As "Glee" prepares for its final season, you can expect to see one of its alum, Harry Shum Jr., in some unexpected places. In addition to "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend," which he just wrapped up filming in New Zealand, Shum stars in "Revenge of the Green Dragons," a true-life crime story in theaters and available on VOD.
I spoke with Shum about the role, and what it was about the part of Paul Wong that made him want to be involved in the project.
In the film, Paul Wong believes he's chasing the American dream. The problem is that his version involves human trafficking and the drug trade. For Shum, he wanted to know how someone gets to that point as a person.
"When I approached it, I wanted to look at it as, 'Why did this guy do all of this? What was the intention?' Because you didn't see much in the article [the movie was based on]. I was fascinated by how this went on for so long," Shum said. "A lot of times in any mobster movie, gang movie or in real life, there's so much that leads up to those events and those relationships. For Paul, he was able to manipulate all of these people, other gangs, his own gang members."
One of the things that sets "Revenge of the Green Dragons" apart, besides its endorsement from Martin Scorsese, is that it tells a story focused on Asian Americans, and Shum saw that as an opportunity to be a part of a change in the entertainment industry.
"I think the first reason [that there aren't more movies like this] is that the Asian American story is very new," Shum said. "Not to say that Asian Americans didn't exist before, but I think it's starting to come into a second generation, where they're more vocal and they're more implanted into the American culture."
By being a part of "Revenge of the Green Dragon," Shum hopes to tell a type of American story that is sorely underrepresented.
"Hopefully, it opens up to more stories being told that have those elements. I think it's really, really important for other people to see what has happened in America that has been hidden for so long."
"Revenge of the Green Dragons" is in theaters now.