Charlotte Chong, Assassination
Similarities aside, the above image is not, obviously, Jan Gan Boyd. Fittingly, no such picture exists anywhere in cyberspace, making her brief flirtation with 80’s action that much more mysterious. In the course of her time in the sun, she played a Wong, a Cheng, a lab tech, and a waitress. Here, in the Charles Bronson vehicle Assassination, she is all Chong. Charlotte “Charlie” Chong, if you must know, and few could have done it better. None but the proud would have had the stomach for it. For not only does she stand toe-to-toe with the decade’s most stoic warrior, she trades quips and sexual barbs without breaking a sweat. To hell with pleasing her man; she’s in this for herself. She’s a sidekick, a Pal Joey, a mascot; and all she wants to do is fuck the mustache right off Bronson’s face. Though shuffling through a sad career shorter than a Chinaman’s chopstick, she did so with feet decidedly unbound. Nobody’s fool, her refusal to bow and bend like the stereotypically demure Asian of old allowed her to take the best of the Orient, channeling both that region’s primitive lust for bodily fluids and its perverse, dark sexuality, and emerge not only whole, but high-heeled and horny to boot. She’d have Chuck’s Polish sausage, even if she had to set the nation’s capital aflame to get it.
Her hunger, as restless and desperate as any random peasant during the Great Leap Forward, permeates the film like a thick, bordello stank; the First Lady might be in danger, but her safety is a solid second to Ms. Chong’s frenzied need to clamp her Commie thighs firmly on Chuck’s grizzled, cigar store Indian of a mug. Strange, too, that she has more on-screen chemistry with the legendary badass than he ever had with his own wife, Jill Ireland. Still, her heroism stems not only from an independent streak a mile wide, but also her steadfast repudiation of anything remotely naked or dead. For once in Charlie’s cinematic life, someone else is in charge. And, in a truly novel turn, not once does she try to murder her lover in the sack. Instead, at the peak of her career inside the White House, she thinks of little else but the bump and grind with a man at least 53 years her senior. An older, mustier man for its own sake, not as a means to move up the company ladder or inspire more sinister deeds. A black chick would have been too sassy, a white woman too ordinary, and a Latina simply unbelievable in a job not involving deep fryers and drive-up windows. No, it took an Asian to win Charlie’s loins. He’s intrigued, but too flummoxed to commit.
There’s much to the theory that Boyd’s career stalled because she was the lone Bronson love interest who survived to live another day, or at least put head to pillow without being raped. At one point, Chuck cries, in response to her request to move in, “I don’t want to die of a terminal orgasm.” These are bold words indeed, impossible to imagine in any of the Death Wish films. Why continue when you’ve forced such a man to his knees in resignation? As an actor, he never was the same again, displaying a suffocating indifference until he faded away into dementia and death. In her own right, the performing bug was cured for good by 1991. What of her legacy? At a time when Asian girls stripped bare simply to spend long shoots as dumpster meat or “Whore #2,” she was a cocky renegade who not only didn’t service G.I.’s or ronery businessmen, but managed to push for lovemaking within the confines of a committed relationship. Not only was she dressed, but dressed sharply, and she spoke not with a forked tongue, but the King’s English, albeit laced with grade school innuendo. She’s the one who got away. But not without a fight.