Space Ramblings

Charlie Chan – Fictional Characters who were much more Badass in Real Life

If you probably remember Charlie Chan, it’s as a fat lisping white guy who went around delivering fortune cookie wisdom and solving crimes with wisdom and kindness and generally being an all around Chinese stereotype palatable for white people at the time.

The real Charlie Chan though was based on a guy named Ah Ping Chang and the best way to imagine Ah Ping Chang is to imagine a Chinese combination of Clint Eastwood and Indiana Jones. Am I exaggerating? No. Ah Ping Chang originally worked as a cowboy, when he joined the Honolulu Police Force they wanted him to carry a gun, but he turned them down. Instead he went right on carrying his bullwhip from his Cowboy days. And he cleaned up Honolulu with that whip.

Imagine Clint Eastwood as a Chinese guy in a cowboy hat with a bullwhip bursting down doors and making mass arrests, and you have some idea of what the real Charlie Chan would have looked like on the big screen. Ah Ping Chang armed with only a bullwhip broke up organized crime rings across Hawaii. In one day he arrested over 40 people, armed with only a bullwhip! And then smoked one of his trademark cigars.

Did I mention that he was married three times, liked to drink and while he spoke bad English, it was probably more along the lines of, “Put down gun or I whip your &$%^$ %@%$!” than Charlie Chan’s “Sunshine beams through man like wisdom through dark room” crap. Obviously America was not ready for the real Charlie Chan, Ah Ping Chang who was just too badass for those times.

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