Taken 2 came out this past weekend, giving me a good excuse to talk about the original. What, you say? There was nothing Asian or Asian American about that movie? Just a middle aged white dude beating up Europeans to save his amazingly white American daughter? Exactly my point. David Edelstein said it better than I can, and he said it in a much more timely fashion:
The script, by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, panders to macho American wet dreams that feel distinctly antiquated in the new age of American non-exceptionalism. And in a just universe, the idea that rich white American virgins are the prime targets of sex-slavers would make tens of thousands of captive underage Asian girls rise up shouting, “That is the last straw!”
I know! Liam Neeson embodied American machismo, and Maggie Grace embodied American naivete, but the movie was such a thrill. I want to say that I’m not interested in such an obvious ploy to refocus the sex trade and make it more… whatever the word is to describe why Hollywood likes casting white people even when people of various races could play the part just as well, if not more accurately. But I really enjoyed Liam Neeson playing an aging tough guy. We have to draw the compromise somewhere, right?