Asians in James Bond films: the best, the baddest and the bedded

by guest contributor Bryan Thao Worra, originally published at Tripmaster Monkey

james bond asiansWhen People magazine asked Daniel Craig to name his ideal Bond girl, he pointed to the Japanese American film producer at his side, his girlfriend Satsuki Mitchell. The chap sure knows how to dodge a bullet. Sadly, Mitchell’s not 007’s love interest in the latest release of the franchise, Casino Royale. But that doesn’t mean the British superspy exists in a whitebread world of international intrigue. No, Asians have been central to the 21 films, from evil genius Dr. No to Hong Kong masseuse Peaceful Fountains of Desire. Join us now for a look at the best, the baddest and the bedded.

1962: Dr. No

dr. no james bondWow. It’s “yellow peril” right from the start with Dr. Julius No, a brilliant Eurasian scientist, who describes himself as an “unwanted child of a German missionary and a Chinese girl of a good family.” Aren’t they all?He later became treasurer of the most powerful criminal society in China and escaped to America with $10 million in gold bullion. He specialized in atomic energy, a hobby that cost him both of his hands. Never one to let that sort of thing get him down, he replaced them with bionic ones. And bit the big one by getting boiled alive. A fat lot of good those robot hands did him.

The other notable Asian in Dr. No is Miss Taro, played by Zena Marshall, a Dr. No flunky working undercover at the Colonial Secretary’s office in Kingston, Jamaica. Her brilliant idea to help her boss is sleep with Bond until a nerdy professor can come along to kill that pesky 007. She ends up getting arrested instead. But this sets up a dynamic to be repeated throughout the series. Not quite a case of sisters doing it for themselves.

1964: Goldfinger

goldfinger james bondThe man with the Midas touch can afford to cart around the iconic Oddjob, a hulking brute played by Harold Sakata who flings around a mean bowler hat and can crush golf-balls to a fine powder. And he never got a bit of dialogue. In the novel version, he apparently also ate cats. Greeeat.

1967: You Only Live Twice

you only live twice james bondAnd twice is the only way to live, with Nancy Sinatra croaking out a drippy pseudo-Japanese tune that could only come from the 60s. The film opens up in a bedroom with Ling played by Tsai Chin. After some bedroom antics with Bond, Ling presses a button on the wall flipping the bed into an upright position with Bond still on it. She then lets in a couple of gunmen who assassinate Bond. They’re not promoting an idea of crafty backstabbing Asian dragon ladies here at all. The killing, of course, is staged in order to give Bond more freedom to complete his real mission, an entire film that boils down to a big ninjas vs. SPECTRE throw-down in a volcano. Also known as Austin Powers.Of course, logic necessitates Bond undergoing special surgery to make him look Japanese to uncover the bad guys. And sleep with his friend Tiger Tanaka’s best agents, like Kissy Suzuki, played by Mie Hama, who fell for one of the worst cases of yellowface since Charlie Chan.

Tiger Tanaka was played by the recently deceased Tetsuro Tamba. Tanaka is the head of the Japanese Secret Service in You Only Live Twice, aiding Bond in defeating Ernst Stavro Blofeld, using a team of ninja warriors he just happens to have readily on hand for just such an occasion.

Of course, there has to be an Asian bad guy in this film, and that’s Mr. Osato, played by Teru Shimada. The head of Osato Chemicals and Engineering, he’s also moonlighting for SPECTRE as a henchman of Dr. Evil, um, I mean SPECTRE #1, Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Unfortunately, his worst nightmare comes true: he’s shot by his own boss. Continue reading

links for 2006-11-28

Brand-new “Addicted to Race” episode out now (#49)!

by Jen Chau and Carmen Van Kerckhove

A brand-new episode of Addicted to Race is out! If you haven’t already, please subscribe to our podcast in iTunes. Click here to launch iTunes and subscribe today, it’s absolutely free.

teddy zee Carmen chats with movie producer Teddy Zee about the current state of representations of Asian-Americans in film and television. Zee is president of Ironpond, an entertainment company that bridges Hollywood and Asia. Previously, he was a top-level studio executive at Columbia and Paramount. He produced Hitch, Saving Face, The Pursuit of Happyness, and recently completed West 32nd.

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Duration – 25:21
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Racism as a face cream?

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

It’s not clear to me who the client is, but I saw this ad campaign mentioned on Adrants, produced by the ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi.

I guess the concept is that racism is like a face cream: the more you “apply” it, the uglier you become. You can see another version here and here.

Hmm… A for effort I guess, but aren’t they really trading in one set of prejudices for another? And pushing the same old beauty standard that’s shoved down our throats all day long? I mean, are these people really that ugly? Or just not up to model standards?

What do you think of the ad?

racism saatchi & saatchi

Comedian Sinbad weighs in on Michael Richards

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

I’ve always thought that Sinbad was corny as hell (maybe because I associate him with his parachute-panted self in A Different World) but he’s actually really on-point in this CNN interview about the Michael Richards incident.

And I think his suggestion that Richards should go to a comedy club on a Sunday night, a.k.a. black night, to speak directly to an audience, is a good one. Because doing a satellite interview on Letterman when no one can talk back at you doesn’t make you at all vulnerable.

Hat tip to Reappropriate!

links for 2006-11-27