From L to R: George Cheung, Stephen Dypiangco, Jasmine Currey, Partrick Epino, Tamlyn Tomita, Al Leong and Randall Park
The 30th Annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival kicks off today, featuring a variety of films and shorts programs from now until May 11, where National Film Society filmmaking duo Stephen Dypiangco and Patrick Epino will be hosting their brand new series, Awesome Asian Bad Guys.
The series began its active development, crowdfunding and subsequent production within the last few years, rooted in genuine appreciation and love for classic action movies and their memorable beloved unsung heroes – the Asian villains. According to co-director and co-star Dypianco, the series has already garnered major approval among viewing audiences since the series premiered earlier this year at CAAM Fest 2014. “We’ve been really happy with the reception thus far,” says Dypiangco. “Audiences have responded very positively to the project overall and how we’ve brought it to life.”.
This week, in light of the upcoming events at LAAPFF, the National Film Society released its brand new poster for the series which you can check out below, in addition to the festival synopsis written by Abraham Ferrer.
The official poster for AWESOME ASIAN BAD GUYS: Top row (L to R) Randall Park, Yuji Okumoto, Tamlyn Tomita, Al Leong and George Cheung/ Bottom row (L ro R):Dante Basco, Stephen Dypiangco, Patrick Epino and Aaron Takahashi
The “fourth wall” comes crashing down, in a BIG way, in AWESOME ASIAN BAD GUYS, the brainchild of internet sensations Patrick Epino (VOID, Festival 2005) and Stephen Dypiangco. Having met nearly four years ago during Festival Week 2010, Epino — an alumnus of San Francisco State University’s Cinematic Arts program and Visual Communications’ own Armed With a Camera Fellowship — and NYU Film School graduate Dypiangco established the online destination, The National Film Society, as a means of promoting face-to-face dialogue with Asian Pacific American independent and mainstream entertainment professionals on all things pertinent to APA cinema.
As the film starts, our loveable, awkward duo wrap up yet another installment of NFS for upload. Only problem is, the episode is ruined when a trespasser somehow walks through the living room door and photo-bombs the shoot. The interloper turns out to be none other than veteran actress Tamlyn Tomita, who avails upon the guys to assemble a team of veteran Asian American bad-guy actors for the purpose of avenging a dastardly wrong, executed by one Aaron Takahashi (Aaron Takahashi), the leader of the ruthless Wang Chung crime syndicate. Unfortunately, the motley crew of “legendary” Asian American heavies they put together — Al Leong, Yuji Okumoto, George Cheung and Randall Park (whose sole purpose seems to be the “useless” and not-quite-awesome Asian Bad Guy) — can’t stand each other.
Filled with a rapid-fire string of in-jokes and stereotypes turned on its collective heads, this rollicking send-up of just about every kind of genre and schlock-cinema beloved by our NFS heroes plays it strictly for laughs. Oh yes, every obligatory KARATE KID 2 reference, every DIE HARD throw-away line, every fake ROCKY training sequence, and so much more are crammed into the film, courtesy of a screenplay by award-winning writer/producer Milton Liu (JESUS HENRY CHRIST, Festival 2004). It’s hard to imagine that AWESOME ASIAN BAD GUYS was created as a six-episode web series — with a story so deliciously dopey, implausible, and just-plain silly, why couldn’t this heartfelt effort be enjoyed on the big screen first?
Things are still early for Dypiangco and Epino as they are currently inquiring about more festivals to showcase their work, while looking for distribution partners to help release the series to the public this year, preferably as soon as possible. In the meantime, while funding for the first season did have its fair share of challenges, Dypiangco insists there is still interest in doing a second season, but not without proper discretion. “We’ve talked about crowdfunding for any additional seasons, but we haven’t decided on that yet,” he says. “While crowdfunding was incredibly rewarding allowed us to get Awesome Asian Bad Guys, it was also a super intense and draining experience that we wouldn’t just jump back into without carefully thinking it through.”.
As for potential season two casting hopefuls, Dypiangco tells Film Combat Syndicate the following: “We’re certainly interested in continuing Awesome Asian Bad Guys beyond this first season, but we haven’t started reaching out to more bad guys just yet. Our bad guy wish list includes Bolo and Cary Tagawa for sure. And we’d love to work with bad girls like Kelly Hu and Maggie Q.”.
Awesome Asian Bad Guys will make its way to LAPFF on May 3 and May 7. You can learn more about the series, the festival and the current programming line-up at the official website. Watch the official series teaser below and get your tickets now!
*Special thanks to Stephen Dypiangco for answering my questions, and to Melanie-Anne Padernal for reaching out!