Asian American Movies

Today I'm focusing on movies that feature Asian Americans as main characters in the storyline. Note I'm don't have any movies that feature AAs in the stereotypical Token Asian role (you know what that is)

What are some of your favorite movies that feature Asian Americans (must be Asian AMERICAN - movies like Crouching Tiger don't count)?

Plot synopsis taken from Wikipedia, Amazon and IMDB.

American Pastime - Powerful story about the dramatic impact WWII had in the home-front as Japanese American families were uprooted from their every day lives and placed into internment camps in Western US in the early 1940's. Faced with a country that now doubted their loyalty and struggling with their new situation, they turn to baseball as a way to handle their plight and find the strength to stand up for themselves becoming a true symbol of honor and pride.

Shanghai Kiss - Liam Liu (Ken Leung), a Chinese American actor living in Los Angeles unwittingly gets involved with a high school girl. He suddenly has to go to China after learning from his father that he has inherited his grandmother's home in Shanghai. He's not very appreciative of his Chinese roots and at first only wants to sell the house and get back to the U.S. as fast as possible. He gets a taste of the Chinese culture after meeting a girl there and ends up having some big decisions to make.

The Debut - An award-winning English language film for the whole family, "the Debut" revolves around Ben Mercado (Dante Basco), a talented high school senior who has rejected his Filipino heritage. The long-simmering feud between Ben and his immigrant father Roland (Tirso Cruz III) threatens to boil over and ruin the 18th birthday party of Ben's sister Rose (Bernadette Balagtas). But to Ben's surprise, his sister's celebration challenges his sense of misplaced identity, and the way he regards his father and grandfather (Filipino film legend Eddie Garcia). In one night, Ben faces the true nature of his relationships with his family, his friends, and himself.

Filipino-American high school student Ben (Dante Mercado) works in a comic book shop to earn money to pay his way into Cal Arts. His father, a postman, is determined that his son--who has won a pre-med scholarship to UCLA--will become a doctor. The eighteenth birthday party of Ben's sister, Rose, sets off a comedic and touching series of events and family struggles that will in turn determine young Ben's future. This fresh independent production from Gene Cajayon presents a lighthearted and warm coming-of-age tale filtered through the eyes of an American subculture rarely seen on film.

Flower Drum Song - A Chinese woman and her father illegally enter San Francisco to marry her fiance. While in San Francisco, she meets another man and falls deeply in love with him and the American way of life; to her father's disapproval.
The Namesake - In 1977, Ashima, a young Bengali woman, accepts Ashoke's marriage proposal. He's a student living abroad, so after the marriage she accompanies him to New York, where their temporary residence becomes permanent. We see her navigate and adapt to this alien land. They name their son Nikhil, with the pet name of Gogol, after Ashoke's favorite writer. We watch Gogol grow up American with roots he only begins to appreciate when he visits India in his 20s. A family death hastens his coming to terms with his name (and his roots) and Ashima's determination of where she will live once she has a choice
Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle - Harold Lee and Kumar Patel are two stoners who get the munchies and embark on a quest for White Castle burgers after seeing a TV commercial for the same. On their way they encounter many obstacles, including a gang of skate punks, a raccoon with attitude, a group of Asian nerds, an unlikely married couple who are Jesus freaks and sex seekers, a racist police officer, a cheetah on the lam from a zoo, and an out-of-control Neil Patrick Harris .

The Joy Luck Club - Four older women, all Chinese immigrants living in San Francisco, meet regularly to play mah-jong, eat, and tell stories. Each of these women have adult Chinese-American daughters. The film reveals the hidden pasts of the older women and explores cultural conflict and the relationships between mothers and daughters. The film is structured as a series of vignettes told from the perspectives of the different women

Better Luck Tomorrow - Ben is a perfectionist and overachiever whose tunnel vision leads to nothing less than graduating at the top of his class. As he struggles to achieve social success, he discovers his darker side. He and his friends: Virgil, Daric and Han lead a double life of mischief and petty crimes to alleviate the pressures of perfection. As their adopted identity grows, the gang tumbles into a downward spiral of excitement, excess and fun.


  1. Harold and Kumar--BEST MOVIE EVER. And somehow I've never seen Flower Drum Song and I live in San Francisco. Thanks for the tip. I'm putting it in my NetFlix queue now.


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