American Born Chinese Review

American Born Chinese New Movie

American Born Chinese” is a wonderful mash-up of a Disney Channel adolescent comedy and a Marvel action film, but it has better visuals and more heart than the majority of the MCU’s most recent releases.

The show centers on Jin Wang (Ben Wang), a Chinese American youngster attempting to survive in a predominantly white society, and is based on Gene Luen Yang’s popular graphic novel of the same name. He may fit in well with his soccer buddies, but he also quietly watches as they make fun of other children of color, hoping he won’t be the next. He similarly ignores any discomfort as the school becomes fixated on a TikTok craze that makes fun of a racist Asian character in a sitcom.

Wang does a fantastic job as Jin, channeling actors like Hudson Yang or Frankie Muniz with a portrayal that exudes constant stress and anxiety, which only adds to the hysterical comedy. Thus, when a teacher assigns Yin to spend time with the new student Wei-Chen (Jim Liu), a geeky Taiwanese boy who openly wears robot shirts carries manga to school, and speaks about anime and video games in public, Yin’s entire world turns upside down.

Luckily, the plot stays away from the clichĂ©d clichĂ© of the nerdy foreign loser. Wei-Chen is more than just a youngster who serves as Yin’s cultural anchor in this instance of “Perfect Strangers,” so it is not. The undisputed breakthrough star of the first two episodes that were aired at SXSW is Jim Liu. Wei-Chen, who also happens to be the son of Sun Wukong, the Monkey King from “Journey to the West,” a highly popular book that has been adapted countless times and served as the inspiration for the iconic anime “Dragon Ball,” is full of self-assurance, hilarious, cool, and can kick all kinds of ass.

A badass superhero origin

A Badass Superhero Origin
A Badass Superhero Origin

Not only is “American Born Chinese” a fantastic coming-of-age tale, but it’s also a really fine Wuxia-inspired epic tale of gods and humans. The opening scene of the first episode shows the Monkey King running after his son, who has stolen his magical staff and fled. Destin Daniel Cretton, the film’s director, uses the experience he garnered from working on a significant Marvel project like “Shang-Chi,” but without the limitations of a big-budget studio production with constantly changing VFX and other problems, he creates his most amazing action work to date.

This program appears to be on par with, if not better than, the most recent Marvel programs and movies. The scenery and cinematography are breathtaking, and the dance is flowing, simple to follow, and simply gorgeous. There is a sense that this is sort of a superhero origin narrative as the second episode properly establishes the story moving forward, and so far, it works.

The human story is engrossing, much like in the greatest old Marvel comics, so it works in addition to the fantastic action scenes. Jin’s planetary concerns and Wei-mythological Chen’s journey are expertly woven together in the story. Thanks to the show’s thorough attention to generating authenticity, it is simple to become engrossed in Jin’s story.

The way Jin interacts with his parents, the furnishings in their home, the selection of books and posters in his bedroom, as well as the way he interacts with his friends, all demonstrate how much this genre of television has evolved since The Disney Channel’s peak. Microaggressions, bullying, and casual racism are pervasive throughout the entire “special episode,” not just one isolated scene.

A relatable and funny coming-of-age story

A Relatable And Funny Coming Of Age Story
A Relatable And Funny Coming Of Age Story

Of course, a nice Disney Channel-style teen program wouldn’t be complete without some humor. Showrunner Kelvin Yu, who penned some of the greatest “Bob’s Burgers” episodes ever, including “The Kids Rob a Train” and “Glued, Where’s My Bob?” mixes the narrative with a great sense of comedy. It is self-deprecating without being cruel, general without being stupid, and detailed without being insensitive. “American Born Chinese” is also incredibly humorous.

Disney+ was first promoted as a streaming service that would include all of the popular brands, including “Star Wars,” “Marvel,” and possibly even “movies,” under one roof. “American Born Chinese” demonstrates how much more the service can and ought to be. This is the kind of teen coming-of-age story that could only be properly told in streaming today more than at any other time in history.

“American Born Chinese” premieres on Disney+ on May 24, 2023. 

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