Jay Chou as Kato in 'The Green Hornet' (What? No Asian American Actors Left?)

August 25, 2009

What is most disappointing is that Kato would've been a great
vehicle for any number of Asian American actors. Though Chou has enough
screen presence (Curse of the Golden Flower), his comedic timing
(Initial D, Kung Fu Drunk) leaves much to be desired. Early pick
Stephen Chow, who has now declined the role, would've been fine; I
might have even defended the choice of someone like fellow C-pop star
Wang Lee Hom, who has both acting chops (Lust, Caution) and bilingual
fluency, having grown up in New York. But this just seems like
transparent grab at Asian box office revenue and a total waste of an
opportunity to propel a funny, talented Asian American into the

The Kato of this Green Hornet is a sharp, snappy
equal to Rogen's Britt Reid, a far cry from the
it's-funny-because-he's-kinda-foreign-and-goofy Jackie Chan roles in Shanghai Noon or the Rush Hour series. Was Columbia Pictures really
unable to find a single actor Stateside who could have played Kato?
With all of the whitewashed mainstream films, like 21 or Dragonball
or Airbender, or the casting of Asian actors in
others, like Lee Byung-Hun as Storm Shadow in G.I. Joe or Rain in Speed Racer -- you know, just to name a few -- could Hollywood really
not have afforded to throw us a bone? We could've had another Bruce
Lee. Now, we'll never know.




Be glad that the directors and producers are making an accurate Green Hornet film. At least this movie won't make me puke because a white guy replaced an Asian character. That's right, I'm pointing at movies like Dragonball and 21 (and in fact all of Hollywood's movies based on anything foreign).I mean really!The King of Fighters movie coming out has some white guy as Kyo Kusanagi!I support Jay Chou's role as Kato in the Green Hornet.
Jay Chou may be a typical Asian if you wanna classify him that way. But bear in mind, he's famous for a reason.
It's better if Jay Chou could focus on his musicHe is a talent in music, but not in acting.most of his fames were brought by his music achivements.He is spending much time doing something he's not good at. I don't think it's right decision. this could ruin the film, and meanwhile abstract his concentration in music.it makes more sense if he try to get into mainstream with his music.
I'm so annoyed, I have this feeling that this movie won't turn out as they have planned and I don't want this reputation to ruined Jay Chou's media. You know what the media likes, they will pick up anything bad about it and post it everywhere.Why couldn't they pick another actor. He does good in Asian movies but not English. It annoys me so much. If he can ace this then that will be good.
damn i am really liking what SIGH has to say. been curious about a native Asians view on the A-Am mindset.i have been trying for a long time to figure out why I saw an irony (and mild futility) in the Asian-American argument/complaints.and i think it may go back to the suffix in the term: -AMERICAN. most of the arguments still always come from an Americanized perspective, which is to say "My issue is an issue too! (and mine is slightly better than yours.)"SIGH called it out. Asian Americans are pissed when A-Ams are not cast for roles, but even MORE pissed when a native Asian is cast over an Asian-Am. this anger is second only to "yellowface" ala Mickey Rooney.@SIGH, I think you write very well. and very good job pointing out the British vs Asian accent bias, that there wouldn't be an article if it were a Brit.In the end we don't have to keep rehashing the argument or rolling our eyes, because we know exactly how industry works. JChao was selected for his international market appeal and lower martial arts skills. can't we leave it at that?
on the point about Asians consuming like whites:at the recent Union St Festival in San Francisco, a two day drunkfest that takes place in uber white Marina district, my quick glance of demographic as I ran through the entire strip was 80% white, 15% asian, and 5% dog.maybe we really are just trying to be like them. "Them." or have been conditioned by everything around us to like only what's around us, and not what's across the ocean where it's all Asian, all the time.we don't even know what Mecca is, we're so lost.w
I think the decision to cast Jay Chou is based solely on the potential international box office sales, rather than whether Jay Chou can act, or the potential reaction from the Asian American communities.
I fear that this is gonna be a very bad movie for Asian men. If these are the same guys who made Superbad, they are gonna probably use Kato as comedy relief, making those stereotypical Asian jokes that white people love to repeat over and over and over. I bet they didn't cast a more sophisticated Asian American actor simply because they didn't want one. This movie is just gonna strengthen the stereotype that Asian guys are kung fu fighting comedy relief.www.singleasianmale.comRef SAM
jay chou rocks!!!!!!he is the best.
Jay Chou is from Taiwan.
I'm having trouble deciding whether I'm more annoyed by people complaining about Hollywood ignoring Asians or Asian Americans complaining about Hollywood paying more attention to Asians from Asia.Somehow, to this Asian who is not American - the latter is a tad more annoying.(sees Reflective SAM's comment and does a double-take) Oh... so Asian Americans are more 'sophisticated' than plain ol' Asians, huh?I'll try to not show these article to my just Asian friends. As much as my currently irritated self would like get even (sorry, I'm only human), the last thing I want to do is to feed some poor soul's persecution complex.Actually, I can't decide whether some Asian Americans have a persecution complex or insecurity complex. Perhaps it's both.
I don't think Asian Americans have a problem with Asian actors. I think the problem is those of us who were born and raised in the U.S. would like to see more people like us in mainstream movies. The American public seems to be more familiar with Asian actors in Hollywood than Asian-American actors -- we just want to see more representation.
Ah... so Asians can't properly represent Asian Americans...?Fine, whatever. (eyeroll)***Btw, about Bruce Lee.He wasn't one of the 'more sophisticated' Asian Americans. He did not speak like a native American English speaker, he spoke English with a thick Chinese accent.He may have been born in the USA, but he was raised in Hong Kong. He wasn't happy with the roles the Americans gave him. It was Hong Kong who made him a star.He was one of us - not one of you. Do please try to keep that in mind, kthxbai.
@SIGH This is not about segregating people into "us" versus "them." The remarks in this post refer to the fact that Asian Americans are often overlooked to play leading roles. No one has insinuated that one particular group is somehow superior to the other in any way, shape or form.The other commenter, SAM, is likely referring to Hollywood's tendency to use Asians (and Asian Americans alike) as the gag of the joke, by portraying them as the Other: silly, foreign and unequal to their Western counterparts, the same as African Americans were once only portrayed as sambos or Jews were once only portrayed as villainous money-lenders (see: Shylock), instead of three-dimensional characters. This is where the accent comes into play. Racism and stereotyping are not a "persecution complex" - they constitute a real issue.If Jay Chou ends up delivering an ace performance, well then, great. But the casting for this was skewed, and in my mind, would be akin to casting Michael Cera as the next James Bond - a talented actor, but not the right one for the job.
Since you brought up Jews, I think perhaps you should research into how many Jews there are in Hollywood.People who complain about Hollywood being racist either do not know that Jews founded Hollywood or know that Jews run Hollywood.Also, this is not an us vs them issue? Really? Have you read your own article? You practically simplified it into Asian vs Asian American.Aside from Jay Chou, you apparently have similar problems with Lee Byung-hun and Rain. Does Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Chow Yun Fat also stir up resentment because they are not Asian American?I have to wonder... had Jay Chou been a British Asian, would you have written this article? How about a French Asian who speaks English with a French accent?I once, out of fun, decided to take that Cambridge online test which recommends which English course to take. I scored perfect and was recommended to take the highest English course.But, if you hear me speak English as I usually speak English - you'd probably label me as unsophisticated because of my non-Western accent.But, guess what - Asians can still understand me and think immediately - that I am one of them. There are far far more Asians who speak English with an Asian accent than Asians who sound like George Bush.If you really think that only Asians with American diction can represent Asian Americans properly, fine, whatever, but you better not complain when Asians diss Asian Americans for not sounding like Asians and for not being able to speak a single Asian language. You just look Asian.If Hollywood cast for a character who is Asian and grew up in Asia - they have to cast Asian, not Asian American. Unless, we're working in a call center and have to pretend to be not Asian - we do not sound like you.
This is a very good article and you hit the right points. As a Green Hornet fan I would like to respond to a few points and explain what I think is happening with this movie.>>>What is most disappointing is that Kato would've been a great vehicle for any number of Asian American actors.With the choice of a mega star like Jay Chou, they are looking to tap into the lucrative Southeast Asian market. On the US side they believe names like Rogen, Nicolas Cage, Cameron Diaz and Edward James Olmos will bring the crowd out and they did not need any more big name star to tap into the US market. The choice is driven by economy pure and simple.>>>We could've had another Bruce Lee. Now, we'll never know.To cast for the role of Kato, they had two choices. Either go with a martial artist who can act well or go with an actor with some martial arts skills. Ever since they chose Stephen Chow (before he bowed out of the movie) it was obvious that they want to go for the second choice which is to get a mega star actor with some martial arts skills. Bringing a real martial artist into this movie who can act and who can kick high would have upstaged the lead actor Seth Rogen and that is not what they wanted to do. Imagine if the word got out that the actor who played Kato did all his own stunts and fights, and Rogen had to depend on stunt doubles to do the action scenes. You may think that this is not important but it is. Every single time that a new action movie comes out you will hear the standard Hollywood line that "the lead actor did most of his own fights and stunts". It is a part of the marketing and believe it or not it is effective to draw some of the crowd into the movie theaters.>>> The Kato of this Green Hornet is a sharp, snappy equal to Rogen's Britt Reid, a far cry from the it's-funny-because-he's-kinda-foreign-and-goofy Jackie Chan roles in Shanghai Noon or the Rush Hour series.What we know so far is that this particular remake will have a comedy spin on it. How they integrate comedy into the movie remains to be seen. But if they go with the standard humor that you have seen from the lead actor in his other movies, then it should not be a surprise to see a lot of those "Rush Hour" moments in this movie. If that happens, it will be a big disappointment to everyone including Bruce Lee fans.The Green Hornet franchise has been around since 1930's as a serious crime fighting saga. Humor and comic relief was dispersed in the original Green Hornet radio show and the 1966 TV show starring Bruce Lee but it never took center stage. Bruce Lee made a huge impact on the show and elevated the role of Kato in the 1966 TV show. Although the TV show did not last long, it is because of Bruce Lee's association and contribution to the show that many still remember the Green hornet series today.
I don't see a problem with casting Jay Chou. What are you complaining about? What is the difference between an asian taiwanese and an asian american? Their accent, at most. So would it please you if they hire someone to do the voiceover for Kato? Besides, why do you wanna propel a funny, talented asian american into the mainstream? For all you know, this film could propel Jay Chou into the mainstream.Honestly speaking I am not a big fan of his movies (though I like his music and all) but I'm kinda excited for this film. It's his hollywood debut and I'm sure he'd put forward his best foot. Why don't you try viewing it more objectively instead. Whether or not he would be the stereotypical kungfu fighting asian remains to be seen. Sure there is a large possibility that he'd become comedy relief but if you think about it, would it be his fault? Or would it be because of the asian stereotype that hollywood loves? Even if it were an asian american, dare you say for sure he wouldn't turn out to be comedy relief?The problem now doesn't lie with Jay Chou, it lies with your prejudice against asian chinese.
i love jay chou!
From what I heard, the script was perfect for an Asian American to play Kato, with American-style non-deprecating humor and lines. I think they will modify the script for Jay Chou, who I think will be fine, but the problem about excluding Asian American actors still exists.It's all related to making money, and certain communities not supporting 'their own'. Blacks and other non-Asian minority groups support grassroots art/music/film in their communities, on top of buying and voting ethnocentrically, in a way that Asians and Asian Americans don't as a whole. Many Asian American actors/musicians/comedians have to make a living by pandering their art to paying White/Black audiences, because they aren't getting support from Asian Americans.The reason Hollywood whitewashes stories about Asian characters (like for 21 or Avatar), or remakes and copies Asian-made movies and replaces them with White actors (like for The Departed, The Ring, My Sassy Girl, upcoming Akira), or puts in international Asian stars in Hollywood movies (like Rain, Lee Byung-Hun, Jay Chou) at the exclusion of AA actors, is because they can make more money this way, and get away with it because Asians and Asian Americans still line up to pay without a fuss.Even though Asian Americans have as much purchasing power as Blacks in the United States, it doesn't mean anything to studios because Asian Americans don't act ethnocentric enough, or as Sung Kang once said in an interview, that agents have told him Hollywood market research knows Asian Americans "buy, think, act, eat, and dress like White people - there's no DEMAND for Asian Americans"... even from Asian Americans themselves on a mass scale. Hollywood knows if they put in a Hispanic or Black actor,that they get money from those communities. That isn't the case with Asians. Hollywood gets more money putting in a White actor, drawing in the White America demographic, and still get the same amount from Asian America and from Asia too. Conversely, they know White America is less likely to support a movie without a White lead. This is why Eminem and J.Timberlake are so successful doing what Black artists were doing for decades.Most movies in Asian theaters are Hollywood movies with White actors. Most movies in the US don't have any Asians. Both of these factors are related to the unfortunate reality that Asian and Asian American consumers are giving Hollywood just as much money, without demanding (communicated through their dollar spend) more Asian faces in film.If people started actually punishing and rewarding Hollywood, politicians, and beauty companies with money or votes based on if they had more Asian faces in them, it wouldn't be like it is today, where a disproportionately low percentage of Asian faces are found in entertainment, politics/power, and beauty images.
http://www.asiaarts.ucla.edu/article.asp?parentid=52373"The best advice I ever got was from a Jewish American agent, and he said, “Look Sung, I don't care what color you are. If you can make me money, you could be blue. It doesn't matter. You don't have to speak one word of English. If you can make money for us, you're going to be put into movies.” And a lot of people point fingers at the actors and say how could you take this role, but Asian Americans need to step back and take a look at themselves. Besides the educated filmgoer, the general public doesn't care about Asian Americans. They're not going to go out to buy a ticket because there are Asian American actors or an Asian American director. Paramount showed us this chart: Caucasians, African Americans, Hispanics. And we asked them, where's the yellow part? And they said there is none, because Asians consume like Caucasians. You guys buy, you dress, you read and you're educated like white people. There's no demand for it.When Better Luck Tomorrow was released, less than 5% of the ticket sales were from Asian Americans."
Jay Chou will do a good job in this movie.Just shut up and wait for the movie to come out.He'll prove you wrong.Duh.
Jay Chou is the bomb, watch Ju hua tai, faraway, and qing hua ci before you start hating....
I'm sure Jay Chou will do an awesome job...meanwhile let's cheer him up!
I think jay Chou is very talented and fully capable of this role. Didn't he memorize all of his Cantonese lines in "Initial D"? How is that different than memorizing English? I'm just happy for him that more people may be exposed to his talent and maybe bring more interest to Asian pop culture :) it's a good thing.
My comment earlier, as Elaine properly pointed out, is about Rogen and Evan Goldberg from Superbad. I am sure Jay Chou will do a fine job, but I worry that the writers may take advantage of him and make him a clown. If you guys haven't seen Superbad, please watch it, as it is a really crass piece. They can stoop very low with their comedy. I just hope they don't victimize Kato in the movie, that's all. As for what the author of this article says, I honestly don't care who plays the role.
I would have prefered Wang Lee Hom, they would have still gotten the star power to boot, and he would have had no trouble with the english...but have a feeling it's going to be one of those whitewashed asian stereotyped films (probably why stephen chow left the film) i'm seriously not looking forward to it.
I am sure he'll give his best and prove him the best among all. I Wish him luck.
This cast is a real motley crew of characters. And a lot of people aren't going to like some of the actors. Cameron Diaz and Jay Chou are the worst choices. Seth Rogen should be able to pull off playing an old school square as easily as a pothead slacker. And Nic Cage and Edward James Olmos should bring up the quallity of the acting performance. If the script takes a darker more violent style than the lame by todays standards TV show, it should be a good movie. Hopefully there's no hip hop music or a bunch of shoot out scenes were no one actually gets shot.
I don't understand this xenophobia directed at non-Asian Americans from Asian-Americans. It's like the Asian-Americans are saying, "Don't come to our country and steal our jobs and our women!" Oh, how the white overlords must be laughing!Elaine says, "Maybe [Chou's] gotten a tutor since then, but is someone with a limited grip on the language really going to be able to hold his own in verbal sparring matches with Seth Rogen?Rogen's a neanderthal whose grasp of English is, frankly, limited. Take him out of your mouth, Elaine. Please.
Since these guys are the ones who wrote Superbad, I'm kinda scared. I'm only watching it for Jay Chou though. Jay Chou likes to have fun with his work, so it might be kinda funny. I'm really excited for this movie since it's his first in America. As far as The Green Hornet movie, I think the original with Bruce Lee is the best. I'll be watching for Jay's talent and for his new learned speech. It'll sure be interesting.
我觉得有人说对,也有人说错了.明白了吗?(那我知道我的中文不太好.)我觉得杰伦是个非常好的人,他唱歌唱得非常好...我也知道他不是很红的演员,可是没关系.他知道怎么做一个电影!我也觉得他们要杰伦市kato因为他比较红...所以有很多人去电影院看green hornet. but that's ok, not for the fans maybe, but that's just business.我不知道如果我去看green hornet在电影院,可能不去.但是我真的喜欢跟他们一起做这个电影和认识杰伦!好的...