Sunday, March 30, 2008

I like Jet Li!

Yes, I confess, I do like Jet Li. A lot. So, when I saw his new movie War (2007) offered at the DVD machine yesterday, I went for it. I am a sucker for movies where the good prevails and where an individual has the determination and the strength to defeat the evil and make their own justice in this world (though, I have to admit, on a certain level this is deeply disturbing, especially if you commit yourself to the principles of the rule of law, and not the rule of the fist...).

But the curse of living your life in the academic world is that you cannot escape your critical thinking mind, not even when you watch your usual Hollywood-type movie. I could not help but notice how difference was constructed, not only in terms of the topic, but in terms of the choices movie-makers made, choices of actors, of ideas, of stereotypes. And this is what my critical thinking mind wondered while watching War last night:
  • This is a very politically correct movie: you have several visible minorities present as lead or supporting actors. But then I wondered why most movies with Jet Li or Jackie Chan have to be karate/ action movies. And I remember what a friend of mine said: "I do not like the watch movies with Black actors". Here goes the political correctness down the drain...

  • Is San Francisco a Yakuza-ruled town? And are all Asian neighborhoods dominated by the Japanese mafia? Yes, I know it's a movie. Yes, I know there's criminality everywhere. And yes, an incipient stereotype was inconspicuously born in my mind last night. A stereotype and a fear, which will make me unconsciously avoid certain places I identify as resembling the urban images I saw in the movie last night. Here goes my political correctness down the drain...

  • The second-in-command in one of the Yakuza clan was this woman, the daughter of the big boss. She the big-shot. And yet, as soon as her dad is not there, the others are challenging her lead because she is a woman. She puts them back in their places with a blade and a gun, humbles them and makes them agree with her. "Go get me a salad", she says, and the men are confused. They're not some woman's servants, but hey, she holds the gun to their head. They look at each other, and they give up. They go get her salad, but they remember to mutter: "Bitch". So, if she was a he, they would have said "Dog" or what?
Now that I got you interested in the movie, peak at the trailer, and go get War:

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