The Stereotype of Asian Character in Movies

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The art of martial arts has always been a role played by people of Asian origin in Hollywood movies. This kind of stereotype began in the 19th

centuries with dreadful hero’s being the main ideas of films cast by Chinese who were given characters of being Martial Art Experts. In the movie, ‘Enter the Dragon’ Bruce Lee is a martial artist who believes in honor. Bruce life story explains him as a hardcore fighter from childhood (Clouse, 1973). The producer of the movie creates a badass character and maintains the idea that Asians are full of Oriental (Clouse, 1973).

The perception that all martial artist experts are of an Asian origin has always been a wrong channel of characterization by many Hollywood producers. It is true that martial arts are an Asian foundation, but that does not mean Asian-America character should be enrolled in the art of war. Another wrong characterization is that Asian people who love martial arts are all loud when they make their stands. Some martial arts require meditation and silence, but not cat sounds like Bruce Lee is featured in this movie (Cabin, 2013).

Sexual abusive and street thug appeals are associated with Han another Asian character (Cabin, 2013). Regardless of the history, it does not mean that prostitution was the main crime in Asia as it is associated. Hans’ role is make shifted with drugs such as opium; he is inclined to torture and prostitution (Clouse, 1973). The perception of  Hans character is distributed towards Asian thug communities making huge misunderstood concept within filmmaking. Also, it is important to understand that dropping out from Shaolin does not describe you to be a thug in the Asian community nor does going through the Shaolin School make you a war expert.

The Joy Luck Club

In the movie ‘The Joy Luck Club,’ the idea of Asian women being dependent on men for riches, and that Asian men are polygamists as describe should face great critics. ‘One auntie gets married to a rich man as a fourth wife just to secure a place in power (Wang, 1993).’ The women in this movie are categorized with love of societal exposure through being in rich families; the notion that women in Asian society are dependent on men is not a realistic role as many women are dependent and undertake their own business. The characterization of Kieu Chinh, Tsai Chin, France Nuyen, Lisa Luol as old women with regrets and all they can do is play games in their club is not right (Wang, 1993). Their many roles to offer rather than building a helpless and aged environment as an associate to Asian characters. I wonder why the movie had to take Asians to represent themes such old, weak and regretful.

Associating success of an Asian woman with evil deeds and secrecy is also another negative stereotype identity in the movie. The movie suggests that women in China are not recognized specifically those who felt they were independent thinkers. June’s mother undertakes a merciless task of abandoning her firstborn twins on the roadside (Wang, 1993). She lacks an idea of how to tell June her actions for she knew that it could affect their relationship. Building trust on lies is a character built to explain June’s mother. Women from Asia are strong and can handle pressure and difficult situations, and it is not right to detail them with weakness and lies. The truth is that the roles in this movie are assigned regarding victimization, but the significance of developing a real image is not achieved.

Another realized character as associated with Asian women is being conservative. The movie explains that they have not accepted the new ways in the United States and are always complaining about their children. They feel that some of their daughters are getting married to men who do not have table manners as they abandon them for modern but cold houses (Wang, 1993). In real life, Asian women are not fully conservative nor do they have to undertake inhuman activities such as damping their children in roadsides to make a life for themselves. It is good to understand that Asian communities are full of advancement. They love their children to points that many of them will not leave them for anything, meaning that, the characters within this movie are wrong.

Better Luck Tomorrow

            The movie ‘Better Luck Tomorrow’ explains the idea that all Asians are nerds and are entitled to A’s. The movie suggests that chines are low life criminals with one agenda of getting rich as featured by the words "Our straight A's were our passports to freedom’ (Lin, 2003). These words are the key motive of how the producer wants Asians to look like in the movie. Being engineering motivated and with great influences towards technology is another character associated with Asian countries. Lin, on the other hand, expresses his thoughts through the ethnic group that has made success in industriousness.

The thought that Asians cannot play good basketball is indirectly explained. Ben encounters discrimination as he is addressed as "token Asian" benchwarmer although he has had many free throws in the history of basketball (Lin, 2003). It is also difficult to understand why he has to quit basketball (Lin, 2003). The producer’s idea that Asians are quitters is speculative but not factual.

The Hidden Concept of Racism in Movies

The idea behind Hollywood producers is making a show through racism. I feel that there is the better villain in the movie Enter the Dragon far much reliable than Han. Does it necessarily mean that an American villain could not suit the role? The truth is since many people would prefer an Asian killing an Asian, rather than an American losing a battle against a man from China, they place a script to suit their views (Yuen, 2016). Nancy Yuen realizes how much Hollywood exploits the name talents to hide racism.

Narrowing the idea of helplessness, age and regrets to the Asian community are racist. It does not necessarily mean that old people within China are fully entitled to playing lazy games. I also do not see any talent pertaining being old (Yuen, 2016, p. 51). The reality is, the character has been placed without racial consideration.’ The joy luck club’ also shows how Asians are neglected and according to the producer, success for them revolves around luck. The truth is Asians are hardworking and do not depend on luck to become successful (Yuen, 2016, p. 52).

Moreover, it is also racial inappropriate to express the idea that Asians are brilliant (nerds), but they use their brilliance to hide their low gang life crime. The only true picture is that each community has a genius and a criminal. It is quite unfortunate that in the movie ‘Better Luck Tomorrow’ only Chinese young men could live a double life of being knowledgeable and as criminals. Evidence of racism in video shooting in Hollywood.


Cabin, C. (2013, August 24). SLANT. Retrieved February 15, 2008

Clouse, R. (Director). (1973). Enter the Dragon [Motion Picture].

Lin, J. (Director). (2003). Better Luck Tomorrow [Motion Picture].

Wang, W. (Director). (1993). The Joy Luck Club [Motion Picture].

Yuen, N. W. (2016). Reel Inequality: Hollywood Actors and Racism. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.

August 01, 2023




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Film Analysis

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