Rush Hour

The first time that I can remember seeing an Asian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander in the media was in the movie Rush Hour. It was in 1998 and I was seven years old, little did I know the movie had a different stereotypes throughout the film. Rush Hour is an action oriented movie that takes place in Los Angeles. Jackie Chan the lead actor in the film is flown in from China to try an save an old friends daughter who had been recently kidnapped by the triads (Asian gang). Throughout the movie there are several action-packed scenes including ones that are filled with plenty of martial arts scenes. The movie contains three different Asian or Asian American actors that play somewhat vital roles in the movie. Throughout the entire movie several stereotypes are expressed in the film plenty of which we have learned so far throughout the course. Yellow peril and the way that people tend to portray Asian/Asian Americans in movies and the media. 

The main character Inspector Lee is portrayed at first as a soft spoken Asian man who has very broken English and seems to be confused about his surroundings when he first enters America from China. As the movie progresses and the action scenes start to pile up you see Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan) turn into martial arts masters and was quickly turning from this soft spoken Asian man into this martial arts hero whom no one could beat. I believe this is how many Asian male actors are portrayed in a lot of different action movies. They are always extremely good at martial arts and when they are not fighting they are quiet and seem not to speak or be that good at fluently speaking English. Also in many other movies you don’t usually see these Asian actors use any kind of weapon except weapons that could be identified as ancient Chinese weapons. These different sorts of examples I believe show how many people still portray Asian/Asian Americans in film today. 

Another thing that I now notice that I did not notice when I was younger is the amount of Yellow Peril that is incorporated in the movie. I remember when I was younger that I was very afraid of the bad guys in the movie. The triads were portrayed as a very vicious and powerful gang that were very capable of taking over. They were able to put fear in a lot of different people’s minds because of how vicious that they were in the movie. They would blow up building killing police officers and civilians. They would torture people in the movie. This I believe can set in the fear that yellow peril once instilled into peoples minds. The fear over Asian/Asian Americans taking over due to the power that they may have.

Looking back now I am very shocked to see the amount of stereotype that happens in what was once my favorite movie. It is sort of different to look back and see the different things that we have been discussing in the course thus far in movies that we as children had no clue. The different references that they make to yellow peril and different things is sort of ridiculous now that I am able to sit down and watch the movie again. 

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One thought on “Rush Hour

  1. Hi Sterling, I enjoyed reading your analysis of Rush Hour. Your highlight how the controlling images of Asians/Asian Americans are reinforced through some of the characters. Do you think the Inspector Lee character challenges some of the stereotypes in terms of “Americans” changing some of their ideas about him?

    Kathy

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