Shang-Chi’s Stunt Coordinator Reveals How They Really Shot The Bus Fight – Exclusive
The bus fight at the start of “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is one of the most critical parts of the movie. Introductions are everything for new heroes, and this scene establishes Shang-Chi and his skill set to the world. It’s how the audience learns that this child we saw only a few scenes ago is still a great fighter, it shows Katy how little she knows about her best friend, and it shows the citizens of the Marvel universe that there’s a new superhero out there, this time in San Francisco.
The fight was coordinated by Andy Cheng, an alumni of the Jackie Chan Stunt Team. Cheng has been coordinating fights for a couple decades now, in everything from superhero fare like 2003’s “Daredevil” to, of all things, “Twilight.” Looper spoke with Cheng, who broke down how the bus fight came together — from the alternate plans to the roller coaster-like second bus.
Planning two critical scenes
Two scenes in particular rotated through multiple versions: the first punch, and the jacket spot.
For the first punch, Cheng tells us that there were “many, many different versions. I would say close to ten different versions. This version comes from Chris Cowan because originally, since he never wanted to fight, he’s hiding from his girlfriend, Katie, so he doesn’t want to show he is a martial artist. He doesn’t want to show he knows how to fight.” In earlier versions, “[the moment] he started fighting is much, much later, but now, as you see in the movie, he starts right away. That is a little change from the original plan.”
Regarding the jacket spot, “I came up with maybe 20 different kinds of [scenes involving] the jacket. We just said, ‘Okay, we want to play with the jacket, we’ll try something.’ So we came up with many different things. We took off the whole jacket and put it back, and then we used the jacket as a weapon.” Eventually they decided on doing a spot that mirrors Jackie Chan’s use of a jacket as a weapon in “Rumble in the Bronx.”
There was also a ton of rehearsal and planning for how Shang-Chi would remove the jacket: “It doesn’t go long because some of the versions will feel a little too long. This needs about five to ten seconds. This one’s like three, four seconds, and then right away. … You’re off the shoulder, and then you went in and then come back, so it’s kind of faster.”
The bus itself
“Even during our rehearsal in Los Angeles,” Cheng recalls, “we already had the bus. Those poles are always there. It’s a real bus, with everything. And then when we do the fight, when something is in our way or something for which we need a safety or if it’s for the camera, we will take it out and put it back. We are always moving around with that.” Certain parts of the bus were later taken out or re-added via CGI to compensate for what action was needed at the time, but everything was shot and directed as if it were there.
They also used more than one set. “We had two buses set up onto the gimbal for moving,” he recounted. “We have one bus that is on the one-meter-high platform, so very low to the ground. They [can use that one for] the regular driving and shaking. And then we built one about five meters high, and then that one can do the rollercoaster tipping or any crazy movements.” That movement from that height made more than a few people nauseous, including the extras and Cretton himself: “That’s why we do spend a lot of time rehearsing with everyone, the passengers, and even the camera crew.”
“Shang-Chi” is now on Disney+ and all other major digital platforms, and will be available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on November 30.