Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.
Today I’d like to talk to you all about Hawaii Five-O, or as I like to think of it, what Law & Order would look like if it were set in Oahu, and had more bullets, and fewer braincells. Yes indeed! This 2010 reboot of the popular 1970s TV show is more fast-paced, action-packed, and stylishly-violent than anything else, but it still manages to be a lot of fun, and in a way that doesn’t make you feel guilty. Now, before any of you ask, no, I haven’t actually seen the original series, so I’m not going to make any comparisons in this review. This will be a strict evaluation of the 2010 reboot, and the 2010 reboot alone.
But what, you might be wondering, is Hawaii Five-O, and more specifically, the reboot, about? Well, it’s a series that follows an elite task force within the Honolulu Police Department, formed by the governor, which deals with special cases and crimes. The group consists of four members–Steve McGarrett, a former Navy SEAL and Hawaii native, Daniel “Danno” Williams, a cop from the mainland who came to the island to be with his daughter, Chin-Ho Kelly, a retired HPD detective and High School friend of Steve’s, and Kono Kalakaua, a recent graduate from the Police Academy, and Chin-Ho’s cousin. Because it was created by the governor, the group answers specifically to her, and is granted full immunity when performing its duties. This allows them to get away with a number of questionable acts, such as beating up and threatening suspects, and entering locations without a warrant. But before you get worried that this show is just another Wire–meaning it’s a depressing, meandering chronicle of the lives of corrupt cops–I’d like to point out that the characters here never step too far outside the limits of the law, and their immunity gets revoked later on in the series. So, yeah. Don’t worry. They are still the good guys.
Anyway, despite its classification as a “police procedural,” Hawaii Five-O feels much more like a straight up action-adventure series. Nearly every episode features a chase scene, shoot out, explosion, and choreographed hand-to-hand combat. On top of this, the cinematography is not unlike what you’d expect to see in a Michael Bay movie. Slow motion, whip pans, shots from, and of, helicopters, 360 degree turns, low angle shots of people getting out of their cars–these are just a few of the things featured in the series that give it its slick, fast, action-movie feeling. Now, like I said before, Hawaii Five-O is not a deep series at all. There’s no thought-provoking commentary on current events or racism, as with Law & Order, and no intricate plotting, as with the Wire. Still, the series has good action, good pacing, good character development, and it’s very enjoyable to watch. Plus, it’s refreshing to see a TV series that features a largely Asian cast.
As I’ve made it clear in such posts as “Why Colorblind Casting Works,” and my reviews of Sense8, Ex Machina, and Agents Of Shield, the portrayal of non-whites in mainstream media, particularly Asians and Asian-Americans, is very important to me. I feel that the roles available for Asian actors are very limited, and that those that are available are highly stereotypical. I’m therefore always on the lookout for movies and TV shows that not only feature lots of Asian characters, but that have those characters be fleshed out and well-rounded. That’s why I watch Fresh Off The Boat, and that’s also why I initially got into Hawaii Five-O. See, two of the main protagonists–Kono and Chin Ho–are Asian, as are several of the minor characters featured in most episodes. This choice to have so many Asian characters might seem odd to people who have never been to Hawaii, but, trust me, it makes sense to do this. Hawaii is a state with a predominantly Asian and Happa (mixed-race) population, so it would look weird if you had all the characters be White, Black or Hispanic. But that’s not the point. The point is that, while the main focus of the series is still the two White men–Steve and Danno–the most interesting characters are easily Kono and Chin-Ho. Both of them have quirks, personalities, and backstories. Kono is a huge football fan, an avid surfer, and a sharp shooter. Chin-Ho is an ex-quarterback, a loving, protective family man, and someone who has issues with the Honolulu Police Department. By contrast, the two white protagonists, Steve and Danno, are kind of bland. Steve, especially, failed to inspire me. Maybe it’s because the actor playing him–Alex O’Loughlin–has to work hard to overcome his native Australian accent, but, I don’t know, his performance is pretty monotone, and Steve, as a character, lacks personality. He’s big, muscular, and good-looking. And, well, that’s about it. He doesn’t express a wide range of emotion, and isn’t all that interesting. Kono, by contrast, is extremely cool! I was actually kind of nervous about her character at first, because, when I saw the trailers, she was pretty much wearing a bikini the whole time. I thought that, maybe, she’d just be a sexual object. However, when I actually got the chance to see her an action, I was satisfied as both a Feminist and a Chinese-American. She’s witty, self-reliant, shows a wide range of emotions, has a distinct personality and interests, and doesn’t adhere to any of the stereotypes White people have about Asians–other than that she knows martial arts, but, seeing as her character is a cop, I can forgive that.
So, to sum it all up, Hawaii Five-O is a slick, fast-paced action series that isn’t deep, but isn’t insultingly stupid either. It’s a fun way to spend an hour–or several, if you’re watching it on Netflix–and it’s got some of the best, most well-rounded Asian characters on television right now. It’s a 7.5 out of 10. If you want to watch it from the beginning, go to Netflix or Hulu. If you want to just dive right in, it’s still on CBS, and has a brand new season coming out September 25th. However you choose to view it, I can guarantee that you’ll enjoy yourself if you do so.