Film Review

The Last Emperor Dir Bernardo Bertolluci

Hong Kong/GB/ 1987

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He was three years old when he ascended the throne and made history. Yet, his life was controlled by others and he was a puppet for the 6 years of his reign.

The Last Emperor is an incredible story. First off, when did any other film attempt, let alone succeed in trying to depict some of the most turbulent years of Chinese history?

As well as being a historical epic, the film is intimate, full of lovely touches and gentle humour. Bertolluci’s direction is masterful. Witness the key scene in the ballroom where the Emperor (newly made the ruler of Japanese state Manchuko) is watched from the sidelines by his embittered wife the second consort Wen Hsui, who in a scene of increasing tension, sits stuffing flower petals into her mouth. As we watch, the camera swoops, glides and moves along with the rhythms of the Emperor Waltz.

From left: Joan Chen, Vivian Wu, John Lone

As the film moves on to the next phase of Pu Yi’s life, we see him in prison as the country of Manchuria is controlled by Russia after there Second World War. As the film ends, Pu Yi is freed from prison, just as the Red Guards are bringing in a new phase of Chinese rule.

The final scene is full of irony. The Forbidden Palace, where the Emperor spent the first years of his life in splendid isolation is now a tourist site. A small boy frees himself from the group and climbs on to one of the thrones. Pu Yi watches him and hands him a a container. Curious, the young boy opens it. Out climbs a grasshopper, presumably the same that the Emperor was given when he was crowned. Chinese politics will always change, but the soul of the country – as shown by the grasshopper- will endure.

Restaurant review Jin Go Gae

With over 20 restaurants serving Korean food in New Malden, finding the right one can be difficult. Following the crowds leads you to Jin Go Gae, which is away from the hight street along an unprepossessing road off the A3 fly-over.

Don’t let the destination fool you – this is a great restaurant.

We started with an incredible kimchi pancake which combined delicate pieces of cabbage with the lightest of batters. each slice was dipped into a bowl vinegar and soy sauce condiment. The pancake was luscious, and so light.


Three bowls of banchan were brought out. We had seasoned bean sprouts, a dish of sliced kimchi and a terrific potato salad with chunks of potato and cucumber in a sweet mayonnaise sauce.

I wasn’t sure we would have much room for barbecue but somehow we did. The kalbi was sliced long-ways and laid down carefully on the hot metal grill under which hot charcoals were laid in a cauldron laid into the table.

We ordered squid too, which cam unwarranted. We dipped it into samjjang sauce and then we wrapped it up in lettuce leaves.

If you come here regularly the waitresses will start to recognise you and remember you as though an old friend.

Groups of contented Korean families sat eating happily opposite us and smaller tables were to the back of the restaurant. As we finished, there was a queue of people already waiting outside. At the front of the restaurant a group of young adults were celebrating someone’s birthday. It was busy but not somehow not noisy. This place is perfect for a friendly meal, and at other times during the week this would be an ideal date spot.



Food 4.5/5

Service 4/5

Ambience 4/5



On Yellow Fever

These days you can’t get anywhere with out someone being called out for having yellow fever. Lets talk about what it means honestly, without resorting to ugly name-calling that usually comes out of discussions around this subject.

The term’s been around for a while and is similar to the derisory term Jungle Fever to describe white women who are attracted to black men. That term has largely disappeared but the term Yellow Fever has really sunk in and become a well-known term not used exclusively by Asian women, although most of them are no doubt aware of the phenomenon.

Let’s be 100% clear on one thing: the Inter-racial Asian/Caucasian couples which are so frequent these days are the total opposite of the cliche of the THAI bride (typically married to an older western man, usually unattractive and with limited options),since the women are from the same backgrounds, similarly educated, etc. Unfortunately, people still have the idea that western men are exploiting so-called submissive Asian women?

Unfortunately the submissive Asian woman is largely a result of Confucian culture in which women are raised to respect men and follow orders from them. No doubt there are some men who will find this behaviour attractive and this may be the reason why they are more taken by Asian women.

It must be admitted here that many men find American society to be incredibly rights based and libertarian. you can’t say or do anything without someone being offended. This has truly had a terrible effect on relationships, with 1 in 3 marriages ending in divorce.

I’d be prepared to bet that most women in modern inter-racial relationships are more intelligent and better-educated than their western male partners. Far from being submissive, most Asian women are very assertive, they simply have a different approach to dealing with say, their frustration and anger than most other women do. I don’t now how effective shouting is but most kinds of women still feel that this is the way to deal with relationship problems.

I’ve been spending time with Asian women for the last few years. I guess success breeds success because I’m making more and more friends with girls who happen to be Asian women. The thing is I know what I’m dealing with and it’s all very reassuring for me. I find that these women enjoy the same things I do and we are culturally similar in spite of being from very different countries I did some internet research on ‘yellow fever’ and it seems most people using it are some women who feel that men shouldn’t be attracted to them. And yet, what is a man supposed to do? When I was younger, I was attracted by blonde women who had large breasts (because this was what society held up as a beauty ideal). So I went after these women, even though I was disappointed when I found out that they weren’t what I had expected.  In life, you must go after what you want in order to be happy. Being around these women makes me happy and I’m in no mind to stop, despite what some people would no doubt put down to an unnatural fixation.

According to an article on the Harvard Crimson, ‘There is nothing wrong with being a white man who is attracted to Asian women. Many times, it is a subconscious desire that you can’t really control anyway.’

And the article was written by an Asian women, Nian Hu,

So there you have it.

Diary of a romance, part 10

Its been 6 months since I’ve been going out with Miho and I’m very happy that we’ve made it this far.

Unfortunately Miho is going back to Japan next month because her visa runs out. August is flashing before me like a red light. I can’t believe I’m going to say goodbye to this lovely woman I’ve been spending so much time with.

I’m not normally an emotional person but lately I’ve been tearing up at the thought of Miho leaving. I try to avoid talking about this with Miho but it’s becoming harder and harder.

The only possible option I can see for us is that I go to Japan and possibly work out there whilst living with Miho. I’ve got no problem with living abroad. I think England is going downhill so fast these days, and I don’t feel any great reason to stay here.

Of course there is the option of marriage, but I’m not ready for that level of commitment right now. I’ve always thought of marriage as something you do when you’re older and I’m still trying to figure out who I am right now.

We’re very alike, so much so that I’m surprised our sameness doesn’t cancel itself out.  We’re both born in Summer, we like black coffee and tend to find the same movies enjoyable. If I hate a movie it’s likely to be the same for Miho, so that’s the problem of choosing something to watch avoided. We like the same music and we both like pancakes for breakfast. Miho talks in her sleep and I occasionally sleep walk (although I haven’t done so for years). We far more similar than our cultural differences would suggest. I guess we’re soulmates.

She is totally human in a way that none of my other girlfriends have been. If she is sad she cries. If she is unhappy (although seldom the case) it registers subtly. If something is funny she shows that it is funny by laughing. She feels all the human emotions but with no of the falseness and obscuration. Maybe she is the one……..


My thoughts on Margaret Cho and Ali Wong

Recently I have watched two live stand up comic shows by well known American female comediennes who both have Asian ethnicities. I don;t normally enjoy watching   full-length stand-up acts. I find them to be very self-indulgent. However, being a lover of anything Asian, I felt I had to give them a try.

Ali Wong is known for being the main writer on the show Fresh off The Boat (which I personally really enjoy watching). The show is notable for being a  American  to be centred around Asian people. The crossover between Ali and Margaret is that Cho was the very first Asian actress to have had starring role in an American sitcom about the clash of Western and Asian civilisations. (All American Girl ran for one year in 1994).

Ali’s one-hour show was filmed last year for Netflix and released this year as “Baby Cobra.” I started watching and at first I worried that it was going to be deliberately offensive. However I have rewatched it and I found Ali to be a very likeable character who spent much of the show making fun of herself and her ethnicity. There are several jokes at the expensive of her ‘jungle-Asian heritage’ -she is half Chinese and half Vietnamese. She also joked that she has to listen to self-help tapes to stop the endless anxious thoughts that flood her brain.

What makes this performance totally unique is that she gave it while she was 5-months pregnant. It was very physical performance and at one point Wong lay on the floor with her legs in the air as part of a gag about retaining her husband’s semen. Both Ali and Margaret make continual references to their bodies so if you find this offensive you probably won’t enjoy either of their performances.

Ali Wong in the Netflix Special Baby Cobra

Maybe people are used to hearing graphic content from male stand-ups but not aren’t so comfortable hearing it from women. Ali was remarkably candid and went in to detail about the ageing process and her difficulties becoming pregnant. Persistent myths were debunked. For example, the idea that couples have sex constantly when they are trying to become pregnant was demolished. In fact, Ali told us that she demanded that her husband save up his sperm for days so that they would be pent up and more likely to procreate.

Common to both Ali and Margaret Cho’s performaces were references between interracial dating between Asian women and White men. Ali mentioned that a previous boyfriend had refused to have anal sex with her and this lead to the punchline “if I advertised on Craigslist as a tiny asian female seeking anal sex the Internet would crash.” the joke was funny because there was so much truth to it.

This idea was mentioned again when Cho said that Asian women were like blondes “except no-one thinks we’re dumb.” One of Cho’s funniest lines was referring to very beautiful Asian women who have very unnatractive partners (‘Come on, I know your eyes aren’t that small’. Exaggeration perhaps, but no-one could say they were unfamiliar with what she was talking about. Cho’s show went on for too long and contained too much celebrity name-dropping (Joan Rivers, Robin Williams) at times.


It was another highly personal show in which she as well talked about her body, in one scene she revealed a chest-covered in tattoos, and explained how shocking these are to Koreans who associate body-art with organised crime. Still, her character came through strongly and the audience truly loved her.

Ali Wong is continuing as a writer on FOTB, and also as a voice artist in several films. Margaret Cho continues to perform, touring as well as acting. She was most recently seen in Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.