HomeAsian AmericansThis month could rival 'Asian August' for AAPI representation in Hollywood

This month could rival ‘Asian August’ for AAPI representation in Hollywood

Liu Yifei as Mulan

Views from the Edge

We need to come up with a name for March, which will be a huge month for launching Asian American projects on American television.

We dubbed “Asian August” for the 2018 debuts for Crazy Rich Asians with its all-Asian cast, John Cho’s Searching and on TV the YA romcom To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before with Lana Condor in the lead. Those projects opened the doors and eyes of Hollywood to the profitability and acceptability of Asian-led or Asian-themed movies and series.

March might not be as historic but it could be equally entertaining as Asian August was in 2018. March has several projects being launched that could cement the idea of Asian and Asian American story lines and actors taking the lead.

As an exclamation point to #RepresentationMatters, the South Korean movie Parasite won the Oscar for Best Picture this year and is doing boffo business at the US box office despite having subtitles and an all-Korean cast.

Mulan, March 27

Let’s start with the biggest event: the long-awaited release of the live-action Mulan. The Disney film, telling the ancient Chinese legend, is set to premiere on March 27, over 20 years after the release of the original animated hit film featuring the studio’s first Asian “princess.”

We’ve written about the upcoming movie in previous posts as it developed. A lot is riding on the film with a budget north of $100 million. Here are some of the major changes:

  • It won’t be a musical so actors won’t be breaking into the iconic songs associated with the animated version. Instead, we’ll hear the familiar notes as background music. However, Christina Aguilera,who broke out with her song Reflection in the original, recently revealed she recorded some new music for the update.
  • Mushu the dragon, originally voiced by Eddie Murphy, won’t be in the new pic even though it was one of the most beloved characters in the animated version.
  • Li Shang, Mulan’s commanding officer and the romantic interest in the original, has been eliminated in the wake of #MeToo movement, according to director Niki Caro.
  • New characters have been added: Gong Li plays a sorceress with magic powers.
  • The movie is starting in the hole after lead actress Yifei Liu voiced her support of the Hong Kong police, anti-government demonstrators vowed to boycott the film; In addition, the fears of the coronavirus may dampen box office expectations in China.

Other well-known cast members include, Jet Li, Gong Li, Donnie Yen, Jason Scott Lee, Tzi Ma and Rosalind Chao, 

It was five years in the making but, at last, the live-action Mulan is finally here — coronavirus or not!

Devs, March 5

Devs, starring Japanese-born British actress Sonoya Mizuno (Crazy Rich Asians, Ex Machina) premieres March 5 on streaming network Hulu.

In Devs, a young software engineer, Lily Chan, investigates the secret development division of her employer, a cutting-edge tech company based in Silicon Valley, which she believes is behind the murder of her boyfriend.

Mizuno as “Lily Chan;” will join a cast that also includes Nick Offerman as “Forest,” the CEO of Amaya; Jin Ha as “Jamie,” Lily’s former boyfriend; Karl Glusman as “Sergei,” Lily’s boyfriend; Zach Grenier as “Kenton,” Amaya’s Head of Security; Stephen McKinley Henderson as “Stewart,” one of the top minds working in Amaya’s secret development division; Cailee Spaeny as the young, brilliant “Lyndon;” and Alison Pill as “Katie,” the gifted quantum physicist and second in command at Amaya.

Alex Garland writes, directs and serves as executive producer of Devs along with Andrew Macdonald and Allon Reich of DNA TV, Scott Rudin, Eli Bush and Garrett Basch. The series is produced by FX Productions.

Family Karma, March 8

The Family Karma premieres Sunday, March 8 at 9/8c on Bravo. The Miami-based reality show centers on a group of Indian American friends and their families. Beautiful rich people in sexy Miami says Bravo might have a hit on its hands. Arranged marriages, mixed couples, etc. Expect a lot of culture clashes between the parents and the young adults.

Mira, Royal Detective, March 20

Mira, Royal Detective will premiere in the U.S. on Friday, March 20 (11 a.m. EDT/PDT on Disney Channel and 7 p.m. EDT/PDT on Disney Junior). A  cast of Indian American stars from Dev Patel to Jameela Jamil provide the voices for the characters. Brown Asian American kids will finally see characters that look like them.

Almost Paradise, March 30

Philippine-based Almost Paradise debuts on Monday, March 30, 10 p.m. on the WGN America network. Created by Filipino American producer Dean Devlin, who has a score of box office hits, including Independence Day, Godzilla, The Librarian series, the Stargate franchise.

Shot on location in the Cebu, Philippines,  Almost Paradise stars The Librarian star Christian Kane. The 10-episode action series hopes to make the most of the Hawaii-like appeal of the tropical island setting.

Almost Paradise centers on Alex Walker (Kane), a former US DEA agent who was forced into early retirement. Once the DEA’s most resourceful undercover operative, the combination of his partner’s betrayal and a life-threatening battle with hypertension has sent him as far from the madness as he can go… a small tropical island in the Philippine Archipelago. Despite his best efforts to begin a tranquil new life, he’s pulled back into a world of dangerous people and deadly situations, either through his friends in the local police or running into people from his old life. And the problem is, he likes it.

Naturally, the show will give the opportunity for breakout roles for lot of Southeast Asian talent, especially Samantha Richelle, a real-life Brunei princess, who portrays Kai Mendoza, a new detective in the local police force.

Back to my original question at the top of this post. Asian March? MarchAsian? Asian Spring? Help me out, readers. Any suggestions?

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