For when a movie has already hit the screens – or hasn’t yet – but I feel the need to tell you guys something anyway. Boom. Here you go.
Most of you don’t know this – mostly because all you know of me is my tap-tap-tap on the keyboard – but my parents were Asian. Japanese-American, to be specific. Nisei to be super-specific, in case anyone cares that much. I myself am a little adopted mixed-breed. (woof.) So, growing up, it was A Big Deal whenever we’d see someone Asian on-screen that wasn’t in a martial arts flick. Seriously; I remember my mom and I flipping all the way out when Mr. T and Tina hit the TV. Til then (and since that show was canceled double-quick, almost immediately after) it was Barney Miller‘s Jack Soo (RIP, my guy), and various non-leading cast members on the original Hawaii Five-O. Yay…
But now? I walked into the ol’ multiplex and saw a ton of Asian rep in a mothafreakin’ Marvel movie. And halfway through I teared up, out of nowhere. It kinda freaked me out a little; I thought I was over all that “oh wowie someone who looks like my fam/like I belong” thing. But apparently not. It didn’t hurt that the movie is fantastic, and the plot had me glued to the screen with its mix of Nobody, Marvel Origin Story, and Shazam, as well as Crazy Rich Asians for those beautiful wide shots. (DEEEEEAM.) There was just something about the scene where Simu Liu’s Shaun/Shang-Chi and his aunt (Michelle Yeoh’s Ying Nan) are talking about his mother…I misted up a bit. I wish my parents could have seen this. Yeah, my mom would have brushed it off and acted all “so what”, and my dad would have been all about the crazy-well choreographed action scenes. But I think, deep inside, they would have loved to have seen a big tentpole film focus on – and be deftly directed by – people we could easily picture chowing down right next to us at the local Japanese American Citizens League throwdown.
So much for the thoughts. I’ve got stuff too. Like how much I absolutely and totally loved this film. The soundtrack – a great mix of old school orchestral music with a touch of Eastern vibe, and modern-day big city bops, many from Asian artists. Schweeeeet. The way the characters just…are. Nobody’s a stereotype, everybody is exactly who they are with no kowtowing or any of that stupid bullshit. (Big, huge props to director/co-writer Cretton for getting the vibe of just being a human being who happens to be Asian on screen so perfectly.) The way Shaun and Awkwafina’s Katy have such undeniable BFF chemistry on screen, and how Awkwafina balances her comedic and dramatic chops here. The mythical creatures CGI that absolutely blew me away (I see you Morris. And I want your plush. Marketing achievement unlocked, Marvel.)
But mostly, I love Shang-Chi simply because it’s a Marvel movie with all the Marvel-ness I’ve come to expect, with a cast that looks straight outta my dad’s friend’s list. There’s only once real instance of Yeah Asian in the entire film; when Shaun and Katy tell their friends Soo and John (Stephanie Hsu and Kunal Dudhker – who I hope to see more of in the sequel) how they met, and it’s how Katy protected new-kid Shaun from bullies who were picking on him. John and Soo just nod in understanding. It’s perfect. Now somebody pass me a tissue, goddammit.
Oh, and I wouldn’t leave you hanging about after-the-main-story teasers. You definitely want to see the mid credits scene. It’s a rather long one for these teases, and it’s awesome. Plus, even though there’s a hefty mid-credits scene, there’s also a brief after-credits bit that’s worth staying to see. So maybe grab that small drink…or have a firm hand on the pause button if you’re watching on Disney+.