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 the Asian American experience. For a complete list of movies tagged, “Asian-American,” here is the IMDB List.
If you want more than movies, see my post, Resources for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and if you have more suggestions please add them to the APAHM Movie List on List.ly.
2014 UPDATE — Movies to Watch for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
ADDITION: Linsanity: The Movie (2013)
You can now watch Linsanity: The Movie on Netflix, so add it your queue right now. If you did not hear about Jeremy Lin and “Linsanity” during the 2012 NBA Season, you may have been hiding under a news rock. This is a great story that is about the Jeremy Lin, the basketball player, that is offered through the lens of an Asian American documentarian. It is not heavy-handed, but speaks some good truth and shows some great basketball.
HONORABLE MENTION: Delano Manongs: Forgotten Heroes of the United Farm Workers (2014)
2007 ORIGINAL LIST – Movies to Watch for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
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.
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.
- 1000 Pieces of God // Story of early Chinese Am experience;
- Harold and Kumar go to White Castle // Sophomoric, but not stereotypical;
- Eat a Bowl of Tea // Finally a happy movie!
- Mississippi Masala // Steamy 😉
- Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story // Asian American Icon
- The Replacement Killers // Because Chow Yun Fat is uber-cool, and yet another instance where some boys do NOT get the girl 🙁
Once again, if you want more than movies: books, music, etc see my post, Resources for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and if you have more movie suggestions please add them to the APAHM Movie List on List.ly.