‘American Born Chinese’ Honors Hong Kong Style Action in Their Fight Choreography

in Disney, Television

American Born Chinese

American Born Chinese is now on Disney+, just as AANHPI Heritage Month comes to a close. The show has been met with positive reviews, with critics admiring the series for its coming-of-age storyline mixed with Asian American culture. Most notably, audiences praise the fight scenes, calling them some of the best they’ve seen in a Disney+ show. That’s all thanks to the Hong Kong-style action, also known as wuxia, that the series embraces.

American Born Chinses
Credit: Disney

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In a featurette for the series release, the cast and crew discussed the fight scenes in American Born Chinese, giving insight into what fans can expect. Actor and martial arts expert Daniel Wu promises viewers will see “crazy-cool Hong Kong wirework.” The wirework he’s referring to is known as wuxia.

Michelle Yeoh in DIsney Plus American Born Chinese
Credit: Disney

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The wuxia film genre has been popular in Chinese cinema since the 90s when films such as Ashes of Time (1994) first depicted flying martial art fighting scenes. With the word meaning “martial heroes,” these films typically center around characters from ancient China and have some of the most beautiful stunt work ever seen. The genre gained more popularity in America when Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) blew audiences away and won Best Foreign Picture at the Oscars.

As Wu states, “There’s a special rhythm, a pacing, and even a way of shooting this kind of action.” The style of capturing most Hong Kong-style fight scenes is long-form takes, where the shot does not cut during the fights. This is a traditional method used in many martial arts films, such as the famous Corridor Fight Scene in Old Boy (2003)

The fight and stunt choreographers in American Born Chinese also choreographed the fight scenes in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021), which share the same director, Destin Daniel Cretton. Members of the stunt team also worked on Netflix’s Daredevil and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016).

Are you excited to see Hong Kong-style action in a Disney+ original series? Let us know in the comments below. 

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