Dragon Boys, CBC mini-series premieres Sunday January 7
– inside scoop from Kwoi
CBC's Dragon Boys is the heavily anticipated drama about Chinese gang
life in the Vancouver/Richmond community. I first heard about the
project when my friend Jim Wong-Chu (Asian Canadian Writer's Workshop)
became one of the cultural consultants for the project. Jim was
excited, because this was the first time CBC or CTV was creating a
mini-series on Chinese Canadians. There would be lead roles and
story themes – not just supporting roles in side bar stories.
See the story in the Georgia Straight where Dragon Boys director talks
about the importance of having community counsultants filmaker Colleen
Leung and Jim Wong-Chu: http://www.straight.com/article/dragon-boys-shoot-for-truth.
Also check out what Jim wrote about Chinese Canadian history for the In Context section on the Dragon Boys website.
While this is all good. The next step will see CBC creating a
mini-series about multigeneration Chinese-Canadians beyond any
stereotypes of “typical immigrants,” “gang members,” and
“prostititutes.” Gee… maybe they will watch the upcoming CBC
Generations documentary on the Rev. Chan Yu Tan family – my seven
generation Chinese-Canadian family. see:
My friend Kwoi in Toronto sent out the following letter to friends
across the country giving people his personal view with some inside
scoops. With Kwoi's permission – here is his letter:
is airing this coming Sunday and Monday, Jan 7 and 8 at 8 pm to 10 pm.
Working closely with the Asian Community, Writer/Exec Producer Ian Weir
did a great job keeping it real, working with material outside his own
culture. It stars some of my TO friends Jean Yoon & Simon Wong.
Simon's character was especially real for me personally as I had
started a youth gang upon my early arrival in Toronto. We even called
ourselves “Nine Dragons” as there were initially nine of us from the
same hood in Kowloon (translates 9 Dragons). I started the gang as a
means of survival. I was constantly getting beat up after school by
trailer trash bullies. The same trailer trash that were portray in
Dragon Boys. My gang involvement strained my relationship with my dad
whose Baldwin St eatery was struggling with extortion threats from the
triad at the time. Watching the preview on Tuesday night was like
having my childhood flash me by.
The cast worked hard at keeping it real. The character of Chavy Pahn
was changed from Chinese to Cambodian to reflect current immigration
patterns, Stephanie Song, who had already been cast in the role, had to
learn to deliver her lines in Khmer. Byron also objected to his
character’s wife being changed to Chinese because he saw his character
as a banana who “grew up thinking he’s a white man, a guy who has never
dated Asian women.” Unlike most Hollywood depictions of Asian males as
de-sexualized monk like beings, it was refreshing to see the brothers
hooking up with White Woman on the big screen. Thanx Byron, Lawrence
& the Dragon Boys for “getting some” on behalf of the
It could have easily been another Asian exploitation flick like Year Of
The Dragon, with the dominant culture's set of assumptions about power
relationships and power structures which is completely skewed towards
the White perspective, but keeping it real with all the family &
human stories really made the piece into a Chinese Canadian Sopranos if
you will. Excellent performance from the cast including the amazing
Eric Tsang (the Asian De Niro) who my friend Jean Yoon got to slap
around for real.
The Canucks have been known to follow their American counterparts
politically as well as culturally. The Americans pass the Head Tax Law,
they follow. The Americans pass the Exclusion Act, they follow. The
Americans started the Japanese Internment, they follow. Finally,
they've initiated something positive for their American counterparts to
envy over. The American networks are in envy & amazement how an
all-Asian lead cast without any White leads can be made possible. This
would not have been a reality in the States. Now if we can only get our
own writers, producers & directors in there…
Dragon Boys is a dark & gritty right-between-the-eyes crime story.
Please check it out & forward this to anyone you think might enjoy
it. Oh heck…on 2nd thought, forward it to them even if you think they
might not enjoy it! Cheers!
Check out sites here