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Upcoming ‘Kung Fu’ reboot more than just entertainment

In the wake of Anti-Asian racism, the creative team behind the show seeks to use their platform for good

Tzi Ma, one of the stars of ‘Kung Fu’ attends the premiere of Disney’s Mulan.
Veteran actor Tzi Ma is one of the stars of CW’s upcoming Kung Fu
Photo by Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic

When CW’s martial arts drama Kung Fu debuts April 7th, the energy surrounding the show might be different than the one the creators envisioned when the reboot was first conceived. While Anti-Asian racism is nothing new, Anti-Asian hate crimes increased by 150% in 2020.

In this atmosphere, the show’s creative team is well aware of the impact that their show might have on its audience. In an online panel promoting the new stunt-heavy drama, showrunner Christina M. Kim said, “I hope that we are part of the solution and having a show like ours on the air, you know, makes us part of the narrative and brings about cultural awareness acceptance.”

As previously covered on Bloody Elbow, Kung Fu stars Olivia Liang as Nicky Shen, a Chinese American who has been trained in martial arts at a Shaolin monastery. When she moves to San Francisco and her mentor is murdered, she must find the assassin and protect her new community from criminals and corruption.

Veteran actor Tzi Ma, who plays Liang’s father, addressed the violence against Asians in general, and the murders of eight people in Atlanta specifically, saying, “I’m not quite sure what the short-term fix is. I believe we are the long-term solution: to do our show, to show the world who we are, and hopefully those messages will come out loud and clear about representation, about inclusion. Those are part of our long-term goals. It pains me. Every day it happens. At first there was no coverage and then there’s coverage. Everyone I know and don’t know talked about it, from the president on down, including the House of Representatives, and it still goes on every day.”

Star Olivia Liang added to Ma’s statement. “So much about representation and inclusion is not so much that we as Asians need to see ourselves represented on the screens, but we need to be invited into people’s homes who don’t see us in everyday lives, just to humanize us, normalize seeing us, remind them that we are just like they are and have a place in this world. And hopefully having our show in their homes will expand that worldview for them.”

The Kung Fu trailer dropped March 8th, and features plenty of vigilante violence.