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From ‘The Cheat’ to ‘Crazy Rich Asians,’ a Brief History of Asian-Americans in Film (Photos)

From ‘The Cheat’ to ‘Crazy Rich Asians,’ a Brief History of Asian-Americans in Film (Photos)

Crazy Rich Asians” premieres Wednesday, and the film has been oft-lauded for being the first major studio film to feature a mainly Asian-American cast in 25 years, the last one being “The Joy Luck Club.” However, the history of Asian-Americans in film has spanned over a century, before even the inception of color film. Here is a chronological look at films starring Asian-Americans from the past — and the future.

“The Cheat” (1915) Asian men are rarely painted as sex symbols even in contemporary media, but Japanese-American actor Sessue Hayakawa became a veritable heartthrob, especially after starring in Cecil B. DeMille’s silent thriller, “The Cheat.” Though monumental, his role was that of a predatory antagonist, a typecast that stuck with him during the anti-Japanese sentiments of World War II.

“Daughter of Shanghai” (1937) Anna May Wong starred alongside Korean-American actor Philip Ahn, who played a government agent trying to bust an alien smuggling ring in San Francisco.

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