Way back in my senior year of high school, my friends and I took full advantage of our senior year freedom to go see The Forbidden Kingdom in theaters several times. As far as we were concerned, The Forbidden Kingdom was the long-awaited team-up of Asian action stars Jackie Chan and Jet Li—it didn’t matter to us that the plot included some white guy as the main protagonist. In fact, we were pretty happy about it—we thought the white protagonist would make the movie much more attractive to Americans and thus make more money at the box office, thereby proving that Asians could sell movies. And to be fair, The Forbidden Kingdom did rank #1 at the box office in its opening weekend. But nearly a full decade later, it’s pretty apparent that The Forbidden Kingdom‘s flaws in 2008 are the same flaws that Hollywood still has today.
There are a lot of great movies coming out in the next few months. There’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, obviously, and Black Panther looks amazing, and then… there’s this one. Ferdinand, by Blue Sky Studios, is going to be coming out on the same day as The Last Jedi, and, just between you and me, I don’t think it’s going to do so well.
After hearing the news that James Cameron would be helming a film adaptation of Battle Angel Alita next year, I decided to take a dive into the series and see what the fuss was about. I’d never actually read it, but after 15 years of anime convention-going I was sure I’d heard the name before. And since I like to be an informed critic, and am already strapped in and ready to critique the movie (with its tragically predictable almost-Asian-less cast) I figured there was no harm in familiarizing myself with it for dragging’s sake.
Well, after reading all nine volumes of the series, I can confidently say that while I can explain the story, I have no idea what the fuck it is about.
One of my favorite movies when I was a kid was the 2003 Dreamworks movie Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas. It didn’t get great reviews and its plot was nothing to write home about, but I loved all the characters, the adventure, and the romance, and I wore out our little VHS tape and annoyed all my family members by watching it over and over. I even bought the video game (side note: wasn’t great, do not recommend). Then I went on to other movies and mostly forgot about Sinbad until I caught a glimpse of it while channel-flipping last month. Fascinated, I watched it all again from the beginning, and then did what I didn’t think about in 2003: I went to research it online. What I found was that Sinbad could have potentially been far more creative and representative than the version that we got.
Spoilers for Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas below.
For this installment of Throwback Thursdays, I decided to revisit Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)—the first installment in the Indiana Jones trilogy—since I didn’t realize how long rewatching the whole trilogy would take. The movie trilogy and the character of Indiana Jones were some of my formative influences as a child. I dreamed of unlocking the world’s mysteries and these movies showed an academic leading a glamorous life of adventure, hunting mysterious artifacts and overcoming difficulties using his knowledge and reasoning powers. However, watching Raiders of the Lost Ark as an adult rather requires that I turn my brain off if I want to actually enjoy it because of the number of glaring issues regarding racial and cultural representation, as well as gendered character tropes.
Spoilers for the movie below, obviously.
The final Defender in Marvel’s Netflix series, Danny Rand, premiered in his own series, Iron Fist, in March of this year. Danny is a martial artist who has the Iron Fist, or the ability to turn his fist glowy yellow and use it to punch through walls. Together with his new friend/love interest Colleen Wing and series fan favorites like Claire Temple, he takes on Madame Gao and the Hand. The Hand were the villains of Daredevil, the sole Marvel Netflix property that I did not finish because the grimdark racism of it was not my cup of tea. But Iron Fist promised to be at least tangentially about Asian culture and was sure to feature at least one Asian character in Colleen, so I decided to watch it anyway.
That was a mistake.
Iron Fist was an incredibly slow slog in which I wasted thirteen hours of my life on cultural appropriation, Asian erasure, manpain, and drugs, and I would not recommend it. But if you want a longer opinion, below are the five main reasons Iron Fist was not great. Spoilers for the entire series follow.
Good. God. I don’t know where to start with this. As soon as I heard about this I rushed to trade posts with Lady Geek Girl so that I could write about it. However, upon sitting down to do so, I realized that to write about it, I’d have to—ugh—actually watch the trailer.
If you know anything about me or this website, you can stand assured that I did not enjoy a second of it. This movie looks like it will be a disaster on every possible level, and on top of that, releasing it in the week after Iron Fist crashed and burned in no small part due to whitewashing complaints feels almost comically idiotic.