Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by 2takesfrakes, Jan 14, 2014.
I'll second the call for Doc Savage.
I can see that.
Ah, gotcha. Definitely.
Wow...!!! What a surprise - I expected everyone to be like,
"What's this? Never heard of this, before," and I was going
to let you all in on this Secret Treasure! Here, you're already
fans of it ... except for Robbiesan, of course.
I haven't seen this movie in years but I recall enjoying it for the most part. Yes, it has some clunky/cheesy dialogue in some areas and, I feel, could have taken itself a little bit more seriously, but over all I think its better than the Batman movies of the same era (Pre-Batman Begins, that is). I liked Baldwin in the part and liked how they drew from both the Radio Show and Pulp Magazine versions of The Shadow, which co-existed, but were very different.
I always liked it, even though it does have a bit of an identity crisis, and is unsure of what tone to take.
Love the music score and the song, and Alec Baldwin was a good Shadow.
Besides, any movie with Ian McKellen and Tim Curry can't be all bad.
One thing that always bothered me was the prosthetic nose. Just can't stop staring at it when it's on screen, lol.
I liked that the film's protagonist was basically a former supervillain himself.
I saw this twice in the theaters--and love the soundtrack album, which is often on heavy rotation when I'm writing pulpy adventure scenes.
I saw it when it came out in the cinema but haven't seen it since. Liked it a lot at the time. The visuals were imaginative as was the way that The Shadow's voice was done. Baldwin made a much better Batman-esque hero than did Michael Keaton, IMHO.
I'm kind of a sucker for pulp era superhero movies - I also have a soft spot for The Phantom and the Rocketeer (even if the latter is based on a more recently-written but 30s-set character).
As Lone Magpie said, it was great to see Tim Curry and a pre-X-Men Ian McKellen onscreen together, but if I had a criticism of the film, it's that they didn't get enough to do.
If you'd read the links that I included, you'd see that throughout the history of Hollywood Asians have been depicted in dehumanizing ways as well as being relegated to minor roles, and often by using yellowface where white or other actors would portray asians.
Can you imagine an asian donning makeup to play a white or black character? You'd find it absurd, and as it removed those actors from the equation, meant an inability for them to find work and to represent the characters in an authentic manner.
Worse, during the 30s period, the fear of the Yellow Peril was formost in the minds of Western civilization. During that period, characters like Fu Manchu were created to please audiences of the day, and allow them asians as sterotypical dehumanized villians.
Even within this decade, the practice of yellowface and the appearance of those sorts of asian villians persists. The link provides numerous evidence of the practices, much to the intense dislike of asians.
It's not just a retrospective on the 30s and characters, but also some of the worst excesses of American culture. You ignore that, wave it away, because it makes you uncomfortable.
If Asian actors are expected to speak in halting accents even in the 21st Century, then how will there ever be any equality? The things that are inserted within those productions are so abhorrent, and at a time of increasing demographics of asian births in America as well.
You all would be appalled to hear an African-American speak in such a manner, but it's perfectly acceptible for yellowface and/or sterotypical villanous asians to continue to be seen, while simultaneously shaking your head about the bigotry of your grandfather's generation.
The irony is profound.
Who is in yellowface in The Shadow?
Yellowface is the most frequent way of depicting Fu Manchu characters in film. It usually is a white actor portraying the asian villian.
In The Shadow, it's played by John Lone, a Chinese actor. It still recalls the worst problems of the Yellow Peril, besides making him speak ridiculously.One gathers only Asians have this persistant accent difficulty. Which is extremely odd as few in my family have anything close to that kind of accent.
"On the downside: the movie kept the old pulps’ “yellow peril” vibes in the form of bad, almost racist Asian stereotypes. Gah."
"One of the film’s brightest spots is Hong Kong-born actor John Lone, who plays the film’s Big Bad Shiwan Kahn, a descendant of Genghis Kahn who possesses the same powers as The Shadow and is (of course) bent on world domination. Shiwan Kahn could easily be nothing more than a depressing Yellow Peril stereotype, but Lone makes the absolute most of the role, bringing wry humor and considerable charm to what could have been a thankless part."
"While one might excuse the appearance of this ``yellow peril'' villain in a pulp-fiction commodity half-a-century old, it seems odd that a present-day Hollywood studio would produce a racially charged story that pits its handsome white hero against a horde of monstrous ``Mongol warriors.'' There's nothing subtle about this attempt to exploit racial stereotypes in the guise of old-fashioned fun."
"Not only is did the movie Shadow train in Asia, but his Yellow Peril arch enemy dresses up like a medieval Chinese knight. John Lone is an interesting actor but he was totally laughable as the last Khan, a mini-supervillain in a totally stupid mini-supervillain suit. And giving him a prefrontal lobotomy at the end was not funny, not justice, not interesting."
It is by no means only my opinion, but the opinion of many critics that The Shadow features this best forgotten anachronistic villian type.
THE SHADOW is just trying to be excellent popcorn fare and it succeeds at it, wildly. It's not perfect, by any means, but it's almost a tribute, in a sense, to The Golden Age of Hollywood. That style is all up in it and it's an incredibly charming and enjoyable picture, as a result. I think what I like most about The Shadow is that he's not locking himself in a big dungeon and reliving a childhood tragedy, whenever he isn't out stopping crime. He's a Playboy ... a Lady's Man. What a refreshing change of pace, even in these times, after all of the BatMan and SpiderMan flicks. This is a Superhero who isn't afraid to enjoy the finer things in life.
The Shadow is proto-Batman. It has to viewed through that lens. It's not that the idea of the Shadow is bad, it's that the pulps of the day, and later radio, used one-dimensional derogatory villians.
Stylistically it's an homage to that period. It is by no means a good movie, but mildly entertaining. I don't know of any film critics who have it on their must see list. As a cinema fan, watching films like this, as well as older material from which it was derived, makes you a better film afficianado.
I think you'll find my posts most often discuss cinema from that background. Some films stand alone, but usually when they did original things and so became masterpieces.
See it only if you have nothing better to do. Or if you wish to see the history of film.
Excellent post, Robbiesan! A very good read, sir ... thoughtful, in fact.
Another one who thinks of it as a favourite film. Mulcahy is very hit & miss with his films, and this wasn't bad. The script needed an extra pass, maybe two - the story was a bit schizophrenic as it tried to shoehorn many things in. Baldwin was an excellent choice, conveying real menace. The female lead I could take or leave, she didn't spark that much with me as I remembe rit (must watch it again soon). The music is fantastic, better movie theme than Batman.
What The Shadow's writers should have done, is modernize the story in the manner of The Saint.
That was a far better film.
Indiana Jones had pretty much covered earlier action heroes from serialized pulps.
Niether the Saint movies nor the TV series were period pieces they were set in the time the movies and TV series were set in. Modernizing The Shadow really wouldn't work, The Shadow's real name was Kent Allard who actaully got his powers from a South American tribe, Lamont Cranston was one of his many aliases.
The movie had to straddle the line between the pulp fiction books and the radio show. And Shiwan Khan lasted for four books from what I understand. Sam Raimi was going to make a new movie but as of 2012 they didn't have a script yet. There's a certain novelity to setting the movie in '30s, just there'd be for making a Doc Savage movie in that time period, setting it in modern times wouldn't as extraordinary in my mind. the modern Sherlock series have the same problem in my mind, in his own Sherlock is original and special, now there's people who grow up wanting to be detectives.
Then again, both Sherlock and Elementary are very good and unique takes on the original character.
I do think any new big movie version of the character would have to loose the whole large nose thing, for much the same reason Superman lost the trunks. It just looks silly.
How can a Chinese actor playing an asian character be yellowface? I grant you that he is playing a stereotypical "evil asian" in the film, but he is playing a Mongolian in the 1930s...why would you expect the character to have perfect english diction? John Lone's own true accent still conforms to what people would normally consider "asian with english as a second language". (And at what point is "the evil asian" thing not a problem? Is any asian character who dresses, speaks, or presents themselves with any asian influence a yellow peril character by default? What about, say...the businessmen in Rising Sun? This is just an aside, I'm not arguing that Shiwan is presented in this way.)
A friend of mine doesn't have that kind of accent either, but his brother does.
I'm sure there were just as many (if not more) critics who never even mentioned it. But I'm assuming they would be discounted due to their perceived ignorance.
And I realize it might seem to some that I am somehow defending or advocating racism. I'm not. I only jumped on the 'yellowface' thing due to not recalling any actors wearing yellowface in The Shadow. If I am ignorant on any point, please take it as a willingness to be set straight, not willful ignorance.
Is Mola Ram not as much of a yellow peril character as Shiwan Khan?
Separate names with a comma.