Tuesday, November 29, 2005

R.I.P., Pat Morita

Pat Morita, of "Happy Days" and "Karate Kid" fame, passed away on Thanksgiving.
The NYT has an obituary-ish editorial by Lawrence Downes, who makes the perfectly justified complaint that "it's distressing to think that the life's work of one of the best-known, hardest-working Asian-American actors is mostly a loose collection of servile supporting roles."
True, true.
He also claims that "[t]he movie and TV industry has never had many roles for Asian-American men, and it seemed for a while that they all went to Mr. Morita."
Au contraire, Downes! 
Obviously, Downes hasn't been paying attention to the pantheon of Asian-American B movie actors-- Victor Wong (of Big Trouble in Little China fame, also starred in Tremors and Joy Luck Club), James Hong (uh, also Big Trouble, among others, and that Seinfeld episode in the Chinese restaurant), and the always, er, identifiably Asian Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa (many movies best forgotten).
Pat Morita may be gone, but the hard-working Asian-American actors whose talents justify the inclusion of "Dragon," "Shadow," and "Emperor" in the titles of our B movies will live forever.  Metaphorically.

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