Five Asian-American Films Before Crazy Rich Asians


This month, romantic comedy film Crazy Rich Asians came out in American theatres. The film which is based on the bestselling novel of the same name debuted at 100% on the Tomatometer. Later this month, other Asian-inspired TV and movie projects including Searching (an Asian-American family thriller) and the sitcom Fresh Off the Boat Season 2 will also premiere.

For many people of Asian descent, it’s one good reason to celebrate. Finally, they can see themselves on screen and think “Wow! A film that represents who we are!”

Well, this isn’t actually the first time! There were a few movies before with Asian-American representation. Check out the list below.

The Karate Kid

What’s Karate without any Asian character? In this famous movie, Asian-American Pat Morita played the role of the sensei Miyagi who taught the young boy Daniel. A remake was done in 2010 which stars Jaden Smith as the kid and Jackie Chan as the kung fu master.

The Karate Kid 1984

The Wedding Banquet

Several As-Am plots start with immigrant stories. A very common storytelling ground is how the conservative Asian family structure mix and smash against a more liberated American family. The funny story of The Wedding Banquet shows how a gay Taiwanese man marries an Asian woman to please his parents. The woman agrees to the set-up wedding to help her get a green card. The simple wedding arrangement turned to a crazy wedding banquet when his parents decided to join in and discovered their son’s secret relationship to an American man.

The Wedding Banquet

The Joy Luck Club

This is what they meant when they said Crazy Rich Asians was the first Asian-American film in 25 years. This movie in 1993 follows the story of four Chinese women who occasionally meet for mah-jong to play and discuss their relationships with their American daughters. Their discussion involves how different their old-school values were from the new freedom their daughters’ experience. Although the movie was a mild box office success, it continues to be part of conversations due to its relevance on how stories are told in the female perspective.

Joy Luck Club

Green Dragon

This movie discusses a more important social issue. It’s about Vietnamese refugees who were sent to an orientation camp in California. The story is set in 1975, after President Gerald Ford passed the Indochina Migration and Refugee Assistance Act, allowing over 100,000 refugees to enter legally the United States.  The film tells the story of two children who went through fear and hope. With the help of developing a good relationship with American Sergeant Lance, the two children were able to improve conditions for all other refugees.

Green Dragon Movie

Better Luck Tomorrow

This crime-drama film directed by Justin Lin was shown in 2002. It follows the story of four Asian-American overachievers who wanted to do something exciting with their lives. They got involved in petty crimes and later becomes part of a school-wide cheat sheet operation, which led to the incidental death of another student. The film which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival is based loosely on the murder of Stuart Tay, a teenager from California by four high school honor students on December 1992.

Better Luck Tomorrow