American Born Chinese Season 1 Review – An entertaining and action-packed fantasy comedy

Season 1

Episode Guide

Episode 1 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 4/5


American Born Chinese is an action-packed fantasy comedy on Disney+, premised around the genre-defying graphic novel of the same name. The show revolves around the life of an ordinary high school student who struggles to balance his family life and his academic obligations.

Once Jin Wang comes across Wei-Chen and gets close to him, he discloses that he isn’t from this world at all, and his everyday life, filled with everyday struggles, undergoes a transformation. Following the revelation, Wei-Chen and Jin are forced to participate in a fight between Chinese mythological deities, where they must overcome a number of paranormal forces in order to defeat their foes.

The show’s plot deftly switches between the present day and China’s 16th century, in a captivating switch between vibrant settings. The show realistically captures the school sequences, which is quite grounded and relatable, and then juxtaposes that against flawlessly choreographed action scenes starring Wei Chen and the Bull Demon.

Having said that, the show’s action sequences feature plenty of slow-motion, which is efficient until it becomes tiresome. Additionally, even though the show begins in the fabled realm of Heaven, it turns out that the real world is more intriguing. Although there is excellent editing between the two separate realms, as time passes on Earth, we start to lose track of Heaven. A few side stories could have also been cut or compacted, which may have improved the season’s overall flow.

It’s hard to take your eyes off this one because it has so many enjoyable components, such as adventure, legend, and action, making it an entertaining watch. Additionally, the show addresses a variety of themes such as the everyday challenges in a teenage boy’s life, marital woes, and parenting issues, to name a few.

American Born Chinese effectively weaves together young adult and fantasy genres, while the older end of the generation gap is where the show excels. Wei-Chen and Sun Wukong take on the classic tug-of-war involving the prodigal son and the patriarch. Jin’s parents. It’s fascinating to look at the different parenting styles and it’s definitely likely to be relatable to many people.

One of the major flaws of the show though stems from the tone and visual style. It occasionally takes on an especially odd quality. Additionally, the majority of the show’s characters, including the more relatable ones, lack a multifaceted personality. Most of the characters are either black or white, except the Bull Demon.

Jin, the main character, is not particularly likable. His cowardly and unconfident demeanor makes it difficult for the audience to root for him.

The show humanizes the antagonist and gives him a strong motivation for vengeance, which makes him worth empathizing with. Having said that, despite having a compelling backstory, the antagonist fails to leave a mark on the audience owing to his rather dull performance.

Throughout the season, the majority of the performers receive opportunities to truly excel. Guanyin, played by Michelle Yeoh, is a treat to watch, as she injects a lot of humor into the series.

The comedic parts certainly draw attention to Jin’s performance. His sardonic delivery and puzzled demeanor blend in well with the events taking place around him. His credibility wanes in the more intense scenes though, with the dialogue doing very little to help in that respect.

American Born Chinese revolves around family and friendship. The show’s emphasis on Jin’s connection with Wei-Chen, as well as his bond with both of his parents, is mainly what makes this such an entertaining watch. However, this one is not without its flaws.

The show is too eccentric for its own good and at times its ambitions are much higher than what it actually accomplishes. While not a bad watch, to prevent stagnation this one will need to improve if its to be revived for another season.

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  • Verdict - 7/10

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