The Representation Game: A Conversation with Matthias Hoene
Pop culture products like movies and TV shows help us recognize social issues that need discussing. If we’re lucky, they enlighten us in entertaining ways. Sometimes they even make us uncomfortable because they force us question our own beliefs. Enter the Warriors Gate, the latest film from director Matthias Hoene, does all that work and more.
At first, I was taken with the enrapturing story. Jack (13 Reasons Why star Uriah Shelton), a teenage gamer that finds himself literally entering a video game to rescue an abducted Chinese princess (China’s-own Ni Ni), from Arun the barbarian (Dave Bautista of Guardians of the Galaxy fame). It’s not until about half-way through the action-packed story that a major incongruity hit me: Jack is a white male endowed with the martial arts skill to rescue the people of color, becoming the ultimate hero. My first thought was that the film was doomed to repeat archaic mistakes of cultural appropriation and insensitive representation. But judging Enter the Warriors Gate there misses a golden opportunity. At heart, it utilizes the model of 1980s combat movies like the original Karate Kid trilogy (1984-1989), a recognizable form for audiences, to at once pay tribute to the filmmaking prowess of those classics, while also pointing out that there is much more change needed.
I was excited to chat with Matthias about how his early career making commercials and music videos influenced his directorial approach, as well as the ways in which horror and action genres enable debates about social issues. He even takes some time to answer critics that miss the larger point Enter the Warriors Gate strives to make. The movie’s stylistic presentation of these ideas and its stunning visual graphics earn it 4 out of 5 hairpieces. Gamers and casual fans of big action movies will find something to enjoy about Enter the Warriors Gate when it hits theaters, On Demand platforms, iTunes, and Amazon Video on May 5th. I hope you use this conversation to begin forming your own opinions. Let’s start a dialogue.