Marvel’s latest film, Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, is out in theatres on 3 September 2021. This marks the 25th film included in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and the first Asian superhero to lead a Marvel film.
The film is centred around the Marvel Comics character, Shang Chi, but adapted for a modern, global audience. The director of the film, Destin Daniel Cretton, challenged the comics’ problematic elements and improved upon it to make his vision of Asian representation come to life. When asked about the casting of the roles, Cretton replied:
“A big part of the casting process was finding actors who I knew would identify with these characters in some way through their lived experience. If you lined up all of our actors, they all are drastically different personalities, from very different backgrounds. For whatever reason, Asian characters in cinema in the past have not captured the variety of personalities that I know in my everyday life. That’s what we wanted to try to capture in this movie.“ (Source: CNN)
Moreover, for the official soundtrack of Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Destin Daniel Cretton mainly included Asian artists, we were all delighted to even hear that a few Kpop idols were in the list!
About Shang Chi
The main character, Shang Chi, is portrayed by Canadian actor Simu Liu (born in Harbin, China). You might recognise him as Jung Kim in the sitcom Kim’s Convenience. Liu is the perfect fit for the role as he has been a constant and one of the most recognised AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) activists.
Liu states, “It’s a beautiful and exciting new origin story for this character that a lot of the world hasn’t heard of before. And it means that kids growing up today will have what I didn’t, which are characters that are aspirational, that also reflect their lived experience.” (Source: Games Radar) Additionally, he responded to Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek’s comments about the film being an “experiment”:
Meng’er Zhang made her debut mainstream film with the role of Xu Xialing, Shang-Chi’s estranged sister. The actress has remarked her own shock at landing the role and said:
“Shang Chi will touch home, especially for Asian immigrants living in Western countries. We need to remember our roots and be proud of where we’re from. Representation is so important, and Shang-Chi won’t be the last to tell our stories. Guaranteed, you’ll leave the cinema carrying a warm feeling in your heart.” (Source: Vogue Interview)
Tony Leung Chiu-Lai plays Xu Wenwu, Shang-Chi and Xialing’s father. Wenwu is an original MCU who replaces the comic book father, Fu Manchu, a character associated with racist stereotypes. Instead, Cretton wrote his character to be more complex and layered to actively change the problematic portrayal of the original character.
The Soundtrack – Asian artists sharing the light
The diverse cast meets the diverse artists from all across the world. It’s no surprise that 88rising, the leading label for Asian-American and Asian artists, were featured most prominently in the film. From featuring NIKI to Rich Brian, it doesn’t stop there. There’s even a song, ‘Hot Soup’, where various 88rising artists and Simu Liu sang together for.
The soundtrack features a few Kpop idols and artists all around Asia, such as Indonesia and Japan, in the list:
1. GOT7’s Mark Tuan and BIBI
Initially, fans were expecting Jackson Wang to feature because of the trailer song but instead Mark Tuan collaborated with rising artist BIBI on the song, ‘Never Gonna Come Down’. Tuan also attended the film’s premier last month, dazzling fans with his classy visuals.
2. Zion. T and Gen Hoshino
R&B soloist Zion. T and Japanese singer Gen Hoshino collaborated on the track, ‘Nomad‘. The song highlights Zion. T smooth vocals with a catchy hook.
3. DPR IAN and DPR LIVE
4. Henry Lau
Despite not being credited on the album, Henry Lau is very much a part of the soundtrack, making many fans not notice his feature. He collaborated with Adawa and Shayiting EL on ‘Baba Says’.
The American singer of Vietnamese origin, keshi, blesses the tracklist with a dreamy song, ‘War with Heaven’.
Another rising South Korean solo artist on the list! After featuring on ‘0X1=Lovesong (I Know I Love You)’ by TXT, she gained recognition for her own songs as well. Seori sang ‘Warriors’ in collaboration with Warren Hue.
7. Anderson .Paak
Anderson .Paak is more recognised as an American rapper but has Korean roots from his mother’s side. ‘Fire In The Sky’ is a track that blends into the story perfectly.
Indonesian singer-songwriter NIKI prevailed with her own solo song, ‘Every Summertime’. She also collaborated with fellow 88rising artists in ‘Always Rising’ with Rich Brian and Warren Hue. She sang with Audrey Nuna, a Korean-American R&B artist, for ‘Clocked Out!’
9. Rich Brian
Probably the most featured artist on the album and mentioned earlier, the Indonesian rapper collaborated with NIKI and Warren Hue for ‘Always Rising‘. Rich Brian also released ‘Lazy Susan’ with 21 Savage, Higher Brothers’ Masiwei, and Warren Hue, ‘Act Up’ with Earthgang, ‘Foolish’ with Warren Hue and Guapdad 4000. ‘Run It’ with DJ Snake and Rick Ross.
10. Warren Hue
Another 88rising star and Indonesian rapper, Warren Hue is just 19 years old but has filled the tracklist with 4 collaborations alongside Rich Brian, NIKI, Seori and more.
12. JJ Lin
‘Lose Control’ by Singaporean Mando-pop artist, JJ Lin, is the perfect mellow song to even out the emotional, action packed film.
13. Jhené Aiko
Jhené Aiko recorded ‘In The Dark’ with American rapper Swae Lee. Aiko’s mother is of Dominican, Spanish and Japanese descent and her father is of Native American, African-American, and German-Jewish descent. The duo’s vocals really compliment well with each other.
Stop AAPI Hate & How Else You Can Help
The film has made a positive impact for the Asian community all around the world. It’s a wholesome change to see the cast and crew being so passionate about painting Asian culture as something powerful.
We also urge you to look into Stop AAPI Hate and learn more about the fight against racism. There was clear increase in hate crimes towards Asian people after the COVID-19 pandemic and there can be no tolerance towards racist individuals spreading misinformation.
The cast and the singers included in the album alike are staunch supporters of the movement. Their personal stories have impacted their performances and it’s really inspiring to see more recognition towards Asian media, such as the success of Kpop group BTS, award winning films like Parasite and Minari.
On that note, we are all proud and excited to see Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings so catch it in theatres whenever you can!