Festivals Reviews TV & Film

AAAFF 2014: review of “Awesome Asian Bad Guys”

Co-director Patrick Epino, also co-founder of National Film Society, stars in his web series "Awesome Asian Bad Guys." The cast also includes co-director/co-founder Stephen Dypiangco, actors  Al Leong, Tamlyn Tomita, George Cheung, Sapphire Steel, Randall Park, Yuji Okumoto, Aaron Takahashi, and Dante Basco. Image courtesy of sandwichjohnfilms.com
Co-director Patrick Epino (left), also co-founder of National Film Society, stars in his web series “Awesome Asian Bad Guys.” The cast also includes co-director/co-founder Stephen Dypiangco, actors Al Leong (right), Tamlyn Tomita, George Cheung, Sapphire Steel, Randall Park, Yuji Okumoto, Aaron Takahashi, and Dante Basco. Image courtesy of sandwichjohnfilms.com

If you grew up watching movies like “Die Hard,” “Lethal Weapon,” “Karate Kid 2” and “Better Off Dead,” chances are you’ve seen some awesome Asian bad guys kicking some major butt, only to die shortly after making their initial on-screen appearance. Although their parts are cut short, they leave a lasting impact on many people, such as Patrick Epino and Stephen Dypiangco.

Review by Taylor Boswell

Epino and Dypiangco, co-founders of the National Film Society, are the creative minds behind the up-and-coming web series “Awesome Asian Bad Guys.” The series is an action/comedy centering around two filmmakers (Epino and Dypiangco) trying to put together a crew of Asian bad guys from actions films out of the ‘80s and ‘90s so they can carry out a mission for the beautiful actress Tamlyn Tomita.

Although the series hasn’t yet been released online, it has made its rounds at multiple film festivals, including our very own Austin Asian American Film Festival, that was held this past weekend on Nov. 13-16. I had the pleasure of attending a viewing of this laugh-out-loud film at the Texas Union on the University of Texas campus, and let me tell you, I don’t regret it one bit.

Actor Yuji Okumoto and actress Tamlyn Tomita struggle in the web series "Awesome Asian Bad Guys." Image courtesy of caamfest.com.
Actors Yuji Okumoto and Tamlyn Tomita struggle in the web series “Awesome Asian Bad Guys.” Image courtesy of caamfest.com.

The story starts with Epino and Dypiangco, two best friend filmmakers trying to catch a break, then enters Tamlyn Tomita, a woman seeking revenge for the death of her twin sister, Pamlyn. (Yes, Pamlyn.) In order for the filmmakers to help her in her quest for vengeance, they must put together a crew of awesome Asian bad guys to defeat the menace known as Aaron Takahashi.

This leads the best friends on a manhunt for the Asian bad guys they grew up watching and aspiring to be, in order to take down the man who killed Pamlyn. They get together an interesting group of washed-up Asian bad guys, including a wuss, and a little girl who can strike fear into your heart if you try to eat her sandwich. They team up and create a perfect comedic mishmash that will leave you laughing out loud as these awesome Asian bad guys (and girl) show what it means to be awesome, Asian and bad.

If this viewing is any indication of what the web series is going to be like, then it is a can’t-miss for people who appreciate oddball comedy and action. It’s a perfect combination of laughter and spectacle at the trained-to-perfection kicks, flips, and even more tricks.

Dante Basco stars as one of the villains, alongside Aaron Takahashi. Image courtesy of laapff.festpro.com.
Actor Dante Basco stars as one of the villains, alongside Aaron Takahashi. Image courtesy of laapff.festpro.com.

Along with being extremely kick-ass, these actors can perform too. The main cast is composed of Al Leong, Tamlyn Tomita, George Cheung, Sapphire Steel, Randall Park, Yuji Okumoto, Aaron Takahashi, and Dante Basco. While these names may be new to you, many of them have been acting in films for many years. Although they are once again playing the role of the Asian bad guy, there are amazing facets to this web series that will set it apart from other films and television shows that feature Asian-Americans.

For one, the main cast of the show is composed entirely of Asian-Americans, which is significantly different from the majority of our media. Asian-Americans have little representation in mainstream media compared to white Americans, and even black Americans. The fact that this cast is composed of only Asian-Americans may even qualify it as a trailblazer for other shows and filmmakers out there who have an interest in Asian-American culture and media representation.

Another significant takeaway from this is that the Asian-Americans are not sidekicks to a white male or white female; They are not the co-stars or supporting actors; They are not the guy or girl that has three seconds of screen time. They are the show; They are the stars; The spotlight is on them. This has never been prominent in American or European culture for them, which is what makes this a significant turning point in the Asian-American community. It brings to light the little attention that Asian-Americans get when it comes to our American pop culture, and with knowledge of these inequalities, we, as people taking part in this culture, can help rectify it.

There is no exact date as to when the first season will premiere, but I can assure you that I will be refreshing their website regularly to ensure that I am there the moment it hits the web.

Everyone, hold on to your seats and sandwiches, because “Awesome Asian Bad Guys” is about to take you on a hilarious journey with an all-star cast of people who, this time, aren’t going to die after 30 seconds of awesomeness. HYAH!

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