‘American Born Chinese’ review round-up: Stellar cast leads ‘action-packed’ and ‘deeply relatable coming of age story’

On May 24, 2023, Disney+ released “American Born Chinese,” which quickly amassed a score of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes and a critics’ consensus that reads, “Jam-packed with inventive flourishes and grounded by lovable actors, ‘American Born Chinese’ musters epic elements from Chinese mythology to tell a deeply relatable coming of age story.”

The series reunites “Everything Everywhere All At Once” Oscar winners Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan to tell the story of Jin Wang (Ben Wang), an average teenager balancing high school and home life. When he meets a new foreign student on the first day of the school, even more worlds collide as Jin is unwittingly entangled in a battle with Chinese mythological gods. Read our full review round-up below.

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Alex Maidy of JoBlo’s Movie Network writes, “In an era of superhero overload and comic book adaptations aplenty, it should come as no surprise that the marketing for ‘American Born Chinese’ has been predominantly focused on the martial arts and supernatural elements of the series. Featuring a stellar cast of Asian and Asian-American actors, including ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ stars Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, and James Hong, ‘American Born Chinese’ is far more than just an action-adventure. The series is a modernized retelling of the Monkey King legend from Chinese mythology blended with a contemporary tale about fitting in a multicultural world.”

Dianna Shen of Consequence says, “Michelle Yeoh is a gem in every scene she’s in, bringing a sweet goofiness to her role as Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy: Despite playing an ethereal being, Yeoh brings forward a hilarious relatability as Wei-Chen’s earth caretaker, seamlessly embodying the persona of a silly Asian auntie. And Stephanie Hsu is an absolute delight in her brief appearance as the Goddess of Stones, reuniting and brilliantly riffing alongside Yeoh.” She adds, “Meanwhile, Ke Huy Quan delivers a wonderful performance as Jamie, a retired Asian actor whose old character surfaces as a viral meme — his role serving as a parallel to Quan’s real-life experience as a struggling actor, unable to find work after his childhood success. While Quan does an excellent job with the material he’s given, it’s disappointing to see his character reduced to speaking about how little space he’s been allotted, without actually providing him with an opportunity to shine and showcase the depth of his abilities.”

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Christie Cronan of Raising Whasians notes, “Using action-packed Kung-Fu and teenage sarcasm to drive the message home, this Disney+ original show is a far departure from the Disney Channel overacting, forced smiles. and stiff dance routines. And I say that as a HUGE compliment.” 

Angie Han of The Hollywood Reporter praises the series, stating, “American Born Chinese is fundamentally Jin’s story as he goes on a journey of self-acceptance, eventually realizing that he’s enough just as he is — that he doesn’t have to let the world tell him who he is or what he deserves or what he’s capable of. But in spirit, it’s far closer to the superhumanly assured Wei-Chen: unafraid to reach for the stars and let its true colors show, and all the more inspiring for it.”

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