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Shaun (Simu Liu) seems like your average American millennial slacker, a hotel valet who has little drive in life beyond killing it in the late-night karaoke room with his equally aimless best friend, Katy (Awkwafina).
That is until a couple strangers on the duo’s San Francisco city bus demand the emerald pendant dangling from Shaun’s neck, prompting our hero-in-hiding — Shaun turns out to be Shang-Chi, the son of immortal warlord Wenwu, aka The Mandarin — to open up a can of whoop-ass on the assailants while a slack-jawed Katy tries to process it. So begins the thrilling, minutes-long action sequence that kicks Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings into action overdrive. It’s a stunning Speed-like seat-of-the-pants set piece that finds the Martial Artist Formerly Known as Shaun engaging in fierce, close-quarters battle with the hulking machete-armed Razor Fist (Creed II’s Florian Munteanu) while Katy desperately tries to take the wheel of the out-of-control bus hurling down the hilly streets of San Fran.
It’s a breathtakingly rousing scene to watch — made all the more impressive upon hearing how the actors fought through multiple injuries to film the sequence on an actual bus in the Destin Daniel Cretton-directed film.
“It was such a tight space, thank you for bringing that up,” Liu says with a laugh during a virtual cast interview with Yahoo Entertainment (watch above). “We shot the movie in Sydney, Australia. We actually shipped two full-size San Francisco buses over to our soundstage and put them up on gimbals and airbags so that they could move around, and basically threw Florian and myself and [Awkwafina] in there. And they’re like, ‘All right, follow the choreography.’
“And it’s one thing to follow choreography in a tight space that’s not moving. But it’s another thing altogether when the gimbals are rocking you left and right and there’s wind blowing. So I feel like, just speaking for me, I injured myself grievously on almost every appendage that stuck out in that bus. And I’m like four inches shorter than Florian, and probably like, I don’t know, 400 pounds lighter. So I can’t imagine what it must have been like for him.”
Let’s hear it from the Romanian-born Munteanu.
“The space in that bus was so tight, both of us, we were sent to … the hospital multiple times,” the actor confirms. “It was just meant to be a tight place like that, [so] we injure ourselves. But that’s the commitment you have to bring to the table in order to create fight scenes like that, and I’m very happy that you mentioned that bus scene because I know Simu and myself were working our asses off to create something incredible so I appreciate it.”
Liu has the perfect idea for a grudge match for a sequel.
“Maybe if there is a Shang-Chi 2, if we’re so lucky, we should have a fight scene in a bouncy castle, I’m just saying.”
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is now in theaters.
— Video produced by Anne Lilburn and edited by Jason Fitzpatrick
Watch the cast talk about making Marvel’s first Asian-lead superhero movie: