Photo credit: Chris Pang/Instagram

Crazy Rich Asians star Chris Pang has lived out his speed demon dreams at Spring Mountain Motorsport Ranch this week. 

“They say you always remember the day you fall in love and if that is also the best day of your life you’re a lucky man,” he wrote. “Well, I’m a lucky man.” He called the day “a dream come true” and “truly unforgettable. 

Pang, wearing red and standing next to his white race car, instantly reminded me of Speed Racer with the Mach 5, making me wonder–what would it have been like if Pang got the role as the iconic anime character?

As you might already know, the Wachowskis already brought Speed Racer to the big screen in 2008 with Emile Hirsch as the title character. Even though critics panned the film, I thought the movie was ahead of its time to use the then-popular 3D glasses technology, special effects, and slavish commitment to bringing the anime to life. Of course, the one thing that might not fly today is that the entire main cast is white. The two most notable Asian cast members are Hiroyuki Sanada as Japanese racing exec Mr. Musha and Japanese rocker Rain as Japanese racer and (one of Speed’s competitors) Taejo Togokahn.

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Rain as Taejo Togokahn in Speed Racer. (Photo credit: Warner Bros.)
Rain as Taejo Togokahn in Speed Racer. (Photo credit: Warner Bros.)

Of course, casting Pang could still make some people upset since he’s not Japanese either. But, considering how Hollywood still casts actors regardless of racial or cultural consideration–generally for the worst–Pang as Speed would still be a step in the right direction. It’d also be a jolt in the arm of Hollywood’s idea of Asianness, which is currently being driven by this idea of “Crazy Rich”-ness. Ironically, Pang starred in Crazy Rich Asians, and it’d only be poetic justice if Pang’s future roles in Hollywood helped counter the “rich” stereotype Hollywood is perpetuating. 

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Another problem: Pang might be too old to play Speed, a character generally portrayed as a younger man in his 20s. Perhaps Pang would be better suited to play Racer X, the mysterious racer who is also Speed’s long-lost older brother. In the 2008 film, Matthew Fox portrayed the character, and to me, both Pang and Fox fit that mold of the “tall, dark and handsome” mysterious male archetype in Hollywood. Pang would bring the intensity and melancholy necessary for Racer X. In fact, let’s have a film all about Racer X and his grief over keeping his identity a secret from his family. 

What do you think about Pang’s racing experience? Would you want to see Pang play Speed Racer or Racer X in a rebooted Speed Racer film? Give your opinions below. 

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