Legacies‘Olivia Liang becomes the center of attention as a student turned warrior in Kung Fu, premiered this Wednesday at 8 / 7c on The CW.
The series, which makes its way as the first network drama to feature a predominantly Asian-American cast, follows Nicky Chen (Liang), a huge hit who drops out of college and heads overseas after a crisis of a living room. After a life-changing trip to an isolated monastery in China, he returns home to find Saint Francis plagued with corruption and crime. Realizing her new destiny as the protector of the city, she will use her training to take on the local triad as she reconnects with her family and searches for the assassin who murdered her Shaolin mentor, Pei-Ling (Vanessa Kai).
Creator Christina M. Kim (Blind point, Lost) brings a new perspective to the remake, changing the script of the 1970s western drama starring David Carradine. While the original Kung Fu Centered its story around a white man, this new iteration puts its Asian and Asian-American cast, led by Liang, front and center. With the series scheduled to debut this week, Liang says the timing is staggering, given current events.
“It is almost jarring to see the contrast between what is happening in the world with hate crimes against Asians and the violence and rhetoric that is reported in the media, and then our show, where we are really celebrating what is be Asian, “he said. he tells TVLine. “I want to see more of that. I don’t want to just see the pain we are going through, although it is important to clarify it. I also want to see us going through joy, falling in love, experiencing good things in life, and our show will bring some of that to the screen. “
Liang adds that “the moment is very disturbing. Our showrunner and creator Christina Kim wrote this pilot over a year ago, and the fact that it’s so moving right now, we could never have predicted how relevant it would be. We always knew our show was going to be important, but it’s very unsettling how important it is now in April 2021. “
In the series, Nicky finds his voice through his training and undergoes a massive personal transformation. Liang, who had no prior martial arts experience, admits that he went through a similar journey while preparing for the role.
“I feel like a badass. I feel empowered, ”she shares. “This show is my first real experience with martial arts, and I feel so privileged to be able to learn it for my work. Doing these beautifully choreographed fight sequences really makes me feel strong, and it really translates into my personal life of feeling so much more powerful and so much taller and stronger and bigger and just ready to take over the world. “
In addition to Liang, the CW drama also stars Tzi Ma as Nicky’s father Jin Chen, a restaurant owner with secrets that could bring down his family business; Kheng Hua Tan as Nicky’s mother, Mei-Li Chen, who helped her husband with his business and also keeps harmful secrets; Jon Prasida as Nicky’s brother, Ryan Chen, a witty medical student; and Shannon Dang as Nicky’s sister Althea Chen, a computer whiz who just got engaged.
The series paints a multi-dimensional portrait of a Chinese-American family, with each of the Chens playing an important role in the story, including Nicky’s parents.
“What our writers have done so wonderfully is make this a multi-generational show,” Liang explains. “When we see parents on shows, they are not really the main story. They are only there to move the plot forward. But in our show, parents are a big part of every Nicky’s story, purpose, and drive. As the season progresses, and we see the love that Jin and Mei-Li have for each other, it infuses so much richness into the story and so much history into what they’re going through. I think it is something that has not been so well represented in the media and entertainment. This immigrant couple who have children fought for the ‘American Dream’, and seeing what they are going through is really beautiful. “
The show will see Nicky embark on a journey of self-discovery as he embraces his new destiny, tries to make amends with his family, and processes the death of his mentor.
“We found her trying to bridge the gap between the woman she was when she left and the woman she is now, and all these people she has to reconcile with who only know her as old Nicky,” Liang concludes.
With the returning warrior being pulled in different directions, she will be dealing with “this general trauma that she went through and this kind of final call to action on her part. master [mentor]. At the same time, he’s going to need to heal the relationships he left behind, so it’s like this double fish out of water story where he’s really just trying to find his place and place in the world.