Who Killed Vincent Chin?
It is clear who physically killed Vincent Chin. From the beginning, Who Killed Vincent Chin? explains that Ronald Ebens and his stepson had a verbal tussle with Vincent Chin and his companions at a topless bar. Later, Ebens beat Vincent Chin with a baseball bat while his stepson held Chin down. The audience knows the basic premise but more parts of the story are developed in a “collage” fashion as the film progresses. While the film progresses relatively chronologically, the audience must constantly reconstruct the story.
When the film first retold the events of Chin’s murder and the subsequent trial, I was more furious at Ronald Ebens than at the justice system. He seemed to try to justify all of his actions. He complained about spending a night in a jail cell with an uncomfortable though. I was annoyed that this seemed to be his biggest concern after he had just beat a man to death. Ebens did not seem too concerned at all with what he had done. His wife explained that the day he was ordered to jail, he had gone to work and had even played some baseball. The film initially portrayed Ebens as ignorant and relatively carefree. Ebens expressed annoyance of the community’s uprising against his light punishment saying that it was “selfish, a way for Asian-Americans to get ahead, overcome their alleged plight, alleged because I know very few Asians, very few.”
As the film progressed, I definitely directed more anger towards the justice system rather than Ebens. Ebens became more of a symbol of what was wrong with the courts. This feeling began to develop with the interview of the first judge that gave Ebens probation and a $3000 fine for the murder. The judge avoided the direct subject of the sentence and was instead complaining about the number of sentences he had to give out daily. Others also argued that the courts didn’t have enough money for more involved (hence, more fair) trials. In the end, the Ebens sentence did not make sense. How could so many people call attention to the case and how could Ebens, a murderer, walk away free? I suppose that one of the values of the film is that it makes sure that the case never truly dies.
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