Volume 94, Issue 91

Wednesday, March 14, 2001


Students' films get a showcase

Film sends mixed message

TVO documnetary attempts to find Asian man

Buried Treasure

TVO documnetary attempts to find Asian man

Who is Albert Woo?
Directed By: Hunt Hoe

By Matt Pearson
Gazette Staff

Imagine if half the men in the world were invisible. According to documentary filmmaker Hunt Hoe, they already are.

Hoe's film, Who is Albert Woo?, airing tomorrow night at 10 p.m. on TVO, seeks to explore the stereotypes that pigeonhole Asian men in contemporary North American society. The fictional Albert Woo character is used as an archetype to explore the portrayal of Asian men as either warriors, docile servants or stoic fathers.

The film focuses on seven men, including Hoe himself. Combining a standard interview approach with some original storytelling techniques, Hoe introduces viewers to a Malaysian-Canadian jazz singer, a Japanese-Canadian stand-up comedian, a self-described "brown-queer-Muslim-boy," a Second World War veteran, a computer sales director happily awaiting his arranged marriage and martial arts mega-star Jackie Chan.

Throughout his numerous conversations with these men, Hoe attempts to break the ubiquitous code of silence, which he argues is the primary reason why Asian men seem invisible in society. He attempts to find Albert Woo and also explores the ongoing searches for identity and role models and compares the dating rituals of young Asian males and females.

This is perhaps the film's strongest moment. Hoe relies on his own dating experiences to explore the differences and commonalities between the genders. Furthermore, he considers the media's portrayal of Asians as it pertains to their gender. While Asian women, he asserts, are primarily viewed as delicate objects of desire, Asian men are portrayed as either blood-thristy warriors or cold, docile figures.

In the end, Hoe completes his personal journey of exploration and uncovers, or at least comes to terms with, his own Albert Woo.

The film successfully explores the issues at hand while offering substantial food for thought. It has an amatuer feel, with hand-held camera shots jarring at times and frequently taking away from the serious nature of the interviews.

Having said that, the interviews themselves are generally well executed. Hoe has the touch of an experienced journalist who is able to draw from his interviewees' honest and sincere revelations. His conversations with Jackie Chan are perhaps the most revealing, in part because Chan is quite familiar to North American audiences, yet still seems so far away.

For a population often considered invisible, Hunt Hoe's Who is Albert Woo? certainly goes a long way to seeing Asian men more clearly.

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Copyright The Gazette 2000