT (2000)
Okay, not the greatest movie ever made, but The Debut is a wonderful addition to the mainstream movie “that happens to take place in an Asian-American context” genre.  Filipino American in context, feels just like growing up.  Dances, playing B-Ball with headlights and crazy family!

CHARLOTTE SOMETIMES (2002)
Okay, I will admit that I didn’t really get it, but that is probably more about me than Eric Bylar.  Artsy modern piece shows the development of Asian American film making.

BETTER LUCK TOMORROW (2002)
When Model Minority meets the Spranos meets Heathers.  This Justin Lin flick is paving the way for mainstream Asian American actors and story lines.

FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT (2006)
So sue me, this is neither about Asian Americans or set in Asian America.  I have included this in my list because it DOES give some different glimpses – albeit shiny and sexual – of Asian Americana.  For all intents and purposes, this was made for an American audience, so it makes my list.  Plus Justin Lin gets his big studio backing on this and gets him cred for future projects.

HONORABLE MENTION

 

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