American Born Chinese Review: An Average Coming of Age Story

The Pitch: Based on Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel of the same name, Disney+’s American Born Chinese combines Chinese mythology with coming-of-age storytelling. The show centers around Jin (Ben Wang), an average high school student who struggles with all the teenage problems in the book – an unstable social life, an unrequited crush, and parents who don’t seem to understand him – while simultaneously trying to restore his culture. heritage with his desire to fit in with his white peers.

These variables become even more complicated when Jin is tasked with showing new transfer student Wei-Chen (Jim Liu) around, who turns out to be the son of the legendary Monkey King, Sun Wukong (daniel wu). Suddenly, Jin finds himself involved in an unworldly war that plagues the heavenly gods.

Kung Fu Fighting: American Born Chinese has all the ingredients of a typical high school sitcom, but with a twist – it has martial arts! Each episode features at least one action-packed fight sequence, each beautifully choreographed, and while supernatural coming-of-age stories are nothing new for Disney (see the: Mrs. Marvel), the action-comedy format of the show allows for a lot of creativity in terms of incorporating elements of mythology and traditional kung fu within the narrative.

However, the performance’s use of martial arts also seems to function as a distraction from a tired narrative within the Asian narrative – Jin’s personal journey of grappling with his Asian heritage. As seen in the series, his eagerness to assimilate into white culture feels dated and uninteresting, while perpetuating the idea that all Asian stories should center around the same internal struggle, rather than focusing on more nuanced dynamics beyond our cultural identity. In doing so, the series unintentionally commodifies Asianness, by viewing it only in relation to how a white audience might actively understand it.

Everything, Everywhere All At Once: The series embodies his tropey storytelling with a star-studded cast of Asian talent, including Ronny Chieng, James Hong, and Jimmy O. Yang, to name a few.

Michelle Yeoh a gem in every scene she’s in, bringing a sweet silliness to her role as Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy: Despite playing an ethereal being, Yeoh brings a hilarious relatability as the -care of Wei-Chen’s land, which neatly embodies the persona of a fool. Asian auntie. And Stephanie Hsu is an absolute delight in her brief appearance as the Goddess of Stones, reuniting and riffing well with Yeoh.

American Born Chinese (Disney+)

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *