Popular Culture  •  June 28, 2001

Chow Yun-Fat

Is it just me or have you noticed it too? I now see a lot more couples where the man is Asian and the woman is white. This started happening about 3 years ago, especially among late teens and early twenties.

I have a theory: It’s all because of Chow Yun-Fat, or at least it started with him. Now we have Jet Li too. Bruce Lee made a substantial contribution, but he was never played a romantic character. Jackie Chan did not contribute much since he is goofy, and he feels decidedly foreign. Also, he was always with Asian girls in his movies. An Asian who caused the biggest damage was Gedde Watanabe who played Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles. Then came John Lone in “The Year of the Dragon”. He was cool, but still very foreign and unapproachable. And again, he was not a romantic character, and also he was the bad guy in the movie.

Chow Yun-Fat was the first to break those barriers. “The Replacement Killer”, for Asian men who want to score white women, was a landmark, ground-breaking, revolutionary movie, even though he never even kissed Mira Sorvino. He is the first romantic Asian hero in the history of Hollywood. As a testament to the power of Hollywood, the result is now seen everywhere around us.

Now I see several Asian-man-white-woman couples in a day. 10 years ago, seeing one a month was a lot. Back then, as a white woman, if you were going out with an Asian man, you were in essence going out with a Long Duk Dong. Now, he has been supplanted by Chow Yun-Fat, and that’s not a bad image, to be held in his strong arms with a powerful gun or sword. Thank you, Chow Yun-Fat.