During the past decade, Hollywood has been under a lot of criticism for not featuring non-white actors on the big screen. And while some critics tended to take matters to extreme ends, the general idea that there has been a historical bias in Hollywood in favor of Caucasian actors when selecting leading roles for high-budget movies holds a lot of weight.
This criticism picked up steam during the last half-decade or so, culminating in the famed boycott of the Oscars in 2016.
A dominant majority of Hollywood movies released over the last century and a half completely neglected to represent, in any meaningful way, the experience of non-white citizens of Western countries. Asian and African actors were either kept away from the big screen altogether or were generally portrayed in stereotypical roles.
But over the past few years, Hollywood directors and production houses have responded to the criticism, and that too in a surprisingly positive way. And recent times have seen a series of movies released that accurately address the day to day of lives of Asian Americans who now make up a significant chunk of the American population.
From sci-fi movies to social dramas to even comedies, Asian Americans have come back to the big screen with a vengeance. And now that they have had the opportunity to showcase their talents these actors have put up stellar performances which have led to dozens of awards and nominations.
So, as a tribute to this change in Hollywood’s attitude towards Asian actors and the brilliant stars from the wider Asian diaspora, here is a list of binge-worthy Hollywood blockbusters which features amazing performances by Americans of Asian descent.
But before we jump onto our main topic, there is an extremely important point that must be pointed out. No matter how great a movie or an amazing a performance is, they become almost impossible to enjoy with a buffer circle constantly hovering over the screen.
So, before you start binge-watching, take some time to figure your internet situation out. If you are lucky enough to live near the coastal United States or other major urban centers of the country you probably have access to high-speed internet service providers like Spectrum Internet.
The provider offers download speeds of up to 300 Mbps, with no data caps making it perfect for binge-watching shows online.
So, what are you waiting for? Make the shift as soon as you can.
Now, that we have talked about the prerequisites, let’s jump onto our list.
EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE
To say that everything everywhere all at Once was an amazing movie would be a gross understatement. After all, there is a reason why the mind-bending thriller dominated every aspect of the last Academy Award.
A stellar performance by Michelle Yeoh and Key Hua Quan received the Academy Awards for best actress and best actor in a supporting role respectively. Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert also got to walk on the Oscar stage not once but twice to receive the Best Director and Best Picture awards. And Jamie Lee Curtis brought home the Academy Award for best supporting actress.
The massive success and critical acclaim for the movie could not be better deserved. For starters, the movie laid down an amazing science fiction concept by taking the concept of parallel realities and competing dimensions to its logical extreme.
While at the same time, the movie did not neglect to accurately represent the experience of Asian-American immigrants and their dedication to the American dream which has helped make and keep America great.
And last but not least the movie did not miss out on the key formula of entertainment, comedy. The blockbuster, despite exploring intellectually challenging themes, is choke full of quirks and jokes, making it a perfect family watch.
SHAN CHI – THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS
Shan Chi, the legend of the Ten Rings represented Marvel’s attempt at breaking into the Chinese market. But in doing so the super-hero-creating production giant won the hearts of thousands of Chinese Americans by giving them super-heroes they could relate to.
The blockbuster ended up making a little less than half a Billion Dollars on the charts and helped established a new Marvel franchise.
Without giving you too many spoilers, here is a brief look at the plot.
Shan Chi, the protagonist, and his sister Xialing are born to the Wenwo who is the leader of a secretive organization called the Ten Rings organization. The ruthless warlord trains his son to be a killer from his childhood and uses him for his nefarious designs since his childhood. Until finally Shan Chi cracks under the pressure and decides to flee to America.
But Shan Chi’s dream of a normal life is disrupted when his father reaches out to him and asks for his help to save Xialing who has apparently been taken captive. This is where the action-packed plot of the movie takes a fast-paced turn.
All in all, the movie offers huge amounts of high adrenaline action and special graphics that have come to define Marvel movies, making it a must-watch for people of all ages.
This South Korean classic, much like the first entry on the list, dominated the Academy Awards of its era. The social drama was able to bag five Academy awards including the prestigious Best Director and Best Picture awards in 2020.
Unlike the other two entries on the list, the movie has almost nothing to do with America and is completely set in the South Korean context. The social drama uses an almost fictional account of a family of housekeepers working for an affluent household to shed light on the glaring financial disparities plaguing Korean society.
But just because the movie revolves around a social theme does not mean it’s boring. Instead, the movie repeatedly deploys sarcasm and comic quips to deliver philosophical social commentary.
And lest we forget to mention, the plot of the movie is full of twists and turns that will make even the most astute movie watchers on their toes.
In recent times the American film industry has taken a turn toward a more positive direction by increasing both the representation and recognition of Asian actors on the big screen. As a result, the last half a decade has seen the release of several groundbreaking performances that are worth not just watching but also re-watching.