In watching Balls of Fury again the other night I got to reflecting on how fearless a performer James Hong is. I sat there for a long time afterwards thinking about his body of work and I couldn’t believe it. Naturally one turns to the IMDB to verify such things, and he was in things I completely forgot about.
You know, some of the flicks he was in were not the greatest, but he was never, ever, bad in them. (Operation Golden Phoenix. Not a bad action flick, but he played his role dead on, South Beach Academy, played for yucks, but you still feel the emotional underpinnings of the part.) His work is sterling through out!
According to IMDB he has been in almost 350 works. He has portrayed, funny, evil, diabolical, dramatic, and the whole gamut of the human experience, and in ever single instance where I have seen him he was also believable. I can’t say that for most of those that share his craft.
He has been called one of the greatest Asian-American actors of our time, but the thing is I have a very hard time seeing any ethnicity at all. Sure it is obvious where his ancestry is at, but he doesn’t shove it thought you face. He is who he is. No hype. No insults to my intelligence telling me this is who he is. Unlike Will Smith who constantly makes a point of reminding of his ethnic origins even though it is pretty apparent to me.
Maybe it was because he didn’t come to the craft until later in life. After being born and raised in Minnesota, getting a degree in civil engineering and working in L.A. designing roads. I would love it one day if there was a James Hong Highway.
Now as an acting coach he is still paving the way for talent out there. Jeez… if I had a lick of talent in me I’d be a proud devotee of his schools!
I thank you Mr. Hong for your body of work and I look forward to everything you do in the future.