i used to watch By Asian faces in everything I saw. I remember the ones who mattered, the ones who didn’t emasculate or shame me.
Harold was in Harold and Kumarhiro in HeroesTrini and Adam in Forest rangerand Liu Kang in Mortal Kombat. The way Princess Kitana looked into Liu’s eyes, not saying a word but talking a lot, is etched in my brain. For better or worse, that shaped how I thought true love was supposed to come about, like sneaking glances at an ancient martial arts tournament.
In another life, I would have felt the same for Bullet train. With a diverse cast of English-speaking actors including Hiroyuki Sanada and British-Japanese actor Andrew Koji sharing the screen with Brad Pitt, Bullet train would have been what Rush hour is now: sloppily offensive, loads of fun, and most of all, proof that Asian men can be cool.
but i’m not seeing Bullet train when I was nine years old, when I saw Chris Tucker in rush hour 2 He punches Jackie Chan during a fight because “you all look alike.” I am 30 years old and Bullet train It’s not from the late ’90s or early 2000s, when notions of who gets to be a Hollywood star and who doesn’t were always tested by who you see on screen.
Bullet train it’s far from the most offensive movie I’ve ever seen, if anything it’s too tame, but it feels worn and tired. In March, Jujutsu Kaisen 0 held its own at the US box office against the batman Then why Bullet train Do you think anime is nothing but cat pets?
But the most dated thing about the new film is how much it underplays and features its two biggest Asian stars.
Koji, who opens the film as a troubled father who commits a crime to protect his hospitalized son, hardly appears in either. bullet trains two trailers. Hiroyuki Sanada also has almost no marketing presence, getting a line in a trailer. His absence is not subtle.
Unless you’ve seen the individual character posters, you’re unlikely to think Bullet train actually stars any asian talent. Hollywood isn’t supposed to cast Asian leads because they’re not stars, but the truth is they’re not stars because Hollywood doesn’t cast Asian leads. How can audiences get excited about buying tickets to see Asian actors when their existence is barely acknowledged in a movie?
These days, trailers seem to matter less than they used to. Even Marvel is featuring them closer to the movie release than before. But promotion and packaging still dictate who matters in Hollywood. It’s not that Andrew Koji and Hiroyuki Sanada don’t deserve publicity. Both are in demand. Sanada, who started his career in Japan, has appeared in everything from Badger a avengers endgame a Western world. It is scheduled to appear on john wick 4 and a new FX adaptation of Shogun.
Koji, whose stardom is on the rise, is currently the face of HBO Max. Warrior. He acted alongside Henry Golding in Snake Eyes: GI Joe Originswhile his next two films, Seneca – On the creation of earthquakes Y kid kills world, you will see Koji working with John Malkovich and Bill Skarsgård. That’s not a resume to throw away.
In another life, I would have looked at Koji and Sanada in Bullet train with wonder and attachment. No, I’m not yakuza. I am also not a warrior fighting Shang Tsung, nor a time traveler, nor a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger (despite my childhood wishes). However, I’m a guy from New Jersey who has reached for cheeseburgers after smoking a doob, so maybe Harold and Kumar go to the white castle it’s the most authentic representation you could ever ask for. But that’s the beauty of movies: we’re allowed to see ourselves as more than we are.
Bullet train could have cemented Sanada and Koji as must-see, unmissable talent. After this weekend, that’s still possible; Bullet train is on track to win a box office without Marvel. But how many ticket holders get in Bullet train I know Koji and Sanada are in it, much less who they are, except “that guy in End of the game”?
Despite my problems with Bullet train, I felt indescribable relief when I realized that their symbolic Asian stars are not relegated to supporting roles. They are real characters whose actions and livelihoods are important to the action that unfolds. I wish I knew that when I walked in.
Bullet train it is now playing in theaters.