[American Born Chinese Review] Emphasizing teenage life more than action fantasy, it becomes boring.
American Born Chinese
User Review( votes)
- It combines elements of teenage drama and fantasy with the adaptation of the Monkey King legend.
- The adaptation brings the Monkey King legend into the modern era.
- The actors portraying Sun Wukong’s children have a captivating charm.
- The fight scenes are well-executed.
- There are few action scenes.
- There is an excessive focus on teenage life.
- The lead actor/actress is not very compelling or captivating.
American Born Chinese The series from Disney+, consisting of 8 episodes, each lasting 30 minutes, follows the story of Jin Wang (played by Ben Wang), an ordinary Chinese-American teenage student who seeks acceptance from his peers in school but without much success. However, one day, when he encounters Wei-Chen (played by Jimmy Liu, a new Chinese student, his personal life and world take a dramatic turn as they become entangled in the legendary battles of Chinese gods.
American Born Chinese Review
The teenage fantasy series seems to be inspired by the success of the movie ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once,’ which recently won an Oscar. It even features the lead actors, Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan , reprising their roles in this series. The storyline combines elements of fantasy and family drama, focusing on a Chinese family in American society. With the growing influence of Asian representation in the entertainment industry, this series aims to ride the wave of this trend and capture its momentum.
This story originated from a 2006 graphic novel, depicting the tale of a Chinese family who establishes their roots in America before encountering a new student who happens to be the son of Sun Wukong from the legendary Journey to the West. They embark on a quest to find the elusive fourth volume of the epic, which is not part of the original legend, believing that it can help stop the demonic bull from plotting the overthrow of the celestial realm
Since this is a series, the budget is limited. So, for those who hope that this will be a beautiful and spectacular action fantasy series, you can stop thinking about it. Because the series primarily focuses on teenage life. The beautiful and stunning action fantasy scenes are only present in the early episodes. Even the role of Madame Gao, played by Michelle Yeoh, has only a short action scene, but it’s good that her fighting moves are well-executed. However, the remaining CG parts are quite ordinary.
The main theme of this story is the attempt to present the various aspects of Asian family life, not unlike the movie “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” The protagonist, Jin Wang, is a Chinese teenager who desires acceptance from others, which is a common plot in typical teenage stories. However, what sets it apart is that he is a Chinese-American teenager who often faces more bullying and racial issues in American society, similar to the experiences of second-class citizens. Yet, in the school setting, the story is lighter and less intense. Jin’s problems are not significant, such as wanting to join the football club, being caught imitating a video clip, or having a crush on a cute Caucasian girl. These are all common occurrences in the life of an average teenager, except that Jin desires them more than others and finds happiness in things that others perceive as strange, like his Indian friend who obsesses over cartoons or his contentment with being part of the outcast cosplay group at school.
In terms of the relationship with Wei-Chen, who is a determined and loyal friend, their story revolves around a light-hearted friendship as he tries to connect with Jin and persuade him to help find the prophecy. Wei-Chen makes efforts to assist Jin through various school-related problems before they eventually have a falling-out and separate. They gradually reconcile and learn the value of friendship once again. However, when it comes to the fantasy aspect, it is mostly centered around Wei-Chen, with very little involvement from Jin. Almost all of the fantasy scenes occur with Wei-Chen. This makes the story feel like it has two main protagonists, each with their own separate roles in the teenage life and fantasy aspects
The story also delves into the lives of his parents. In the case of Jin’s parents, there is a struggle with the desire to elevate their career responsibilities. However, Jin’s father feels lost and disconnected, unlike the idealistic image of new immigrants to America, which leads to a sense of disappointment for Jin’s mother. She wants him to change and improve himself, but instead, it becomes a daily source of arguments and conflicts. However, this storyline is barely related to the main fantasy storyline, if at all.
The character Sun Wukong has a more fascinating storyline. He is a father who tries to prevent his son from leading a misguided life, based on his own past experiences. The narrative takes us back to see how this character came to be, in a way that was not depicted in the original Monkey King legends. In the past, he was a close friend with a bull demon, but their relationship was shattered due to his own mistakes, It’s similar to what is happening to his own child.
The main issue is the viewers’ expectations. If they expect it to be a heavily action-packed fantasy, they will undoubtedly be disappointed. The majority of the storyline revolves around the lives of general Chinese-American teenagers, with elements of the Monkey King legend incorporated into American culture. Western viewers might find this to be a fresh concept, but Asian viewers may not find it particularly novel, as there have been many Chinese films that have already adapted Chinese mythology in a similar manner.
Overall, it is a teenage series that is unique due to its adaptation of the Monkey King legend combined with the lives of Chinese-American teenagers in American society. It focuses more on overcoming obstacles in teenage life rather than being heavily action-packed or fantastical, as many people might have expected. Personally, the writer finds it quite boring and not suitable for viewers looking for an entertaining adventure.