Jay Chou Marches on to Hollywood Stage

Korean sensation Rain is taking a second shot at Hollywood stardom, this time as the hero in his upcoming movie “Ninja Assassin”. So if South Korea can try, then why not Taiwan? Based on this thought, everyone in Taiwan’s hoping that Jay Chou’s supporting role in “The Green Hornet” can be the country’s first Hollywood sensation.

Male Stars Kicking Ass, Female Stars Stuck in Three Stereotypical Roles

Hollywood previously cast Asian stars for their ability to strike with their powerful fists, but now they’re seeing potential in Asian stars for their ability to strike it rich for them. But unfortunately, Asian stars in Hollywood are often typecast into stereotypical roles.

From Jackie Chan, Chow Yun-Fat, and Jet Li to the more recent Lee Byung-hun, Rain, and Jay Chow, male stars were guaranteed to do martial arts roles. Female stars, in comparison, were typically cast in three kinds of stereotypical roles: 1) frivolous beauties, 2) degenerate women (such as sluts, prostitutes, and women cast off by villains), and 3) women with ass-kicking abilities.

In the eyes of Americans, Asians all seem alike, and they therefore think that they can just throw in any Asian actor or actress to play a specific Asian nationality. So while Hong Kong superstar Chow Yun-Fat rarely displayed his unnecessary martial arts skills for his role in the movie “Anna and the King”, he did play as the King of Thailand.

Even if few appreciated the Asian culture found in films such as “The Last Samurai”, the two Japanese stars from that movie in particular, Ken Watanabe and Hiroyuki Sanada, were hampered by having to brandish blades. Despite their great acting prowess, the two of them were unable to really get their foot permanently in Hollywood. Therefore, as Asian stars continue to come to Hollywood with dreams of striking it rich, in the end, they end up returning back to Asia to go back to their roots and rejecting all that Hollywood had to offer.

Director Ang Lee: Asia’s First Real Success Story

No sooner does one wave of Asian stars fail in their attempts to break into Hollywood, a new wave comes riding in with odds stacked against their favor. Director Ang Lee is an exception to that rule, achieving things that his Asian colleagues were unable to do: 1) In “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, he was able to get Americans to watch a film with a rich Chinese flavor without either subtitles or dumbing it down, 2) in “Hulk”, he was able to operate a large movie production that was historically relegated to his Western counterparts, and 3) in “Brokeback Mountain”, he was able to produce a box office hit and capture many awards, all with a minuscule budget.

Ang Lee has repeatedly used his films to showcase different styles and issues, and with his success, one has only to ask, “If South Korea can try, why not Taiwan?” No one from Asia has done it before until Ang Lee. Let's see if Jay Chou can make it two in a row.

Note: Much of the contents of this story was translated from an article published today in The Liberty Times, a Taiwan-based news publication.

Source: The Liberty Times

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