will definitely recognize Al Leong. He was the henchman Sgt. Riggs strangled
with his legs while he was administering electroshock torture in the original Lethal Weapon. That is a typical day at
the office for Leong. PBS’s National Film Society set out to pay tribute to Leong
and his fellow character actors with a web-series that turned into a festival
film. Prepare to show all due respect when Stephen Dypiangco & Patrick
Epino’s Awesome Asian Bad Guys (trailer here) screens during
the 2014 Asian American International Film Festival in New York.
video producers Dypiangco and Epino are on a mission to assemble an Expendables-like
team of Asian action movie heavies, who will finally have the chance to be the
good guys. They have two good reasons: they must protect Tamlyn Tomita (from
the Karate Kid 2) and prevent commercial actor Aaron Takahasi from trying to permanently
eliminate all his casting call competition.
cool thing about AABG is how it
deftly satirizes Hollywood’s Asian stereotyping while still lovingly honoring
actors like Leong and George Cheung (Rambo
II, Rush Hour) for making the best of a less than optimal job market. It is
also mind-blowing to hear Tomita plays somebody’s mom on Glee (is that show still on?). Naturally, she makes a great
damsel-in-distress and/or femme fatale.
However, there is just too much of Dypiangco
and Epino shticking it up as themselves. Frankly, there probably ought to be more
action and less comedy, because that is what an Al Leong fan would want to see.
Nevertheless, it is entertaining to watch the Awesome Asian Bad Guys finally
get a curtain call.
AABG clocks in just under an hour,
the AAIFF has paired it with a short featuring two fairly awesome bad guys. A
pair of Yakuza are driving deep into the Mojave Desert to bury a body in Robbie
Ikegami’s Pull Over to Kill. This
will be the final errand for Watanabe, the soon to be retired strawberry farmer,
but hot-headed Yasumoto is just starting out as a retainer. Needless to say
Viewers might predict the general trajectory of
this two-hander, but Ikegami and cinematographer Alan Vidali make it look
awfully stylish. Nor can anyone argue with Tatsuya Ito’s world weary
steeliness, as Watanabe. The use of Michiko Hamamura’s “Tabu” and Saori Yuki’s “Yoaki
No Scat” also vividly evoke the 1960’s vibe of many classic Yakuza pictures. In
fact, POTK could even serve as an
effective music video for them, inspiring post-screening downloads. It is a
satisfying short that nicely fits with AABG.
Recommended as a good festival package, Awesome
Asian Bad Guys and Pull Over to Kill screen
together tomorrow (7/25) at the Village East and Saturday at the Made in NY
Media Center, as part of this year’s AAIFF.
Labels: AAIFF '14, Al Leong, George Cheung, Short Films, Tamlyn Tomita