Andy Cheng from ‘Shang-Chi’ on How the Next Asian Superhero (EXCLUSIVE)

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Andy cheng received huge congratulations as bus scene fight choreographer in Marvel’s recent “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”. The scene took nearly a year to plan and execute, and serves to demonstrate Simu Liu’s previously hidden skills to an open-mouthed Awkwafina, and has since been posted by Marvel as a standalone YouTube clip.

Cheng is now working hard to try and shape the next Asian superhero as an action director, stunt coordinator and fight choreographer on “Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya“, a live-action adaptation of hit Japanese animation property” Saint Seiya. “Filming for the film wrapped up last week in Budapest, Hungary.

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“We don’t have the same time or the same budget available as on ‘Shang Chi’. But the goal is absolutely the same, ”said Cheng Variety. “To create something very unique that is rooted in Asian culture and has universal appeal. “

The Estate started out as a 1980s comic book (manga) series about five mystical warriors known as saints, who wear special outfits and have sworn to defend the reincarnated Greek goddess Athena who is threatened by other Olympian deities . Animation Toei adapted it into different formats of animated series (anime) and three animated films.

The decision to give “Knights” a live-action dimension is also supported by Toei Animation, which is part of one of the oldest and most powerful Japanese film studios. The company sees “Knights” as the first part of a movie franchise that could feature six or seven separate films. He gave it an unconfirmed budget of nearly $ 60 million.

While still in production, “Knights” already provided worldwide distribution (excluding Japan, China and the Middle East) through the Hollywood studio Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions.

Working from a screenplay by Josh Campbell and Matt Stuecken, the film is directed by Tomasz Baginski, the Polish animator and special effects artist who previously worked on “The Witcher”. It stars Sean Bean, Famke Janssen and Madison Iseman, with 24 years old Mackenyu in the title role of Pegasus Seiya.

Actor Mackenyu with & # x002018; Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya & # x002019;  - Credit: Knights of the Zodiac

Actor Mackenyu starring in “Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya” – Credit: Knights of the Zodiac

Knights of the Zodiac

Mackenyu is the Los Angeles-born son of late Japanese action star Sonny Chiba, and has to date had a career mostly centered in Japan. His escape there took place in the action trilogy “Chihayafuru”, with recent highlights including roles in “Rurouni Kenshin: The Final” and his previous biggest English title “Pacific Rim: Uprising”.

Hong Kong-born Cheng, who was on the Jackie Chan Stunt team for many years and has credits such as “Rush Hour” and the Netflix action hit “6 Underground,” says the performer and the new role together have what it takes to launch the next Asian superhero and propel Mackenyu to the rank of major international celebrity.

“Mackenyu is the complete package. He’s good-looking enough to work with little makeup, has a fantastic body and, thanks to his father, has been steeped in martial arts from a young age, ”says Cheng. Unlike many other Asian martial artists who have sparkled on the international film scene, Mackenyu performs in English as a native speaker.

Cheng says the world of cinema has room for more than one Asian superhero and for those who come from outside the Marvel comic book universe. “I don’t care where they’re from. Superheroes are important to all races. They are something that children admire. But in this department, Asia has been under-represented, ”says Cheng, who believes the industry is already changing perspective. “China is now the world’s largest box office market. The money is in Asia.

Cheng says “Knights” is Asian made, rather than a Hollywood product. At the same time, the producers and writers were careful not to overwhelm Western audiences by projecting all the fantasy details of comics and series onto the screen.

“This is definitely a first movie, the one where we introduce the hero. We are deliberately trying not to make the story too important,” Cheng explains. “I was given enormous creative freedom, even as a editor, and it’s a responsibility I take seriously.

“We chose to create a look close to the original material and a story adapted from the originals. But the action is not the same. It just can’t be as fast as you see it on the pages of a comic book.

“In the West, martial arts movies have been seen as B-series content for too long. ‘Shang-Chi’ can help change that. It was like the first ball in favor of Asian film culture. ‘Knights of the Zodiac’ can be the double tap, ”explains Cheng, who says he has no current plans other than working on the next films in the franchise.

Shooting of the bus scene in “Shang-Chi.”

Shooting of the bus scene in “Shang-Chi”.

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