The moment you click on the play button of Disney Hotstar’s latest fantasy action thriller, American Born Chinese, your heart rate would start spiking–and I am not complaining. It is a thrilling ride with a sprinkle of fantasy, baked with love and garnished with an element all the Chinese fantasy action series are incomplete without–commendable action fights. It is manifested by a stellar team comprising popular directors and writers Kelvin Yu, Charles Yu and Destin Daniel. American Born Chinese is an adaptation of an award-winning graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang. The titular novel and the series follow two 10th graders, Jin Wang (Ben Wang)–or precisely, Jin Wong–and Wei-Chan (Jimmy Liu).
Jin is your typical high-school teenager who wants to fit in and become one of those “cool” guys even if that means he has to keep his tongue ziplocked. Sun Wei-Chan is the yang to Jin’s yin with his unabashed approach to life and habit of standing against injustice. This one word, or rather one sentiment–injustice–threads Jin and Wei-Chan in this coming-of-age teen drama. Let us explore this connection in detail now!
American Born Chinese Season 1 Plot Synopsis
Jin struggles to find a place in the school brimming with Americans who flaunt their accent and lineage. So, he searches for it in the soccer team with the varsity guys who believe mocking someone’s ethnicity is funny. Sierra Mona High School might be a place open to all and might pride itself on its strict non-discrimination policy but is there a high school that is truly unburdened by it?
Jin is still struggling to embrace his awkward shyness when Principal Kinney pairs him with another awkward nerd, Wei-Chan. He follows him like a shadow, speaks Mandarin, carries ancient Chinese-style tiffins and knows how to stand against bullying. While initially, Jin keeps up with his antics begrudgingly, they soon find common ground in the form of Kugo Ren comics. Still, Jin is unable to let go of his obsession with social ranks. When he catches Wei-Chan engaging in a kung-fu battle with an otherworldly creature, their already fragile relationship crumbles.
Wei-Chan Isn’t A Nerd And Heaven Is Not The Land Of Ecstasy
Wei-Chan, the soft-spoken, kind-hearted boy isn’t just a foreign exchange student but a descendent of heaven. Ain’t heaven the land of ecstasy? Well, no more. The place where the immortals live, the domain of Gods and Goddesses and the general symbol of eternal peace is now a warzone. Niu Mowang aka The Bull Demon (Leonard Wu) is aspiring to mitigate the discrimination going on with demons for centuries. He’s rebellious and has planned to take over the emperor of heaven. Amid this destruction and power play, a prophecy dawns on Wei-Chan in the form of a dream.
According to Wei-Chan’s dream, the Fourth Scroll–a mythical entity that could stop Bull Demon from destroying heaven–is on Earth. Wei-Chan’s search leads him to Jin, who he wholeheartedly–and may I add naively?–believes to be his guide. The tale of his struggle is just a fantastical story to Jin initially but then the dots start to connect and his perception changes. When Wei-Chan’s father, the legendary Sun Wukong aka Monkey King, is betrayed by Bull Demon, all hells break loose.
This atrocious demon is out to capture Wukong’s Staff which is currently in Wei-Chan’s possession. With the help of an ally, Ji Gong, a monk who was cast from heaven, Bull Demon successfully steals this ultra-powerful object from Wei-Chan. Both of these boys turn to Wei-Chan’s guardian, the Goddess of Mercy, Guanyin (Michelle Yeoh) for help. Unfortunately, the equinox–the gate between Earth and Heaven–is opening and the time is running out of their hands. It is now or never and with billions of people, Gods, Goddesses and other creatures’ lives on the line, never is not an option.
American Born Chinese Ending Explained: Do Jin And Wei-Chan Defeat Bull Demon?
Disney’s American Born Chinese isn’t just an action fantasy thriller. Rather it is a punchy tale of discrimination and identity crisis. Not only Jin, his friend, Anuj or his parents, Christine (Yeo Yann) and Simon (Chin Han) but also a fictionalized well-known actor, Jamie suffers through the same issue. It clearly hits a nerve with its main focus on the discrimination, against Asian-American prejudice. As American Born Chinese nears the climax, the development Jamie flaunts grabs the attention of the fictionalized media.
Jamie narrates his real-life story of being a non-American and working in Hollywood. Moreover, Jin’s parents, who constantly bickered about Simon’s docile nature and the issues of independence for Christine, have now accepted their true nature as well. Jin is on his way to embrace his true nature as well, with Bull Demon hanging over his head.
Jin’s prophetic dream leads him to believe that the world is on the brink of destruction and that the soccer match he’s scheduled to play has epic consequences. Now, Anuj, Jin and Wei-Chan decide to arrange a cosplay to help the Bull Demon accept his identity and not cause any destruction. Their plan backfires, however, and Wei-Chan is embroiled in yet another kung-fu battle. The Fourth Scroll Wei-Chan was desperately searching for is none other than Jin himself. He is the one who stops the ultimate destruction and defeats the Bull Demon.
However, fate isn’t truly on his side. He has saved his parents but his best friend, Wei-Chan has to leave the Earth and him eventually. Back at home, he has lost his parents, too. They are abducted by a celestial goddess, who now wants to take Jin with her, too. The story will continue in American Born Chinese Season 2!
American Born Chinese Season 1 Review
I began this discussion by mentioning that right from the start by mentioning that American Born Chinese Season 1 wouldn’t let your heart rate stay steady. I would like to affirm it again. It is a poignant tale of discrimination, identity acceptance and more. The modern-day issues are tackled with a finesse that leaves no room for complaints (Just a window though). Both the leading protagonists, Ben Wang and Jimmy Liu are natural in their roles. The eight-episode-long series lets them showcase their talents and develop their characters. It might not be the finest tale or the most impacting one and yet, it is an engrossing one.
Throughout the eight parts of the series, the attention to little details such as the ancient-style tiffin boxes and the manga series lined up in Jin’s room gripped me hard. Moreover, self-doubt and peer pressure turn tides. As I said, American Born Chinese leaves no room for complaints earning it a solid 9.4 on 10.