Smitha Radhakrishnan speaks to Punching at the Sun director Tanuj Chopra about his film's online premiere on Jaman.com.
This is an analysis of a really good-looking man named Daniel Henney and his potential to shatter preconceived notions of Asian American men in America.
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Kaba Modern keeps bringing the moves, and new casting announcements for Street Fighter, X-Men and Astro Boy. All this and more in the latest edition of News Bites.
Kaba Modern, JabbaWockeeZ on MTV's America's Best Dance Crew
When votes matter (and it definitely matters in reality TV land) it's always nice to have a generous fan base behind you. Enter hip hop crew from UC Irvine: Kaba Modern. A hip hop street dance crew since 1992 and winners at the 2007 Hip Hop Internationals, six of the original thirty-six dance members take the national stage in Randy Jackson's MTV reality show competition, America's Best Dance Crew. It's already Week 5 in the faceoff between amateur dance crews vying for fame and a cash prize, and the Asian American crew Kaba Modern are a continual a favorite in the competition. Another crew is the Asian American multi-ethnic collaboration, JabbaWockeeZ. The team has also remained successful in their performances and rankings for the past 4 episodes. JabbaWockeeZ's six members are scattered throughout the West Coast, but are unified with their iconic white masks when they battle on the dance floor. The Asian American dance battle phenomenon is nothing new to Southern California where the Hip Hop International, Prelude, and Fusion dance competitions are annual gatherings. America's Best Dance Crew premiered February 7 on MTV. For more information about the show, click here. --LiAnn Ishizuka
Kristen Kreuk takes it to the street
Despite the massive international success the Street Fighter franchise has seen over the past two decades, film adaptations have been been laughable at best. Hong Kong gave it a shot with the Andy Lau laugher Future Cops in 1993, and Hollywood followed a year later by producing the first officially licensed (and first officially atrocious) Street Fighter film to mixed reviews. Perhaps the third time will be the charm, as Hyde Park Entertainment has announced that Kristin Kreuk (Smallville) will assuming the role of the film's lead character: lightning legs herself, Chun Li. Aside from Michael Clark Duncan (Green Mile), other notable castees incude Moon Bloodgood (Journeyman), Rick Yune (The Fast and the Furious), Edmund Cheung (the original version of The Eye), and legendary wuxia starlet, Cheng Pei Pei (Come Drink with Me). Chereographer Dion Lam, who helped program Keanu "I know Kung Fu" Reeves into a martial arts machine in The Matrix, will be staging the film's fights. Filming begins this month. --William Hong
Daniel Henney Zeros in on X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Heart-throb Daniel Henney has gone from K-drama hero to Agent Zero: the American Korean model turned actor will be kicking ass and taking names as the mutant mercenary alongside Hugh "Wolverine" Jackman in the upcoming X-Men Origins: Wolverine film. The film takes place 17 years prior to the first X-Men film, during Wolverine's involvement with the black ops CIA group Team X in the Cold War era. Notable Team X members include Agent Zero and Wolverine's eventual arch nemesis, Sabertooth. Casting Henney as the German born Agent Zero is an interesting reversal of Hollywood norms; Henney cites his fluency with English and having a more "westernized" appearance enabled him to play more original roles not offered to other Asian actors. Relatively unknown in the US, Henney is primarily known for his performances in Korean dramas like My Lovely Sam Soon, where he played American born Korean doctor Henry Kim. X-Men Origins: Wolverine is due out in 2009. --William Hong
Astro Boy's New Voice
Freddie Highmore, the cute British kid from August Rush, is the voice of Astro Boy. The 2009 animated feature film is the fourth incarnation of Osamu Tezuka's landmark manga about a robot boy designed after the deceased son of his scientist creator. Astro Boy was previously a hit television series in Japan in the 1960s and one of the originators of the anime genre. The character gained popularity outside of Japan with the 1980s remake, which was remade again in 2003. This time around, Astro Boy is a Hong Kong-Japanese co-production between Imagi Animation Studios and Tezuka. The new Astro Boy team includes filmmakers outside of Asia as well. Highmore will get to work with fellow Briton, director David Bowers, who has worked on Flushed Away and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. American screenwriter Timothy Harris is adapting Tezuka's story for the big screen. Judging from the early buzz around this movie, it seems that Astro Boy never gets old. --Lisa Leong
Adventures in the world of Chinese food
In Jennifer 8. Lee's new book, and yes, her middle name is 8, all mysteries surrounding Chinese food in American (and believe it, there are many) are solved: everything from the true origin of fortune cookies to why Chinese food is the chosen cuisine for American Jews to the truth behind General Tso and is chicken. It is the young writer's first book, and it aims to argue "how Chinese food is more all-American than apple pie." Jennifer Lee is a Chinese American metropolitan reporter for the New York Times and a Harvard graduate. She is considered by David Folkenflik to be a master of the "conceptual scoop." A few of her various articles and some excerpts can be found on her book's blog. She says, interestingly, that she hopes to get the attention of Jewish Americans with her 18 chapters. (18 is a representation of "life.") --Ian Shaikh
Marvelously Magnificient Manga Mashup
Stan "The Man" Lee, co-creator of timeless superhero icons like Spider-Man and X-men, will be teaming up with Shaman King creator Hiroyuki Takei to create a new project for an upcoming spinoff Japanese mangazine, Jump SQ.II. The unnamed project will be unveiled in the magazine's premier issue, due out in mid April. This collaboration between Lee's Marvel Comics and Jump's Shueishia isn't anything new, as there have been several Spider-Man and X-Men comics adapted into manga form by manga creator Ryoichi Ikgami (Crying Freeman). Noting the increasing popularity of manga in the US, Marvel launched its Mangaverse lineup of comics in 2001, created mostly by North American talent. Marvel has also brought over several notable manga artists like Kia Asamiya (Silent Mobius) to the US to work on various Marvel franchises. Book publishing company Del Rey, which also has its own manga lineup, is working with Marvel to produce an X-Men series in shoujo (girl comic) form. This shoujo-fied X-Men title will feature art from Indonesian artist Anzu and will be penned by veteran Wolverine scribe Anthony Johnson. Excelsior! --William Hong
Legend of "Tokyo Rose" Onstage
Art imitates history in Glenn Conner Johnson's new play, Roar of the Tiger: The Legend of Tokyo Rose based on the myth of "Tokyo Rose," a nickname coined by Allied forces during WWII, once referring to various female Japanese propaganda broadcasters. "Tokyo Rose" was also strongly associated with Japanese American, Iva Ikuko Toguri D'Aquino, who was wrongly convicted of treason and imprisoned for eight years despite being entirely innocent. Toguri D'Aquino and other American POWs were assigned to radio broadcasts during the war. After the 1970s trial supporting her claim as a loyal American, she was pardoned in 1977 by President Gerald Ford. Before her death in 2006, Toguri D'Aquino was awarded the Edward J. Herlihy Citizenship Award by the World War II Veterans Committee. Performances of the play continue through March 23 at the Egyptian Arena Theatre in Hollywood. For more information about the play, click here. --LiAnn Ishizuka
Mira Nair presents at SAWLF forum
Congress 2008, a yearly event started by the South Asian Women's Leadership Forum, will be held in New York March 15th for Women's History Month. The SAWLF was founded in 2003 to create a opportunity for professional women to interact and assist each other with their personal and career goals. SAWLF participants number around 4000 in the US, and over 400 professional South Asian women are expected to attend this event, including director Mira Nair, who will give the final presentation. The event is committed to providing a forum for South Asian women to discuss the challenges and accomplishments of their lives and learn from successful leaders. Topics will include comparisons between the US and South Asia in regard to woman leadership, the fashion industry, media, and business. --Ian Shaikh
Dancing in three dimensions
Following the box-office success of Jon M. Chu's Step Up 2 the Streets after its Valentine's Day opening, Disney is ready to dance again. But this time, bring your old school red-and-blue lensed cardboard glasses, cause the third installment is tentatively titled Step Up 3-D. The Disney folk are so clever. What will they Step Up 4 next? Alright, that's all I've got for this one. --Ada Tseng
Date Posted: 3/7/2008