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Thread: Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood

  1. #76
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    Screen Actors Guild Awards

    Hmm, no thread on the SAG Awards? Well, that's easily remedied.

    Winners selected for those we've discusses as always.

    CAST IN A MOTION PICTURE
    RECIPIENT
    PARASITE

    Outstanding Performance by a
    MALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
    RECIPIENT
    JOAQUIN PHOENIX
    Joker

    Outstanding Performance by a
    MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
    RECIPIENT
    BRAD PITT
    Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood

    Outstanding Performance by a
    MALE ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
    RECIPIENT
    PETER DINKLAGE
    Game of Thrones

    STUNT ENSEMBLE IN A MOTION PICTURE
    RECIPIENT
    AVENGERS: ENDGAME

    THREADS
    Screen Actors Guild Awards
    Asian Film Festivals and Awards
    GOT
    Parasite
    Joker
    Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood
    Endgame
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  2. #77
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    Righting wrongs?

    Do these people not know about Brucexploitation? It's a whole genre.

    Will the Kung Fu remake right the wrongs suffered by Bruce Lee?
    After Lee was passed over for David Carradine to star in the 70s TV series, Universal must cast an Asian actor for its forthcoming film
    Ben Child
    @BenChildGeek
    Wed 22 Jan 2020 08.34 EST Last modified on Wed 22 Jan 2020 09.11 EST


    Unfair caricature … Mike Moh as Bruce Lee in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Photograph: Andrew Cooper

    One of the most startling moments in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is the scene in which Brad Pitt’s Cliff Booth humiliates Bruce Lee (played by Mike Moh) after he boasts of his martial-arts prowess. It has drawn criticism from Lee’s daughter Shannon Lee for portraying her late father as an “arrogant ******* who was full of hot air”, while Tarantino has defended his film as a work of fiction, albeit one, he insists, that has some grounding in truth. It’s sad that while the Pulp Fiction film-maker chose to lionise David Carradine, the star of 1970s TV show Kung Fu, in his Kill Bill movies, he decided to bring the late Hong Kong star back to life by portraying him as full of youthful truculence and hubris.

    After all, Kung Fu would never have been commissioned without the 70s martial-arts craze that was largely fuelled by Lee’s early films. And it’s probably fair to say that without the TV show, Kill Bill would have been a different beast. Tarantino not only borrows the TV show’s star, he half-inched its blend of eastern and western influences to frame the two parts of his own endeavour. Yet, while Carradine was treated with the utmost reverence in Kill Bill, Lee, without whom the American star would most likely never have had a career in martial-arts films, is depicted as a cocky idiot. As a creative decision, this is a bit like preferring the squeaky clean Pat Boone version of Ain’t That a Shame to Fats Domino’s full-blooded, velvety original.

    Tarantino is not the only figure in Hollywood who owes something to Lee’s legacy. Given the news that Universal is set to bring Kung Fu back to life as a big-screen remake, surely it’s about time to right the wrongs suffered by Lee more than four decades ago.

    Even Lee’s most casual fans should be aware that the star of Enter the Dragon was passed over for Carradine, with the suspicion being that TV executives preferred a white actor over the heavily accented Lee to play the mixed-race Shaolin monk Kwai Chang Caine. Lee’s widow Linda Lee Cadwell, in her memoir, even fuelled rumours that her late husband had come up with the idea for Kung Fu, and it seems that Lee was working on a similar concept titled The Warrior at the time of his death.

    Kung Fu went on to be one of the most celebrated TV shows of the 70s. Watching and enjoying its iconic moments – Caine’s early tutelage by Keye Luke’s Master Po as a “young grasshopper” in those much-imitated flashback sequences; the cavalcade of film and TV stars from William Shatner to Sandra Locke who appeared during the show’s three seasons in supporting roles – one is forced to remind oneself that the series represents one of the worst examples of yellowface in TV history. And yet, there it is.

    Perhaps, in reverence to the show’s cultural origins, Universal could make a gesture to the Lee estate. It would be fitting if some of the action star’s ideas from the long lost The Warrior ended up making it into the new Kung Fu, though that prospect has probably been diminished by the existence of Cinemax’s own Warrior show, which Lee’s daughter Shannon oversees.

    Still, there are other ways to ensure the film does not experience the ignominy of its TV predecessor. The very least Universal can do is to ensure Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw director David Leitch casts an actor of Asian heritage this time around.
    THREADS
    Kung Fu TV show REMAKE
    Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood
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  3. #78
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    And the winners are...

    Many congratulations to Parasite! What a history-making win.

    List below cherry-picked for films discussed here.
    OSCAR WINNERS

    BEST PICTURE
    Parasite
    Kwak Sin Ae and Bong Joon Ho, Producers

    ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
    Joaquin Phoenix
    Joker

    ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING…
    Brad Pitt
    Once upon a Time... in Hollywood

    DIRECTING
    Parasite
    Bong Joon Ho

    INTERNATIONAL FEATURE…
    Parasite
    South Korea

    MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)
    Joker
    Hildur Guðnadóttir

    PRODUCTION DESIGN
    Once upon a Time...in Hollywood
    Production Design: Barbara Ling,…

    WRITING (ORIGINAL…
    Parasite
    Screenplay by Bong Joon Ho, Han…
    REVIEWS
    Joker
    Once upon a Time...in Hollywood

    THREADS
    Joker
    Once upon a Time...in Hollywood
    Parasite
    Gene Ching
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  4. #79
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    RIP Huang Wei

    Bona Film Group Executive Dies by Apparent Suicide at 52
    5:13 AM PDT 6/10/2020 by Patrick Brzeski


    Getty Images
    Beijing

    Bona released a statement over social media saying that Huang Wei, a vice president at the company who oversaw its cinema division, had died, but provided no details.
    Shock waves of sorrow ripped through the Chinese film industry on Wednesday as news spread that Huang Wei, an influential and widely liked senior executive at Bona Film Group, leapt to his death from an 18th floor window at the company’s headquarters in central Beijing.
    Bona released a statement over social media late Wednesday saying that Huang, a vice president at the company who oversaw its cinema division, had died at the age of 52. No other details were included.
    Sources close to Bona tell The Hollywood Reporter that it is believed Huang jumped from an office window late Wednesday morning. The incident occurred at Bona’s corporate headquarters in the U-Center Building, a mixed-use commercial building in Beijing’s Chaoyang district.
    Bona is among China’s top-tier of film and media companies. The company produced or co-produced three of China’s 10 highest-grossing films of 2019, including The Captain ($410 million) and The Bravest ($237 million). The company also co-financed Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
    Huang joined Bona in 2009 from rival cinema circuit Stellar Cinemas. He was influential in Bona’s growth as a movie theater operator. The company now has approximately 80 cinemas in China.
    News of his death — and its suspected cause — circulated rapidly through the Beijing film business over social media.
    Leading Chinese auteur Jia Zhangke shared Bona’s statement on Weibo, writing simply, "Film industry grief." Jerry Ye, former president at Chinese studio Huayi Brothers Media, one of Bona’s biggest rivals, also posted just one word: "grief." Many others shared emojis of a single candle burning.
    Jimmy Wu, CEO of Chinese cinema chain Lumiere Pavilions, posted at length about Huang’s death, writing: "It's so sudden! ... On April 16th, we talked for more than half an hour! The call was mainly about the future of the cinema. He was a little depressed about the late opening of the cinema, and I talked a lot about the bright future of Chinese movies. ... I didn't expect to say good-bye after this conversation. Alas, I can not say a word. I sincerely hope that the relevant parties can let the movie theaters get back to work, so that staff can maintain a livelihood, in order to comfort Huang Wei's spirit in heaven!"

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  5. #80
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    Catharsis

    Watching Martial Arts Movies Amid Anti-Asian Violence Is Much-Needed Catharsis
    Movies and TV shows like 'The Paper Tigers' and 'Warrior' show the beauty of Asian American survival.
    By Frances Nguyen
    June 8, 2021, 4:00am


    IMAGE VIA YOUTUBE
    When I saw the opening seven minutes of Mortal Kombat on Instagram, it was the first time I’d felt anything in the realm of joy in over a month. Given the contents of the clip, I was also a little horrified at myself.

    Faithful to its video game source material, the violence in the film begins almost immediately. Within the opening minutes, a woman dies. A child dies. Hanzo Hasashi—the man who will become Scorpion, the character in the game I played most often growing up—liberates what looks like quarts of blood from the bodies of his masked opponents before confronting his nemesis, the man who will become the ice-wielding assassin Sub-Zero. The teaser leaves you at the edge of a fight that promises to be an enthralling one; here, once again, someone will surely die violently.


    The theatrically gory film was an odd source of comfort during the weeks-long despondency I felt following a series of shootings in Atlanta that left eight people dead, six of whom were women of Asian descent. With a never-ending reel of brutal violence against Asians circulating online, there was something refreshing about escaping into a world populated by people who look like me and who are portrayed as strong.

    Coming at the end of a year that gave rise to more than 6,600 reported instances of anti-Asian hate between March 2020 and March 2021, and where assaults continue almost daily across the country, watching a group of Asian characters wield their bodies with physics-defying agility and precision to deliver bouts that look and feel more like physical dialogue than combat made for a stark contrast to the images I was seeing on news broadcasts and social media, which tend to foreground Asian bodies as quiet, passive vessels for someone else’s rage.

    Examining some of the most brutal recorded attacks that have taken place this year—on elders Vicha Ratanapakdee, Vilma Kari, and Yao Pan Ma—the abridged stories captured on camera repeat the same refrain: The Asian body appears and is brutalized; that’s all that we see. For Asian Americans, these scenes invite us to participate in a ritual of vicarious trauma: Without sound, our minds train instead on the movements of the bodies that appear on screen. We imagine ourselves and our loved ones in the only body that bears our likeness—the victim’s—and our own bodies are activated by the input of threat.

    Up until recently, however, Hollywood has arguably done little to provide counter-narratives to these stories, narratives that acknowledge the real-life experiences and agency of the individuals who are navigating what it means to be Asian in America in real time. A report released last month—co-authored by sociologist Nancy Wang Yuen, author of Reel Inequality: Hollywood Actors and Racism, and Stacy L. Smith, founder of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative—revealed that in the top 100 films of 2019, just over a quarter of Asian and Pacific Islander (API) characters die by the end of the film—and all but one dies violently. The study also notes that 42 percent of the API characters experienced disparagement, including racist/sexist slurs, with 30 percent being tokenized (meaning they were the only Asian character in the film or scene) and 67 percent channeling tired Asian stereotypes. Notably, only 13 percent were portrayed as “fully human,” (ie, complex characters with agency) which the report measured in terms of them having a wide spectrum of relationships.

    I wasn’t alone in gravitating toward media where strong Asian characters took center stage. After the shootings in Atlanta—and after the video of Vilma Kari’s attack went viral—Yuen, the report’s co-author, told me that she and her friends started watching Kung Fu on The CW, a reboot of the 70s show starring David Carradine that premiered in early April.

    Though the original was not without its shortcomings (the lead role, of a half-Chinese Shaolin monk who wanders the Wild West, went to the white actor instead of Bruce Lee, despite Carradine having no prior martial arts training), the CW series gives the story a 21st century update. This time around, the lead is an Asian woman—and, importantly, an Asian woman who kicks ass. Olivia Liang’s Nicky Shen stands alone as the only Asian American woman lead on network television right now, and her characterization as a strong and capable defender of her hometown of San Francisco offers some counterweight to the blunt fact that Asian women are twice as likely to report being targets of anti-Asian hate than Asian men are.

    “Certainly, our show is not the solution, but I hope that we are a part of the solution,” showrunner Christina M. Kim said in a press conference a day after the Atlanta shootings.

    As Yuen sees it, the show’s main draw is its constellation of rich characters with developed backstories. “As an Asian American watching it, I feel empowered, not just because there’s martial arts but also in seeing people who aren’t just the sidekick, or the friend, or the villain,” she said. “They are the leads, and you feel like you can see yourself in different parts of them.” Ultimately, she said, that’s the goal of the report: for Hollywood to represent API characters as complex, multidimensional human beings—just like in real life.

    The Kung Fu reboot isn’t the only recent work that draws on martial arts as a vehicle for telling more three-dimensional human stories. The Paper Tigers—a charming comedy about three washed-up, middle-aged former kung fu disciples looking to avenge their sifu’s murder—uses the martial art as a way of telling a story about redemption, brotherhood, and becoming men.

    Released to streaming platforms and select theaters on May 7, The Paper Tigers complicates the strong-versus-weak narrative by presenting its heroes as both in different moments. They’re strong when they’re aligned to the teachings of kung fu—which espouse traditional Eastern values like honor, discipline, humility, and bravery—and weak, both physically and morally, when they stray from them. Throughout the film, the men contend with choosing when to fight and when to walk away: When his son gets beat up by the school bully, Danny, the lead character, tells the boy that he should have walked away from the kid who has been terrorizing him and his friend. Later, after one of the Tigers is sorely wounded, Danny heads off to a fight, but not before calling his son to tell him that he’s proud of him for sticking up for his friend. Fearing that he might not make it to see another day, he tells his son how to make a fist, but offers this information with a warning: “If you go looking for a fight, that makes you the bully.”

    Beyond the moments of pitch-perfect comedy (see: the many fortune cookie-worthy proverbs doled out by a white sifu, the men’s former schoolmate rival, in Cantonese, which none of them understand), there’s also something deeply gratifying about seeing bodies, out of practice for 25 years, reckon with their limitations and slowly relearn their discipline, building back their strength over time. Tran Quoc Bao, the film’s writer and director, said he wanted to highlight martial arts as a practice of discovering one’s inner strength, and learning the right moment to express it. “With martial arts,” he said, “it’s that constant sharpening of the sword knowing that you can hang it up and not use it.”
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  6. #81
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    Continued from previous post

    As it turns out, the film’s resonance with the present moment is something of a coincidence: Tran conceived the story a decade ago, drawing on his experiences growing up in a multicultural martial arts community in Seattle. He never imagined it would be released during a pandemic, much less at a time of surging racist violence.

    “Obviously, there’s a different subtext now that kind of lingers in the air,” he told me. Still, with its subtle allusions to race and cultural appropriation, the film hits upon facets of the Asian American experience that feel just as relevant now as they did several decades ago. Importantly, it’s also an Asian American film that exists on its own terms. Though it centers non-white experience, it doesn’t announce itself as such—not to the point of color-blindness, but in a way where cultural difference feels normal, and honored.

    It’s nice to see martial arts, and kung fu especially, treated with reverence and respect. Although kung fu and martial arts movies have been a part of Hollywood’s diet since the 70s, the form has too often been relegated to an unintentional sub-genre of comedy—one replete with its fair share of racist stereotypes. As the report notes, a large component of the anti-Asian racism perpetuated in pop culture is the representation of Asian men as weak and effeminate compared to their Western counterparts—an emasculation that continues to be expressed by Hollywood through the physical domination of Asian characters by predominantly white leading characters.

    One of the most notorious examples is Quentin Tarantino’s characterization of Lee, the most beloved and celebrated martial artist of all time. In Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the Lee character—caricatured as a toxically masculine showboat—challenges Brad Pitt’s stuntman character Cliff Booth to a three-round fight. It technically results in a draw, but Lee walks away humiliated after Booth handily throws him into a car.

    Yuen described the scene as exemplifying American pop culture’s impulse “to take a strong Asian man down a notch.”

    “They get these really amazing Asian actors who are at the top of their martial arts game, and then they have the white lead beat them up in order to show his prowess and maintain a kind of racial hierarchy,” she said.

    Not surprisingly, over the past year, there have been disturbing reflections of that dynamic in real life. After a man of Chinese descent was assaulted in an unprovoked attack outside New York City’s Penn Station in March, his attacker reportedly assumed a mocking kung fu stance before fleeing the scene.

    “It makes them feel better about themselves to beat up an Asian whom they feel is the enemy, because Hollywood has historically represented Asians as enemies,” said Yuen. Trump’s “kung flu” rhetoric from last year, part of his campaign to scapegoat Asians as foreign vectors of disease, certainly hasn’t helped.

    Warrior, a Cinemax original series with an Asian-dominant cast that premiered in 2019, is yet another martial arts-related project that attempts to examine and subvert this sort of racist scapegoating. With a premise conceived by the late Bruce Lee himself, the show is set during the Tong Wars of San Francisco in the 1870s—a period in American history that arguably gave birth to some of the most enduring and damaging Asian American stereotypes, from that of the disease-carrying foreigner to the Chinatown gangster and the brothel worker. The series follows Ah Sahm (played by Andrew Koji), a kung fu prodigy who becomes a hatchet man for a powerful tong, or criminal brotherhood, as it vies with rivals in Chinatown for control over resources. Notably, it’s set on the eve of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which effectively banned all immigration from China until 1943, in addition to prohibiting Chinese immigrants from becoming American citizens.

    “[In the show], we are dealing with the introduction of the Chinese mythology and propaganda machine,” said Olivia Cheng, who plays Ah Toy, a fictionalized version of the eponymous Chinatown madame known as the first recorded Chinese prostitute in America. In an interview with VICE, Cheng said that she was challenged with not only honoring the real Ah Toy’s life but also playing against the traps of one of Hollywood’s favorite and most harmful tropes about Asian women: the “dragon lady,” an Asian femme fatale who wields power through sex.

    I began the show a month after the Atlanta shootings, shortly after it was announced that the series would be renewed for a third season, on HBO Max. Given the heartbreak and impotence I felt, I wasn’t surprised to find myself drawn to Ah Toy, an Asian female character who seems fully possessed of her power as she navigates gender dynamics and a racist criminal justice system—power structures that are not only designed to oppress her but that render women like her entirely disposable. In the first season, when the police raid Ah Toy’s brothel as a means of signalling to its white citizens that it’s “cracking down” on Chinatown crime, she bribes the sergeant with a few calm words and a small red envelope. “A gift for Chinese New Year,” she says, meeting his gaze with an unflinching stare.

    Cheng told me that other Asian women have expressed being triggered by her character’s profession, which she understands. She said she had to overcome her own reticence about Ah Toy, but ultimately decided to lead with her character’s humanity. “I definitely feel a responsibility,” she said. “I think you’d have to be incredibly vacuous to be in my position and not.”

    Every character in Warrior contends with different articulations of power, said Shannon Lee, executive producer of the show and Bruce Lee’s daughter. “We’re presenting power when it gets out of control and the people who have to participate in that culture, who are the victims of that culture but who don’t think of themselves as victims,” she said. “They think of themselves as humans. They want what every human wants, and are fighting for it.”

    As violent as Warrior can be (and disquietingly close to our current reality), I have been enjoying getting to know these kaleidoscopic characters—people who reveal new sides of themselves with every power play. Even as I tense at the scenes of racist confrontation (in the opening two minutes of the series, a white immigration officer singles out a man disembarking from the boat, calls him “Ching Chong,” and knocks him to the ground), I can take cover in characters with the agency to defend themselves. I can see them fight, and I can see them win.

    “Catharsis is something that people need right now,” said Hoon Lee, who plays Wang Chao, a quick-witted black market arms dealer. “In the context of a show, you can experience—and, hopefully, exorcise—some of that rage that you might not know what to do with otherwise. That’s a primary function of storytelling.”

    Martial arts might be a safe bet for a Hollywood looking for low-hanging fruit when it comes Asian representation, but in this new slate of film and television shows, it’s also the Trojan Horse: a vehicle for Asian characters whose identities are as layered and complex as people are in real life. And while, yes, these bodies encounter brutal violence, they survive to experience what lies beyond it—joy, grief, rage, and humor together. In devastating times like these, we need storytelling that shows us that access to the full spectrum of human experience is possible—not just suffering.

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  7. #82
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    One of the BIGGEST sources of the emasculation of Asian men today actually comes from Asia. Look at the male K-Pop groups, as well as similar trends in other Asian countries (for one example, in China). The trends seem to be young men wearing more makeup and behaving more effeminate than the women. And like it or not, non-Asian Americans associate Asian-Americans with China/Korea/Japan, or wherever they assume Americans of Asian descent “are really from.” The mentality is, “If some present that way, they’re ALL that way.” Those overseas trends are certainly not helping the image of Asian-American males here, whether they follow those overseas trends or not.

  8. #83
    I might be mistaken, but I thought there have been a lot of movies with The Rock and Dave Batista made recently. They don't seem to fit a weak Asian stereotype. Bautista is Filipino descent and Johnson is Samoan descent. [edit] I forgot to add Keanu Reeves (Japanese descent).

    Anyway, Paper Tigers is a great movie because it's relatable to anyone who's practiced TCMA; especially anyone who had the pleasure of training during what I'd say is America's golden age of kung fu, the late 80s through the 90s.

    This quote is why Paper Tigers works for everyone and is a must-see movie for 2021,
    "Though it centers non-white experience, it doesn’t announce itself as such—not to the point of color-blindness, but in a way where cultural difference feels normal, and honored."
    Last edited by MightyB; 06-24-2021 at 06:11 AM.

  9. #84
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    Yeah, Paper Tigers sounds like a good one to see.

    Nobody counts Dwayne Johnson as Asian, and I highly doubt that he himself does. Many Pacific Islanders I’ve seen addressing the issue seem militantly opposed to the idea of them having any Asian connection at all, even though it’s obvious that human life didn’t just sprout up on the Pacific islands. There is even recent DNA evidence that Pacific Islanders originated in East Asia (Taiwan and the Philippines), at least. So while Dwayne Johnson may technically have Asian blood, that is not how anyone perceives him.

    I’m probably out of line posting this, but I may as well address the elephant in the room; that many Pacific Islanders hate being categorized together with Asian-Americans, considering themselves, their cultures, and their needs different. Guess what, folks? Asians are all different, too.
    Last edited by Jimbo; 06-24-2021 at 09:25 AM.

  10. #85
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    Pretty Boys

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
    One of the BIGGEST sources of the emasculation of Asian men today actually comes from Asia. Look at the male K-Pop groups, as well as similar trends in other Asian countries (for one example, in China).
    Here - ponder this...
    Exclusive Excerpt: The Deadly ‘Pretty Boys’ Who Were Korea’s Warriors and Assassins
    David Yi

    12 mins ago

    K-pop’s biggest male stars may be beauty gods but they’re hardly a new trend. While Korean pop stars may wear porcelain foundations, colorful eyeshadows, and blood-stained lips, there were men who walked — and worked — the earth centuries before. They were called the hwarang – literally “flower boys” aka “pretty boys” of Korea’s Silla dynasty – who sported crimson eye shadows, powdered faces, and slicked-back hair as a spiritual practice. These warriors were chosen for their beauty, as Silla’s king, Jinheung, believed beauty was power. In the excerpt below, we understand Korea’s rich history of beautiful men and how cosmetics, makeup, skincare isn’t a new phenomenon — beauty is literally embedded in the very culture. Here’s a history of the pretty boy warriors who were precursors for K-pop stars to thrive in our modern era.

    South Korea is now known as the beauty capital of the universe, and its men hold the title of world’s biggest cosmetics consumers. Korean men glisten and glow, their complexions plumped and hydrated, as if serums pump through their very veins. But to understand why Korean men today care so much about their aesthetics, we must look to Korea’s sixth-century Silla Dynasty, and to the hwarang. The hwarang—which roughly translates to “flower boys”—weren’t only some of the fiercest weapons-wielding, martial arts–practicing assassins in Asia. They would become legendary for their fight and their faces. Aesthetics, and the spirituality behind beautifying, were paramount to their ability to defend their kingdom for over two centuries . . . and to lead the way for generations of Korean beauty boys to come.

    Like all the Silla, the hwarang were devout followers of Maitreya, the future Buddha. Ancient texts say he manifested into human form to live among mortals as a lean, teenage pretty boy before the nation of Silla was formed. It was said that his look was so striking, all were awed by his presence. The kingdom of Silla awaited his return on Earth as Christians await the return of Christ: it is foretold that he’ll return to save humanity. Legend has it that when Maitreya’s physical form died, his spirit reincarnated into Silla’s soil to be reborn in the physical form of young men who resembled him. That meant that any young man in the aristocracy who happened to be pretty could also very well be Maitreya incarnate. Talk about winning the genetic—and spiritual—lottery!

    But Silla’s wily king Jinheung had big plans for those fated pretty boys. For years, the king had been testing his allies’ patience, slowly plotting to take over the entire Korean peninsula. The Korean nation had been split into three kingdoms for centuries at that point: Baekje in the west, Goguryeo in the north, and Silla, which occupied land to the east. King Jinheung had helped the Baekje reclaim their land from the Goguryeo, but quickly turned on the Baekje right after, breaking a sacred 120-year alliance. At the end of the war between Baekje and Silla, one that was years-long and tireless, Silla was left as vulnerable as ever. In his final days, King Jinheung was paralyzed by fear and consumed by paranoia. He knew his enemies were thirsty for revenge, and were after his people’s complete downfall.

    To keep his enemies at bay and his kingdom alive for centuries to come, King Jinheung needed power that none of his enemies had. He needed something supernatural, that Big Buddha Energy. Silla’s pretty boys were the only ones who could deliver, he thought. After all, the prettier the boy, the closer to god—and these men were packing!

    King Jinheung searched for every beautiful boy throughout the kingdom who came from true bone status. The search was methodical and swift (like, a few months swift!), and a year after his hunt began, in 576 CE, the hwarang was implemented as an official arm of Silla’s military. As detailed in the Samguk Yusa, a historic Korean record, these young men would immediately go through rigorous training that not only stripped them from their families, but demanded their excellence in all things physical, emotional, and spiritual.

    The hwarang trainees mastered martial arts, swordfighting, and hwarangdo (a specific style of martial arts created for the hwarang by Silla monks), horsemanship, stone throwing, archery, and javelin, as well as perfecting song and dance and memorizing religious texts. These “soft” skills allowed the men to become well-rounded warriors. Instilled with great discipline, each was also indoctrinated with Taoist, shamanist, and Buddhist teachings. Many became so devout that they even believed they’d encounter Maitreya before they died.

    And in true Maitreya fashion, it’s believed that the boys perfected their appearances as well—the closer they resembled Maitreya, the closer they would be to divinity. “They selected the handsome boys of the nobility and adorned them, powdering their faces and calling them Hwarang,” wrote an envoy for the Tang dynasty. “The people of the country all respected and supported them.”

    Unfortunately, there exists no information on the specific makeup they used, but we can look to the Chinese Tang dynasty, whom the Silla were influenced by, and make an educated guess. In historic texts, the Chinese detail face powder ingredients as being made of (lethal) lead, rice, and clamshell powder mixed together to create a thick, pearly foundation.

    In addition to face powder, modern scholars believe the hwarang would have used red eye-shadow to distinguish themselves as elite warriors, as well as appearing more intimidating during battle.

    The red dye the hwarang may have used on their eyes would have been created from safflower and red lily, and was also used by Chinese royals as a cheek, eye, and lip stain.

    Per the time period, their long hair may have also been hydrated with oil produced from apricot seeds and peach kernels (way fancier than St. Ives). Some hwarang are also depicted with pierced ears and beautiful clothing—when you’re already fancy, what’s a little more?

    When the hwarang officially made their debut, they became overnight sensations. Precursors to boy bands like NCT 127, The Boyz, or even BTS, who are now worldwide heartthrobs, they had tongues wagging all the way from Silla to China. As King Jinheung had once pre-dicted, his enemies would one day attack Silla. In the midsummer of 660 CE, the Baekje launched an attack against the Silla, which would become known as the famous Battle of Hwangsanbeol. But the hwarang, fighting together with the Tang army, would prevail against the Baekje, sending the enemy cowering. For over three hundred years, the hwarang would defend their borders from outsiders—without smudging their eyeshadow—until they, too, were overthrown by another power. In 935 CE, they surrendered in defeat to Korea’s last dynasty, the Goryeo, which would go on to unify the entire Korean peninsula. Though the hwarang were dissolved by the new power, their legacy wasn’t completely erased: the Goryeo government took pride in Silla’s past, and made attempts to celebrate hwarang history over the years.

    To this day, no one can deny how mystical and magical these “flower boy” warriors were. In contemporary Korea, the hwarang are still extolled for their bravery and celebrated for their beauty, and South Korea’s men’s beauty business leads the way for innovations around the world. Korean pop culture celebrates men’s beauty, from TV shows like OnStyle’s Lipstick Prince, a program that features male K-pop idols learning about makeup and putting cosmetics on each other, to K-dramas like 2016’s popular Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth, which cast K-pop’s biggest names and prettiest faces in the role of warriors, from BTS’s V to SHINee’s Minho. These are only some of South Korea’s contemporary flower boys, who some shamanists would argue possess the hwarang spirit, alive and well (and pretty!).



    Excerpt from PRETTY BOYS by David Yi, illustrated by Paul Tuller. Copyright © 2021 by David Yi. Illustrations © 2021 by Paul Tuller. Available June 22, 2021 from HMH Books & Media.

    About the Author: David Yi is the founder of Very Good Light, a site that has aimed to redefine masculinity through a beauty lens. Prior to Very Good Light, David launched fashion and beauty verticals at Mashable, reported for WWD, and was the fashion editor at the New York Daily News, in addition to writing for many other publications. He has received a GLAAD Award and two Webby nominations, and was named one of “25 People Changing the Beauty Conversation” in Marie Claire. “PRETTY BOYS” is his first book.

    I'm copying this off our Once-Upon-a-Time-in-Hollywood thread discussion to our Korean-arts-other-that-TKD thread, just for good measure.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  11. #86
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    Very true, Gene, I had heard of the Hwarang Warriors before.

    That said, today’s K-Pop groups are not a warrior society, and that feminine image does affect how Asian males are perceived by many people in the world, or it confirms long-held beliefs (i.e., as less manly than men from other races). Even though such men exist in all groups. Whether the K-Pop artists themselves really feel the way they’re presented, or are just doing it because it’s what’s expected of them and what their fans like.

    Keep in mind, I’m not bashing anyone for who they are. If that is someone’s thing, that’s great. Unfortunately, the stereotypical IMAGE of Asian men as being weaker, softer, and more passive than men of other racial groups in this day and age is not for no reason. Because it is the dominant image being presented. And many happily go along with it, because “ We’re finally getting representation!”

    It does appear that some changes *may* be slowly coming, but only time will tell if the changes continue or lose momentum.
    Last edited by Jimbo; 06-24-2021 at 09:48 AM.

  12. #87
    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
    Very true, Gene, I had heard of the Hwarang Warriors before.

    That said, today’s K-Pop groups are not a warrior society, and that feminine image does affect how Asian males are perceived by many people in the world, or it confirms long-held beliefs (i.e., as less manly than men from other races). Even though such men exist in all groups. Whether the K-Pop artists themselves really feel the way they’re presented, or are just doing it because it’s what’s expected of them and what their fans like.

    Keep in mind, I’m not bashing anyone for who they are. If that is someone’s thing, that’s great. Unfortunately, the stereotypical IMAGE of Asian men as being weaker, softer, and more passive than men of other racial groups in this day and age is not for no reason. Because it is the dominant image being presented. And many happily go along with it, because “ We’re finally getting representation!”

    It does appear that some changes *may* be slowly coming, but only time will tell if the changes continue or lose momentum.
    I have great respect for the strength and complexity of their K-Pop dance routines. They are some of the few workouts one can find today that are comparable to doing kung fu animal forms. I'm sure the Hwarang Warriors before their martial arts training were very similar, so that's why they could be trained in just a few months to be very effective fighters...

  13. #88
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    Go suck a d**k

    Quentin Tarantino tells critics of his Bruce Lee interpretation to 'go suck a d---'
    The director explains a controversial scene featuring a dramatization of the iconic action star from his 2019 Best Picture-nominated movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

    By Joey Nolfi June 30, 2021 at 09:52 AM EDT

    Quentin Tarantino isn't dodging blows when it comes to addressing his characterization of iconic action star Bruce Lee in the 2019 movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

    "I can understand his daughter having a problem with it. It's her f—ing father," the Oscar-winning filmmaker said on Tuesday's episode of The Joe Rogan Experience podcast, referencing critics who've called his brief depiction of Lee in a scene from the Best Picture-nominated film as a racist caricature. "Everybody else: go suck a d---."

    He continued, explaining that the scene — which sees stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) visiting Lee (Mike Moh) on the set of the Green Hornet TV show, and subsequently throwing him into a car during a physical matchup played for laughs — is "obvious" in its declaration "that Cliff tricked him. That's how he was able to do it; he tricked him."


    Quentin Tarantino defends his Bruce Lee depiction in 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.' | CREDIT: RICK ROWELL VIA GETTY IMAGES; SILVER SCREEN COLLECTION/HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES
    Tarantino stressed that the moment is fleshed out more in his new novelization of the film, and that Pitt's character deliberately manipulates Lee in a way that leads to the moment where the latter careens into a stationary car. He also cited Booth's past experience in the military as giving him a killer instinct that allowed him to calculatedly overthrow Lee's martial arts-inspired instincts.

    The Pulp Fiction helmer further described Lee's history in entertainment, expressing affection for him and what he calls a "disrespect for [American] stuntmen" working on his projects: "He was always hitting them with his feet, it's called tagging, when you hit a stunt man for real," Tarantino said, likening Lee's approach to the craft to fellow actor Robert Conrad (The Wild Wild West).

    However, Lee biographer Matthew Polly previously told Esquire that "Bruce was very famous for being very considerate of the people below him on film sets, particularly the stuntmen," and, with regard to Tarantino's depiction, "that's just not who Bruce Lee was as a person."



    After Once Upon a Time in Hollywood's release, Lee's daughter, Shannon Lee, told The Wrap that she was disappointed in the depiction amid other criticisms from the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar,

    "I understand they want to make the Brad Pitt character this super badass who could beat up Bruce Lee. But they didn't need to treat him in the way that white Hollywood did when he was alive," she told the publication, remembering the "uncomfortable" feeling of watching the scene in a theater as people laughed at her father.

    "He comes across as an arrogant ******* who was full of hot air," she said. "And not someone who had to fight triple as hard as any of those people did to accomplish what was naturally given to so many others."

    Watch video of Tarantino's appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience above.
    Way to stay relevant?
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  14. #89
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    Shannon slaps back

    Shannon Lee: Does Quentin Tarantino Hate Bruce Lee? Or Does It Just Help Sell Books? (Guest Column)
    As the director promotes the novelization of the 2019 film 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,' which was criticized for a scene depicting Bruce Lee, the daughter of the martial artist responds to comments Tarantino made to Joe Rogan.

    BY SHANNON LEE

    JULY 2, 2021 11:47AM

    From left: Mike Stone, James Coburn, Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee. COURTESY OF SHANNON LEE

    Amid Quentin Tarantino’s media tour to promote the new release of his novelization of 2019’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the director stopped by Joe Rogan’s Spotify podcast. During the June 29 interview, Tarantino was asked about the criticism over the film’s depiction of Bruce Lee — specifically, a fight scene in which Brad Pitt’s character, Cliff, easily knocks down the Lee character, portrayed by Mike Moh. Tarantino told Rogan: “I can understand his daughter having a problem with it — it’s her ****ing father, I get that,” before quickly dismissing others’ criticism.


    Shannon Lee, the daughter of Bruce Lee, was among those who had spoken out about the scene at the time of the film’s release. And, in response to a request for comment from The Hollywood Reporter on Tarantino’s remarks to Rogan, wrote the below column regarding the director’s characterization of the scene and other comments on the actual Bruce Lee.

    Why does Quentin Tarantino speak like he knew Bruce Lee and hated him? It seems weird given he never met Bruce Lee, right? Not to mention that Mr. Tarantino happily dressed the Bride in a knock-off of my father’s yellow jumpsuit and the Crazy 88s in Kato-style masks and outfits for Kill Bill, which many saw as a love letter to Bruce Lee. But love letters usually address the recipient by name, and from what I could observe at the time, Mr. Tarantino tried, interestingly, to avoid saying the name Bruce Lee as much as possible back then.

    If only he’d take the name Bruce Lee off his lips now.

    You can imagine by now that I am used to people only seeing one facet of my father and blowing that up into a caricature. That has been happening since shortly after he passed. But usually, somewhere in that caricature is some sort of nugget of love for the man and his work. Not so with Mr. Tarantino.

    As you already know, the portrayal of Bruce Lee in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood by Mr. Tarantino, in my opinion, was inaccurate and unnecessary to say the least. (Please let’s not blame actor Mike Moh. He did what he could with what he was given.) And while I am grateful that Mr. Tarantino has so generously acknowledged to Joe Rogan that I may have my feelings about his portrayal of my father, I am also grateful for the opportunity to express this: I’m really ****ing tired of white men in Hollywood trying to tell me who Bruce Lee was.

    I’m tired of hearing from white men in Hollywood that he was arrogant and an ******* when they have no idea and cannot fathom what it might have taken to get work in 1960s and ’70s Hollywood as a Chinese man with (God forbid) an accent, or to try to express an opinion on a set as a perceived foreigner and person of color. I’m tired of white men in Hollywood mistaking his confidence, passion and skill for hubris and therefore finding it necessary to marginalize him and his contributions. I’m tired of white men in Hollywood finding it too challenging to believe that Bruce Lee might have really been good at what he did and maybe even knew how to do it better than them.

    I’m tired of hearing from white men in Hollywood that he wasn’t really a martial artist and just did it for the movies. My father lived and breathed martial arts. He taught martial arts, wrote about martial arts, created his own martial art, innovated martial arts training, and refused to compete in martial arts tournaments because he believed combat should be “real.” He had no parallel as a martial artist. And I don’t think it’s a stretch to say he had no parallel as a martial artist on film, either.

    I’m tired of white men in Hollywood barely footnoting the impact he had on the action film genre and fight choreography, or the proliferation of and interest in martial arts he sparked globally, or the number of people and communities he continues to inspire and touch with his performances, philosophies, teachings and practices while casually downplaying how his accomplishments have lifted spirits and become a source of pride for Asian Americans, communities of color and people around the world, and how he accomplished all of this by the age of 32.

    And while we’re at it, I’m tired of being told that he wasn’t American (he was born in San Francisco), that he wasn’t really friends with James Coburn, that he wasn’t good to stuntmen, that he went around challenging people to fights on film sets, that my mom said in her book that my father believed he could beat up Muhammad Ali (not true), that all he wanted was to be famous, and so much more.

    And of course, this doesn’t apply to all white men in Hollywood; I’ve worked with some really wonderful collaborators and partners. But I’ve come across enough of them over the years (and not just in Hollywood) who want to mansplain Bruce Lee to me and use Bruce Lee when and how it suits them without acknowledging his humanity, his legacy, or his family in the process that a bit of a pattern has emerged. I’m also not saying that no one is allowed to have a negative opinion of Bruce Lee. I’m saying your opinion might be colored by personal or cultural bias, and that there’s a pattern. Just notice the pattern in all the people Mr. Tarantino cites in the case he builds against my father. Just saying …

    And I understand he died when I was 4, but I am still one of the very few people on this planet other than my mother who has met and spoken with most everyone who ever knew him (the promoters and detractors alike), who has read his extensive writings on all manner of subjects, gone through his personal daytimers and library, who has trained in Jeet Kune Do, who has childhood memories of him, and who knows what it was to be loved by him. I think I’m more of an authority on Bruce Lee at this point than most people, not to mention having looked after his legacy for the last 21 years.

    Look, I understand what Mr. Tarantino was trying to do. I really do. Cliff Booth is such a badass and a killer that he can beat the crap out of Bruce Lee. Character development. I get it. I just think he could have done it so much better. But instead, the scene he created was just an uninteresting tear-down of Bruce Lee when it didn’t need to be. It was white Hollywood treating Bruce Lee as, well, white Hollywood treated him — as a dispensable stereotype. But that was Mr. Tarantino’s creative device that he chose, so he initially claimed, though now he seems to be arguing that this is actually an accurate portrayal of Bruce Lee and is what would have happened if indeed Cliff Booth (a fictitious person) and the real Bruce Lee (if he were a mediocre, arrogant martial artist) had squared off. Whaaa?

    The fact that Mr. Tarantino espouses that my father could have been easily tricked by a fictitious character and would only really be a threat in a competition setting like Madison Square Garden speaks volumes about everything he does not know about Bruce Lee and JKD. But enough tit-for-tat.

    In closing, at a time when Asian Americans are being physically attacked, told to “go home” because they are seen as not American, and demonized for something that has nothing to do with them, I feel moved to suggest that Mr. Tarantino’s continued attacks, mischaracterizations and misrepresentations of a trailblazing and innovative member of our Asian American community, right now, are not welcome.

    Mr. Tarantino, you don’t have to like Bruce Lee. I really don’t care if you like him or not. You made your movie and now, clearly, you’re promoting a book. But in the interest of respecting other cultures and experiences you may not understand, I would encourage you to take a pass on commenting further about Bruce Lee and reconsider the impact of your words in a world that doesn’t need more conflict and fewer cultural heroes.

    Under the sky, under the heavens, we are one family, Mr. Tarantino, and I think it’s time for both of us to walk on.
    Well written, Shannon.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  15. #90
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing View Post
    Well written, Shannon.

    Agreed. She said it better than anybody else could have.

    As for QT, I still believe he is an excellent director. He makes good movies (well, most of them, anyway). Including Once Upon A Time in Hollywood. But he’s clearly an *******. It’s clear from his words and his inability to take justified criticism. It’s clear that he has a hard on for Bruce Lee (almost as much as he has for women’s feet), and is ultra-sensitive about being called out on it.

    So QT believes that Bruce Lee was an *******, but presents Sharon Tate as an angel. In fact, the Sharon Tate character was so cloyingly innocent and childlike, she was cartoonish and completely out of sync with a QT film, since virtually all of QT’s film characters are varying degrees of scumbags. I think Sharon Tate was QT’s only character in any of his movies who was truly innocent and good. I’m sure QT was so ridiculously kind to her character because she was murdered IRL, and she still has surviving relative(s), and he walked on eggshells to avoid any possible backlash. But I suppose he feels that Bruce is always fair game.
    Last edited by Jimbo; 07-03-2021 at 03:39 PM.

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