HomeAsian Americans#AsianAugust: Celebrate Asian American Representation in Hollywood with these 8 Movies

#AsianAugust: Celebrate Asian American Representation in Hollywood with these 8 Movies

Crazy Rich Asians


This month, the film industry has released several movies like Crazy Rich Asians, To All the Boys I Loved Before, and Searching which star Asian Americans.
Twitter users have since created a micro social media movement via the hashtag #AsianAugust to celebrate the increase of Asian American representation in film.


Although this is a new development, Asian Americans have a long history within the film industry. The Washington Posrecently published an article  that listed several films that were an important part of the journey towards #AsianAugust. As August draws to a close, here are eight films, that have paved the way for movies like Crazy Rich Asians.

The Bridge on the River Kwai


The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 film about a group of British POWs at a World War II Japanese prison camp in Burma who are forced to build a bridge. The film features silent film actor Sessue Hayakawa who plays Colonel Saito, the commandant of the camp. According to The Washington Post, many considered Hayakawa to be the first Asian American actor. Hayakawa began acting in the early 1900s and by 1918 had established himself well enough in the industry to create his own film studio.


The 1957 film is about an Air Force pilot who falls in love with a Japanese actress during the Korean War despite being opposed to marriages between Japanese women and American military men. Although the film deals with the issue of interracial marriage in America, some critics felt that it perpetuated stereotypes of Asian American women. The film featured Japanese American actress Miyoshi Umeki, who won an Oscar for her supporting role. She is the only Asian American woman to win an Oscar for acting.

Enter the Dragon


The 1973 film stars Bruce Lee, who plays a martial arts instructor searching for the drug dealer who is responsible for the death of his sister. The film was released six days after Lee’s death and became one of the highest grossing films of the year. Some believe that Enter the Dragon was the film that turned Lee into an icon.

The Killing Fields


The Killing Fields is actually a British film released in 1984 that was based on the experiences of two journalists: Sydney Schanberg and Dith Pran who worked in Cambodia during the civil war between the Khmer Rouge regime and the Cambodian National Army. The film starred Cambodian American Haing S. Ngor who won Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards. Ngor had no previous acting experience prior to starring in The Killing Fields.

The Wedding Banquet


The Wedding Banquet is a film about a gay Taiwanese immigrant named Wai-Tung Gao who struggles to come out to his parents. To appease his parents he marries a Chinese woman named Wei-Wei who is a struggling artist hoping to get her green card. The 1993 film was directed by Ang Lee. According to The Washington Post it became “the most profitable film of the year when measured by the percentage of cost” and “helped kick-start” Ang Lee’s successful career.



The popular Disney movie is about a girl named Mulan who disguises herself as a boy in order to take the place of her aging father so he does not have to be drafted into the Chinese military. It was one of the first movies to feature mostly Asian American voice actors. A live action version of the movie is set to be released in 2020.

Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle


The 2004 stoner comedy is about two friends, Harold and Kumar, who go on a journey to find a White Castle after being captivated by a White Castle commercial they watch while getting high. The movie starred John Cho and Kal Penn. The comedy performed poorly at the box office, but it gained a cult following. Cho and Penn later reprised their roles in two sequels. It was the first franchise to be led by Asian American actors.

The Big Sick

The Big Sick is a film about a romance between a Pakistani American comedian named Kumail and a graduate student named Emily who falls into a coma after being hospitalized. The screenplay is based on the love story of Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gordon. It also deals with the It is the first original screenplay about an Asian American experience to be nominated for an Academy Award.

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  1. RE: #AsianAugust: Celebrate Asian American representation in Hollywood with these 8 Movies:To all the boys I loved before is not a movie the Asian American community should be supporting, according to the logic of the star of that movie that would be racist.


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