Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Japanese as the villains
One arch that seems to run through many or most of these films, especially if they are about war or martial arts, is that of the patriotic Chinese underdog beating overwhelming odds to defeat foreign powers who want to oppress and embarrass the Chinese, mostly just because the foreigners are assholes for some reason. This is based to some degree on historical fact, but I find it disheartening how rarely decent foreign characters appear in these movies. Often there are few foreigners in the films at all, but invariably there is always at least one Western guy who is a jerk and some Japanese guy who is a jerk. Sometimes it's a group of Japanese guys or the Japanese army.
I was actually surprised that in Fearless there is an honorable Japanese martial artist who actually is a pretty nice guy, as opposed to his counterpart, the spineless Japanese ambassador who only seems to care about money and shaming the Chinese.
Anyway, I was just thinking about this recently. It reminds me a lot of how some American movies about the Revolutionary War portray the British as cruel and barbaric, or how the stock accent for evil guys in Scifi movies is usually British. The main difference is that eventually the U.S. and Britain became pretty good allies. Maybe we need to give China another hundred years or two, but somehow I doubt they're going to go sweet on Japan any time soon.