I’m so excited to talk about this movie. I learned of this production through various Korean entertainment websites that I frequent. I was more than curious about it and couldn’t wait to check it out.
Ktown Cowboys, directed by Daniel Park, is described as a coming-of-age movie, but it’s more like an “adulting is hard” movie. Essentially it’s the live action counterpart of a web-series about a group of friends who are wading through the last remnants of immaturity as they finally begin to accept responsibility for their lives.
It sounds deep, but it’s not. In fact, it was hilariously awkward and frank. If you have ever seen 21 & Over, this movie is basically showing you the life of the Asian kid after college if he were Korean and his friends were also Korean. Completely the opposite of 21 & Over though, the whole Ktown Cowboys movie shows the Asian person that the movie is actually centered around.
In fact, practically the entire cast is Asian. Best thing is they are not the stereotypical Asian roles. Park was bold and artful in his approach at illustrating real life for Koreans in America. He crushed the “model minority” stereotype with excellent swiftness and replaced it with a full frontal attack of genuineness. The glimpse into some of the customs unique to Korean culture and the honest struggle to remain connected to their heritage through language and traditions is priceless.
Even though it’s wrapped in laughter, it’s also a celebration of culture and a testament of adaptation.
Ktown Cowboys stars Danny Cho, who also wrote the film. He is joined by Shane Yoon, Sunn Wee and Peter Jae. Did I mention that one of my favorite musicians is also a cast member? Introducing Bobby Choy a.k.a Big Phony, y’all. I had the pleasure of meeting Bobby earlier this year and I must say he was the perfect choice for his role. Particularly the dance and host bar scenes have me seeing him in a whole new light (wink, wink). All four cast members were comfortable and convincing in their respective roles. Shane was leader of the pack in a sense because he played the money man. I’m betting that his million-dollar smile contributed greatly to that image.
Sunn Wee and Danny were the relaxed friends, but Danny played an up-and-coming comedian. I’ll admit I was surprised by this. How often do you see this even in real life? Exactly…but he pulled it off. As a matter of fact, I was cracking up at him most of the time. Peter Jae was the brawn, not so much the brain. Again, I was surprised. Not because he wasn’t depicted as smart but because I had no idea all of that was under that black tee. I just wanna that God and Jesus for inspiring Daniel Park to film this scene with such beautiful lighting.
I had to rewind several times and grab a glass a wine. While these guys are nothing short of impressive, having the insanely handsome Daniel Dae Kim playing a rough and tough role nearly did me in. And of course, the Ken Jeong cameo was absolutely golden. Ken is also an executive producer for the film, so that should tell you that it doesn’t fall short on laughter in any way.
In addition to the wonderful surprise of seeing Big Phony, being able to witness such a momentous shift in the literal visual appeal of movies today will no doubt be a cherished memory for me. As a Black American, I know all too well how rare it is to see people of color portrayed in a positive, realistic light in American film and TV. Even still, in recent years, movies and television shows written and directed by Blacks have continued to become more and more prevalent in the American industry. These movies are more likely to feature a cast that I can relate to visually and culturally while being less likely to play up stereotypes and silly ideas of what our culture and experiences are like.
The same cannot really be said for my peers in the Asian community. Aside from the model minority stereotype, the nerdy, emasculated and unattractive stereotypes are typically overused when casting Asians in Hollywood. It doesn’t take a genius to know that all of those are far from an accurate depiction of what Asian men in America and around the world are truly like. That’s why I appreciated watching Ktown Cowboys more than anything. It’s forcing the world to accept the truth and change the way Asians are portrayed in film and TV. Asian men, as Ktown Cowboys has undoubtedly proven, are not only intelligent. They are strong, powerful protectors.
They are multifaceted and dynamic. Moreover, they are sexy as hell. Ken Jeong’s TV series, Dr. Ken, along with Aziz Ansari’s Master of None, have already begun changing these images and Ktown Cowboys is continuing the work. I believe that this movie is going to be instrumental in changing the game for Asian American cinema going forward. You may have guessed by now that I really liked the movie. I had no expectations going in. So realizing there was a huge smile on my face during the credits was a pretty good feeling. This movie deserves more play. I hope that it gets the recognition it deserves.
Great job, guys. I’m looking forward to what you do next. Favorite line: “Oh no, it’s ok. I’m a professional Jacket-taker-offer.”