What We Learned About Asian-American History In 'Ip Man 4'

This article is a continuation of "Are the Ip Man Movies 'Chinese Propaganda'?"

Please read the first article before continuing to read the one below, as they are interconnected.

Donnie Yen in Ip Man 4: The Finale

Note: This is Part 2 of our 7000+ word article analyzing the Ip Man movies, written by the Dynasty Team.

We are not paid by the Communist Party of China and we willingly wrote this blog for free in order to exercise our freedom of speech and to share our thoughts on Asian and Asian-American history.

Ip Man 4 (2019)

Donnie Yen as Ip Man in Ip Man 4 The Finale

At the time of the movie's release, many viewers came away confused at some of the parts and storylines of Ip Man 4, and thought that Ip Man 4 was an over-the-top action movie with an unrealistic storyline and cartoony villains.

It turns out it was much more than that, as we will explore, since Ip Man (and his star pupil Bruce Lee) were now on foreign soil, and the storyline sheds light on Bruce Lee's beginnings and his experiences in America.

This time around, everything the 'Ip Man' characters do in this movie didn't just represent Chinese / Asians back home anymore, but Chinese / Asian Americans (and history) as well.

Here is our analysis of the film's biggest themes, moments, and Asian-American history lessons to help better make sense of them for everyone.

Did Bruce Lee Demo Kung Fu in America?

Bruce Lee / Danny Chan Kung Fu Demo at Long Beach Karate Internationals Ip Man 4

Fact. Ip Man 4's opening sequence started with Bruce Lee's famous Kung Fu demonstration at the 1964 Long Beach California Karate International Championships.

This was significant for many reasons as we will explain below.

It was the first time Chinese Kung Fu was introduced to the western world, and Bruce Lee was the one to do it in such an emphatic manner that surely opened the eyes of (and upset) many people, Kung Fu or Karate practitioners alike.

Remember that at this point in time, the western world only knew about arts such as Karate, Taekwondo, and Judo (due to the assimilation of Japan and South Korea to the west).

Danny Chan as Bruce Lee in Ip Man 4

In reaction to his demo, Marines Karate Instructor Collin Frater (Chris Collins) called his Kung Fu demo "fake".

This was the sentiment at the time as other Karate practitioners immediately wanted to challenge this "cocky" guy named Bruce Lee and his mystical hokey pokey Kung Fu in a fight.

Bruce Lee's Significance As An Asian American Icon 

Danny Chan as Bruce Lee in Ip Man 4

Bruce Lee's special fight scene appearance seemed silly and goofy on the surface, yet it came at a time when Bruce Lee fans sorely missed his onscreen presence.

This was because Ip Man 4 came out fresh off the heels of the disastrous Bruce Lee portrayal in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, and before this, Bruce Lee was also subject to another character assassination in the awful Birth of the Dragon.

Without going into detail, the portrayal of Bruce Lee in that film was disrespectful to the real life Bruce Lee, who contributed greatly to not just Asian American representation, but to Kung Fu culture and action movies in general.

Bruce Lee's daughter Shannon Lee and Bruce Lee's real life friend and student Kareem Abdul-Jabbar came out to criticize Quentin Tarantino's portrayal and defend Bruce Lee's real life character.

Cliff Booth Brad Pitt vs. Bruce Lee in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Donnie Yen and the film producers were clever enough to undo Quentin Tarantino’s caricature portrayal of Bruce Lee by featuring Bruce Lee in his own fight scene in Ip Man 4 as a way to honour how he should truly be remembered in modern times - as a real Kung Fu master and not as some buffoon who got manhandled by a 100% fictional white character of Cliff Booth played by Brad Pitt.

Even if the "funny" scene was based on "Judo" Gene LeBell's real life interaction with Bruce Lee, portraying him in such a clown-like manner would roughly be the equivalent to portraying Muhammad Ali, a heroic icon for the African American community, as a dancing, jiving, monkey or slave in a "fictional" movie.

Did Hartman Really Try To Introduce Wing Chun To The US Military?

Van Ness Wu / Hartman Wu in Ip Man 4

Fact. Hartman Wu's (Van Ness Wu) character and storyline was actually based on the autobiographical account of real life US Marine Chris Collins (who ironically plays Colin Frater, the bad guy, in the movie).

In real life, Chris Collins wanted the Marines to incorporate Chinese Martial Arts, specifically Wing Chun Kung Fu, into the marines martial arts program. He was not successful at the time, and therefore he left to pursue training in martial arts in Hong Kong and the east.

Chinese Kung Fu Used As A Metaphor For Western Assimilation

Ip Man (Donnie Yen) vs. Colin Frater (Chris Collins)

To dive deeper, the openly racist / prejudiced military officers Barton Geddes (Scott Adkins) and Colin Frater (Chris Collins) thought that Chinese Kung Fu / Chinese Martial Arts was a bunch of 'hokey pokey' hogwash, and was only good for 'folding laundry' (a clever nod, if you will, to the late 1800's when early Chinese immigrants were regulated to working in traditionally feminine jobs such as washing clothes).

This was ironic, since these military officers used Japanese Karate in their martial arts program.

Karate was of course, of Japanese / Asian origin (and to go back further, was influenced by Chinese Fujian White Crane Kung Fu and the Okinawan / Ryukyuan martial arts), so it seemed that their racism towards Chinese in the movie did not make any sense.

This is where most viewers (and even film reviewers, bloggers, and professional film critics) got lost, due to the lack of historical and contextual knowledge of Asian and martial arts history.

Why Did The Bad Guys Use Karate?

Scott Adkins as Barton Geddes in Ip Man 4

Scott Adkins does a stellar job playing the over the top crazy bad guy Barton Geddes, no doubt modelled after the old school racist drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket.

In the 1960's (which matches closely with real life even today), Chinese Kung Fu was seen as "the other", and Chinese were "the enemy".

Because Chinese people at the time (and still) were not subjugated by the United States or any western country for that matter, thus, Chinese Kung Fu and Kung Fu culture itself have not yet been assimilated into western American society either.

Chinese Benevolent Association

 

This is also why old Chinese Kung Fu masters refused to teach foreigners at first, as memories of the Eight Nation Alliance, Boxer Rebellion, and Opium Wars still lingered.

Whereas Japan was fire bombed, nuclear bombed, and defeated at the hands of the United States, their subsequent culture and martial arts of Karate and Judo were absorbed into western culture and considered "American".

In an alternate reality, if China had been subjugated by the United States and Japan wasn't, then Japanese Karate could easily have been swapped with Chinese Kung Fu.

Karate would have been the 'hokey pokey' hogwash used by the mystical foreign enemy, and Kung Fu would already be considered "American martial arts".

Kung Fu As Asian Emasculation

Hartman Wu (Van Ness Wu)

Barton Geddes goes on to to emasculate Hartman Wu (Van Ness Wu) by telling him to go practice his Kung Fu on his "wooden girlfriend", implying he doesn't have a girlfriend and that Chinese Kung Fu was only practiced by non-masculine men, also interconnecting with the long storied history of Asian male emasculation in western media and movies.

This is punctuated at the end of the film when Hartman shouts out to Barton Geddes - "Look around you, we are the culture!" - meaning to tell him that without immigrants who contributed to and literally built American society (African slavery, Chinese coolie labour, etc.), America would not even have a culture of its own, as its modus operandi of survival is to take and absorb whatever it can get in order to assimilate other peoples cultures into its identity.

American Culture Itself Is A Constantly Moving Goal Post

American immigrants

At one point, the Germans, Irish, Italians, Jewish, and Blacks, etc. were not considered "American".

Then, in an attempt to racially segregate groups of people to make them fight each other, white Europeans were grouped into what was deemed "American", and only black people, Latinos, and Asians were not. Meanwhile, Native Indians (Indigenous Peoples) do not even have a voice.

Vanda Margraf as Yonah Wan

Today, Asians in America are still not considered "American", often being asked where they "really came from" or told to "go back to China", even though they have been living in the west since the 1800's (this was reflected in Yonah Wan's scene when she was racially bullied by her school mates, and noted that Americans don't belong in the west either, since the land was stolen from the Native Indian Indigenous Peoples).

Ultimately, Chinese Kung Fu culture in Ip Man 4 is also a metaphor for being the perpetual foreigner in the west - not trusted and not "proven" as useful or that it works, unless of course, you teach "us" to do it.

Did Ip Man Really Fight The US Military?

Ip Man (Donnie Yen) vs. Barton Geddes (Scott Adkins)

Fiction. This part of the story was purely made up for the movie in order to pit our heroes against the cartoonish baddies in a showdown.

Similar to Ip Man 1 and 2, what these fight scenes meant for the fans of the Kung Fu series are to show that Kung Fu can beat Karate, can beat western Boxing, and can match up with other martial arts styles (if you're as good as Ip Man, of course).

However, unlike the previous films like Ip Man 2 that was more just about Chinese nationalism, here in Ip Man 4, metaphorically speaking Kung Fu represented more than just the Chinese, but Asian Americans, and perhaps all immigrants fighting back against white supremacy.

The real life minority underdogs get a chance to be able to beat back their aggressors and political oppressors (in this case, Chinese versus the Japanese and the Americans, respectively), but on a larger scope, beat back white supremacy as a whole for all minorities.

If you have a problem with the fact that a Chinese man beat the baddies who are American in one particular movie, and ignore the fact that plenty of American movies show Americans beating basically everyone else, then maybe you need to check your own bias.

Was Wan Zong Hua Actually Wong Jack Man?

Wu Yue as Wan Zong Hua in Ip Man 4

Wu Yue plays Tai Chi Master Wan Zong Hua. Wan Zong Hua's Chinese name translates to "Everything Is Originated In China / Everything Has Chinese Origins" - which is an incredibly clever name for his character.

Wan Zong Hua is easily the most interesting and multilayered character in Ip Man 4 and deserves mentioning, because he is connected with the racism Bruce Lee himself faced at the hands of real life Chinese Kung Fu masters in America.

Wan Zong Hua is a racist Chinese Kung Fu master in the Chinese American community who disliked the idea of Bruce Lee teaching foreigners Chinese Kung Fu, and is basically the embodiment of Wong Jack Man in Bruce Lee's life in America.

In real life, Bruce Lee defeated Wong Jack Man in a challenge match, and thus was allowed to teach foreigners Kung Fu. In the movie, Ip Man is the one who accepts Wan Zong Hua's challenge and they fight to a tie.

Ip Man (Donnie Yen) vs. Wan Zong Hua (Wu Yue)

Wing Chun vs. Tai Chi showdown.

Wan Zong Hua isn't afraid to admit he is biased / prejudiced, yet, his disdain for foreigners stems from the fact that he has lived and experienced life in America as a Chinese ("you don't live here, you don't know what it's like" was his line), and he along with the Chinese community, and many other minority communities, has experienced first-hand the racist treatment they get in the west (one of the Chinatown masters referenced how his family worked in building the railroads but were never recognized for their contributions by the US government).

Despite his flaws, he is a leader for the Chinese community, and works to protect his fellow kin from harm, and tries to educate his daughter in Chinese Kung Fu and Chinese culture.

Wan Zong Hua (Wu Yue) vs. Barton Geddes (Scott Adkins)

Is he truly a despicable, hateful man, or is he simply protecting his family, his culture, and identity with a certain level of tribalism?

Much like Italian Mafia bosses in America who only hired other Italians into the family since they were the only ones with shared experiences / the ones they could trust at the time, is Wan Zong Hua really that bad, or was he a product of his time and environment?

"We Are All Chinese, We Must Help Each Other Out" - A Call For Pan-Asian Unity?

Donnie Yen Ip Man 4

Another interesting line to note in the movie is when the Chinatown Kung Fu masters were assaulted by Barton Geddes, Ip Man found them shelter in his student Bruce Lee's Kung Fu studio, whom the Chinatown masters initially had beef with because Bruce was teaching non-Chinese students Kung Fu.

Ip Man went on to state the line, "We are all Chinese, we must help each other out."

Donnie Yen Ip Man 4 We Are All Chinese

Depending on who you are, you may take offense to this line from a political / Sino-centric standpoint, as it can be interpreted as a Mainland China / Chinese government message that no matter if you are from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, etc. or even an overseas born Chinese - we are still all Chinese (from the same family).

However, if we were to interpret this in a positive manner, it begins to make a lot of sense.

Ip Man 4 We Must Help Each Other Out

Perhaps Ip Man recognizes that in a foreign land such as America, despite our differences as Chinese people from different nationalities and walks of life - we are ultimately the same family because of our shared language, heritage, culture and ancestry.

This is even truer of the Chinese Martial Arts community, as almost everyone in the Kung Fu world love to bash and hate on each other's Kung Fu style, even though they all study and practice Kung Fu.

This doesn't seem to be a coincidence as there is a Chinese sign that hangs above the Chinese Benevolent Association main room that says "All Chinese Are One Family".

Barton Geddes hunts down Chinese Kung Fu masters in Chinatown

This happens to be a very significant message to all Chinese globally especially during a time when the west is playing political games and using divide and conquer tactics to spread Sinophobic hate amongst neighbouring Chinese / Asian nations against mainland China.

It is no surprise that a united Chinese community globally is something that the west wouldn't like, as it would make Chinese people harder to be bullied or manipulated as easily.

To take it another step further, it notes that in a foreign land, it doesn't matter what kind of Asian (Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai etc.) you are, because westerners just see Asians as one giant group of people, can't tell Asians apart, and treat them all the same anyways.

Warrior TV series by Bruce Lee, Shannon Lee, Justin Lin, Jonathan Tropper

Cinemax TV series "Warrior" tackles America's racist history with a story and characters based off of the writings of Bruce Lee. What happened then, didn't seem so different from what's happening now.

This is clearly evident even in recent times since the beginning of 2020, where there have been an extreme surge of anti-Asian hate crimes in the western / "Anglosphere" countries, most notably in Canada and the United States.

Asians are being harassed and attacked left and right due to the western mainstream media machine blaming China for the COVID-19 pandemic.

This isn't much different from how the Chinese were treated in, or since, the 1800's.

Case in point, Vincent Chin, a Chinese man was bludgeoned and killed by two white American auto workers during the 1980's when they were lashing out at the rising Japanese auto industry taking over their jobs. They didn't care that Vincent Chin was Chinese, not Japanese.

Barton Geddes / Scott Adkins in Ip Man 4

In Colin Frater / Barton Geddes' case, whose characters represent American racism, they wouldn't suddenly "stop" being racist if they found out they were fighting against a Korean man, or a Thai man, etc. - as exemplified by Barton Geddes' line "I hate cowardly coloureds" - the system of white supremacy operates in the manner that anyone who isn't white or white-passing is discriminated against anyways.

The fact of the matter is, Asian Americans separating themselves between "what nationality / ethnicity of Asian I am" doesn't make a difference in the eyes of a hateful bigot or racist.

Perhaps the filmmakers understood this fact as well, and it was a message to the Asian diaspora community that they are better off uniting together and helping each other out rather than bickering and fighting amongst themselves.

It seems people are starting to understand this idea now, as the #StopAsianHate and #StopAAPIHate movements were created in 2021 to raise awareness / combat anti-Asian racism and hate crimes.

Why Chinese Kung Fu Movies Are Necessary (Even If You May Not Like Or Relate With Them)

Ip Man 4 teaches his son Wing Chun

Ultimately, no matter how implausible the storylines seem, or how cartoonish the villains are, Chinese Kung Fu movies are very much inspirational "superhero" films primarily made for Chinese people, by Chinese people.

Bruce Lee fought a room full of Japanese martial artists, Jet Li beat up foreign imperialists in Huo Yuan Jia (Fearless) and dozens of corrupt French cops in Kiss of the Dragon, and Donnie Yen chain punched every guy he ever faced off with in the Ip Man movies.

Because of this fact, you just might not relate with them very much if you aren't Chinese, and even if you were, you still need to be a fan of Kung Fu / martial arts movies to enjoy (and appreciate) them fully.

Ip Man (Donnie Yen) fights Colin Frater (Chris Collins)

The role the Ip Man movies play in Kung Fu / pop culture as well as many other Hong Kong action films are to celebrate these martial artists who existed in Asian history and to show their skills on screen.

To take that a step further, they represent Chinese pride and dignity in historically turbulent times when the country of China was in shambles due to foreign imperialism and colonization.

To the Chinese people, larger than life depictions of historical characters such as Ip Man act as heroic figures that represent the best of Chinese people and culture, and is something for the people to cheer for, relate to when they have no other hero to hang onto, and remember them and honour them by. 

Chow Yun Fat in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

Chow Yun Fat as Li Mu Bai in Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which introduced the genre of wuxia (Chinese Martial Arts Fantasy) films to the world. In Wuxia films, Kung Fu characters can often fly and use mystical magical powers.

Do these movies sometimes overdo it with Wire-Fu stunts and physics defying choreography? Of course, they are movies.

But are American movies also not over the top with Iron Man flying into space and Captain America dodging bullets? Of course, they are movies.

At the end of the day, these Kung Fu stories are mostly all fantasy yet carry important dramatic themes that reflect human conditions and lessons we can share with each other and pass to our children.

Lessons Learned

Ip Man with wife

At the end of each movie, Ip Man and the filmmakers remind the viewer of the lessons he's learned:

  1. Ip Man 1 - Chinese Kung Fu / Martial Arts and culture teaches that we practice our martial arts and use them benevolently (in response to Japanese military aggression).
  2. Ip Man 2 - In competing with one another and sharing our martial arts, we hope to gain a better understanding of each other's cultures and gain mutual respect.
  3. Ip Man 3 - It is better to spend time with your loved ones than worry about rivalries and fighting, for in the end, your loved ones are all you have (in response to the death of his wife).
  4. Ip Man 4 - The most important thing in life is to have self confidence and self esteem (teaching his son to stay strong in response to racism and general hardships in life).

Is Ip Man Still Propaganda?

Donnie Yen as Ip Man

Your reaction to the Ip Man movies largely vary on how you feel about historical movies in general. Are you a patriotic person? You might love Ip Man. Are you a patriotic person on the other side of the fence? Then you might despise Ip Man.

In order to consider whether Ip Man, the movie storylines, or even Donnie Yen's political views as an actor have anything to do with "Chinese propaganda", we need to ask ourselves what we truly regard as "propaganda".

China's film censorship laws require that all movies carry out a certain storyline theme, that the good guys win, no glorification of evil deeds or corruption are allowed, and the bad guys must lose if they oppose China / Chinese people or interests.

Of course, this limits added layers of complexity or nuance in terms of storytelling.

However, are these movies any different than your average Hollywood / American blockbuster?

Furthermore, are we really expecting blockbuster Kung Fu action movies such as Ip Man to be judged in the same vein as high art?

Hypocritical Judgement

Marvel Cinematic Universe The Avengers

Western / American heroes saving the world, time and time again.

Are Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero movies, Rambo movies, Saving Private Ryan, Clint Eastwood movies, Olympus Has Fallen, Red Dawn, and other white-centric / western-centric historical / war / hero movies (sometimes completely fictional), considered western propaganda to you?

If you answered no, then what makes Ip Man any different?

American Sniper

American Sniper by Clint Eastwood starring Bradley Cooper. A pro-American, pro-war movie about how returning veterans suffer from PTSD by shooting the heads off of people in a foreign country. If they never went to war in the first place, would they still have PTSD?

Just because a movie doesn't align with your own political views or biases, does not make it automatically "propaganda".

Red Dawn Remake

Red Dawn remake starring Chris Hemsworth, depicting a fantasy scenario of North Korea invading the United States. The original enemy in the script was supposed to be China, but filmmakers had to change it because they realized Chinese people both in and outside of China actually watch Hollywood movies.

Olympus Has Fallen

Olympus Has Fallen. A a ridiculously silly politically charged film showing the White House being attacked by North Korea. When in reality, it was white supremacist groups and KKK members who stormed the White House in the 2021 United States Capitol Attack. How appropriately ironic.

We can't "pick and choose" what we judge to be unacceptable to us in one circumstance, only to allow it and let it slide in a different circumstance, because one is convenient, while the other is not.

That is called hypocrisy.

Double Standards Of The West

The Interview with James Franco and Seth Rogan

The Interview (2014) with James Franco and Seth Rogan. Is it just a movie? Or is it a politically-charged film with anti-Asian undertones disguised as a "comedy"?

When have we as human beings ever complained when we watched Hollywood / western media produce and spin stories of their own characters whether real life or fiction (such as with their comic book superheroes) to prop up their legacies and storyline angles to make them the heroes / look superior to everyone else?

African Black Slavery Slave Trade

We don't need to remind readers that America was built on African / black slavery and slave labour, as this has been documented in many films already.

Native Indians Indigenous People in Public School System

Native Indians / Indigenous People forced into public schools systems that stripped them of their culture, language, and identity, so that they would forget about who they were and be ashamed of themselves.

Would they make the same movies about the horrors they caused others in war or the people they sidelined, and characters they erased / whitewashed (and they do quite a fair bit of that) along the way?

Unlikely, because it wouldn’t be commercially viable and it wouldn't fit the mainstream narrative that they want to promote.

Chris Evans as Captain America

Captain America wouldn't look very "righteous" if he had to explain to the American viewers and global audiences that America was actually stolen native land, now would it? Ouch...

If we want to judge one side of entertainment (Ip Man movies in this case) being released as historically inaccurate or politically incorrect, but then choose to not bat an eye and instead hold other movies to a lower standard as “popcorn entertainment”, then we fail to see that it is our own brainwashed bias that is the problem, not the entertainment that is being presented to us.

Case in point: Many people consume Japanese anime / movies or Korean pop music / culture / dramas, but you don't see them complaining about their nationalism or overly prideful depictions of their peoples or countries.

Japanese Anime Culture

Ahh, Japanese anime culture is so kawaii (cute)! Why is it not hated as "propaganda"? Because the country of Japan is demilitarized since WW2 and no longer the enemy of the west.

But all of a sudden when it comes to Chinese media, because China doesn't have a recognized brand or product or commodity, anything positive said about their country or people is all of a sudden "communist propaganda".

Are you a bigot? Because one would only feel this way if they were a bigot.

A Critical Lens For All

Rambo

Sylvester Stallone plays Rambo. Is this a pro-war movie franchise?

If you don’t want to see people led astray by propaganda, then the same critical lens should be applied anywhere, anytime, across all mediums, not just media from countries that you have decided to not like because of your own political agenda (or perhaps because you consumed too much Hollywood media).

Frankly for many Asians and Asian Americans, we are tired of seeing the same old western tropes of Asians being the bad guys in movies and vilified in history as the ones who deserved being bombed, the ones who deserved being beat down, always playing the loser / nerd / sidekick in movies, and always the ones incapable of leadership, self-governance, and needing help or "saving" from "white saviour" westerners.

Wolverine Hugh Jackman

Hugh Jackman as The Wolverine. He comes to Japan on vacation to go on a massive Asian-male killing spree while using Asian women as his sexual conquests. He even "saves" a Japanese man from the atomic bomb that of course, his own people (the west) dropped. Totally. Not. Propaganda.

It is solely because of the blatant negative Hollywood representation (read: propaganda and brainwashing) that Asians today are the recipient of massive hate crimes and constant gaslighting (ie. your movie is "propaganda", ours isn't) from not just other communities but from even within our own Asian communities.

Hollywood films constantly push this narrative of Asians as being “the other” and that either they’re the barbaric enemy or that they’re the subservient assistant (but can't decide which one it is, so Asians must be both at once).

In the west, Asian men are largely portrayed in the media as emasculated beta nerds or one dimensional Kung Fu masters, and Asian women are seen as toxic "dragon ladies" or subservient prostitutes / sex slaves / sex robots.

We are constantly dismissed and told that our lives, our feelings, our thoughts somehow don’t matter, because we "all look alike" and are subhuman.

Japanese Americans in Japanese Internment Camps

Japanese Americans in Japanese Internment Camps during WW2. When will Hollywood put this in their next superhero blockbuster?

When Hollywood retells its historical tales, they gloss over the fact that they’ve put Japanese Americans in internment camps during WW2, that they’ve exploited Chinese coolie labor to build the railroads to open up the west coast, that they have carpet bombed Asian and Middle Eastern countries, and used nuclear bombs and Agent Orange in Japan and Vietnam respectively, amongst many other wrongdoings.

Also don't forget The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which was the first significant law restricting immigration into the United States. Many Americans on the West Coast attributed declining wages and economic ills to Chinese workers. Although the Chinese composed only .002 percent of the nation's population, Congress passed the exclusion act to placate worker demands and assuage prevalent concerns about maintaining white "racial purity."

Chinese Railroad Workers

Chinese railroad workers built and opened up the entire west coast in both America and Canada. They are uncredited for their labour, and won't be appearing in a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie anytime soon.

Until movie industries in the west such as Hollywood decide to make a movie talking about Asian American history, or about the Native Indian indigenous peoples - why should we be expecting 100% faithful historical accuracy from other movie industries?

Thought Exercise: What If Everything Was Propaganda?

Jet Li Huo Yuan Jia Fearless

Jet Li as Chinese folk hero Huo Yuan Jia / Fok Yuen Gaap. Huo is considered a hero in China for defeating foreign fighters in highly publicized matches at a time when Chinese sovereignty was being eroded by foreign imperialism, concessions and spheres of influence.

Imagine if Jet Li’s Fearless a.k.a. Huo Yuan Jia film came out in today’s political climate instead of 10+ years ago - everyone would call it "Chinese propaganda".

When in reality, Huo Yuan Jia actually defended the dignity and pride of the Chinese people by accepting highly publicized challenge matches from foreigners.

If we think Ip Man and Huo Yuan Jia, or even Wong Fei Hung are propaganda characters, then are we going to go full-on revisionist and say Bruce Lee's Chen Zhen character in Fist of Fury was also Chinese propaganda too?

Bruce Lee as Chen Zhen

Bruce Lee as Chen Zhen in Fist of Fury.

Maybe Chen Zhen was "racist" against the Japanese in the movie, who were only trying to help "save" China and the Chinese people?

As for Bruce Lee himself, when he came out to represent Kung Fu and Chinese / Asians in 1960-1970’s era, he brought balls to many Asian men who never had a hero to look up to before he came around.

Tony Jaa in Ong Bak

Tony Jaa as Ting in Ong Bak.

Speaking of corny storylines or cartoonish villains, why aren't we scrutinizing Tony Jaa's Ong Bak?

Tony Jaa's Ting character was elbowing skulls and teep kicking cartoony farang (foreigners) for calling Thai women hookers, harassing the Thai people, and disrespecting the art of Muay Thai. Is that considered drumming up Thai nationalism?

Or maybe, people will say the movie Tom Yum Goong (The Protector) was pro-Thai propaganda because Tony Jaa went to Australia and killed about 300 foreigner gangsters with his elephant-style Muay Thai dubbed "Elephant Boxing".

Tony Jaa in Tom Yum Goong The Protector

Tony Jaa in Tom Yum Goong (The Protector).

See how silly it all sounds when this hypocritical standard is applied to other movies?

Since when did celebrating your own heroes, characters, and culture considered propaganda?

And by who's standards are we judging these movies by? The western standard?

Remember that anytime we point a finger at someone, there are always three fingers pointing back at ourselves.

- Dynasty Team

June 07, 2021 — Dynasty Team

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.