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The latest actor to become a Marvel movies star is Simu Liu, who leads Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (now in theaters) as the titular martial arts master, who is hitting the big screen for the first time since his comic book debut in 1973. For some audiences, this new, action-packed adventure flick may be their first introduction to the Chinese-born, Canadian-raised 32-year-old actor, but some others may be scratching their heads trying to remember where else they might recognize him from. The following list of movies and TV shows may act as a much-needed refresher of Liu’s career for the latter or a refreshing exploration of it for the former. We shall start with his first collaboration with a fellow Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings cast member.
Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens (HBO Max)
A young woman of Chinese descent (Awkwafina) struggles to navigate her late 20s while living in Flushing, New York, with her father (B.D. Wong), grandmother (former Orange is the New Black cast member Lori Tan Chinn), and cousin (Emmy-nominated Saturday Night Live star Bowen Yang) often coming to her helpful aid.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Simu Liu: Before they played close friends in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Simu Liu guest starred on a Season 1 episode of Awkwafina’s semi-autobiographical Comedy Central original series Awakwafina is Nora from Queens as a character referred to as “Garbage Boy” - one of two men Nora’s grandmother claims she had to choose between in the story of how she met her husband, all told in the style of an over-the-top Korean drama.
Fresh Off The Boat (Hulu)
The cultural and professional struggles of a restauranteur (fellow Marvel actor Randall Park), his wife (Crazy Rich Asians cast member Constance Wu), and their family after immigrating to the United States from Taiwan in the 1990s are seen through the eyes of their son, Eddie Huang (Hudson Yang), who will one day grow up to be a real-life celebrity chef.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Simu Liu: Another great TV show centered on Asian characters which Simu Liu has guest-starred on is Fresh Off the Boat - the recently ended ABC sitcom which saw the Shang-Chi actor play a noodle vendor named Willie, who teaches young Eddie (Hudson Yang) a newfound respect for is immigrant parents’ accomplishments during a trip to Taiwan, in a Season 5 episode.
Kim’s Convenience (Netflix)
The social and professional struggles of a convenience store owner (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee), his wife (Jean Yoon), and their family years after immigrating to Toronto, Canada, from South Korea.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Simu Liu: Another great TV show centered on Asian characters which Simu Liu was a series regular on is Kim’s Convenience, the recently cancelled Canadian sitcom on which the actor played Jung Kim - the son of the owners of the titular one-stop-shop who works at a car rental company instead, mainly because of the rebellious behavior that got him kicked out of the house as a teen.
Corner Gas Animated (IMDb TV)
The social and professional struggles for Brent Leroy (star and creator Brent Butt), the owner of an obscure gas station located in the middle of nowhere somewhere in Canada, and his friends and customers, who often frequent a nearby coffee shop.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Simu Liu: Another acclaimed Canadian sitcom centered around a small business is Corner Gas Animated - the animated counterpart to the cult hit comedy Corner Gas (one of the writers of which also wrote for Kim’s Convenience) - which sees Simu Liu make his voice acting debut in a Season 4 guest appearance as a hypnotist named Gerald Mesmerizer.
Antisocial 2 (Tubi, IMDb TV, Vudu)
Years after surviving a deadly epidemic that broke out in Canada one fateful New Year’s Eve, Sam (Letterkenny cast member Michelle Mylett) searches for her child in a world still overrun by victims of the viral effects of the Social Redroom website. She soon must figure out how to escape a facility trying to find a cure before the final stage of the social media platform’s attack comes into effect.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Simu Liu: Simu Liu would also break out into Canadian horror movies with a modest role as a nurse in 2015’s Antisocial 2 - the sequel to writer and director Cody Calahan’s intense, satirical thriller from 2013 - which doubles down on its damning social media commentary this time.
A woman tormented by a copycat murderer after returning to the small town where her parents were killed, the diverse residents of an apartment complex are stalked by a brutal, mysterious villain, and other grisly stories each make up the individual seasons of this killer series.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Simu Liu: Simu Liu would also break out into Canadian horror TV shows with his brief, but prominent, role on the Friday the 13th-esque Season 2 of Slasher - a seasonal horror anthology series that was originally exclusive to Netflix that recently became an exclusive Shudder TV show for its fourth season - which follows a group of former camp counsellors returning to the site of a grave mistake they made years earlier.
Bad Blood (Netflix)
A successful mafia boss (Emmy winner and former Without a Trace cast member Anthony LaPaglia) suddenly finds that the impenetrable criminal empire he built himself is starting to fall following his arrest for the murders of three members of a rival gang in early 1980s Montreal.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Simu Liu: Another great series produced in Canada but distributed exclusively in the United States on Netflix is Bad Blood, on which Simu Liu had a recurring role for the first season of co-creators Michael Konyves and Simon Barry’s episodic dramatization of the rise and fall of the real-life Italian-Canadian crime family, headed by the late Vito Rizzuto.
The Expanse (Prime Video)
In the 24th Century, the entire solar system has been colonized, but the leader of an interplanetary ice freighter ship (Steven Strait) and his crew accidentally uncover a conspiracy that appears threatening to the increasingly tense relationship between the Earth, Mars, and asteroid belt, which forces them to become unlikely heroes in the fight for peace.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Simu Liu: Another great series partially produced in Canada but distributed exclusively on Amazon Prime Video (after its first three seasons aired on SyFy) is The Expanse - the acclaimed sci-fi TV show based on the series of novels by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck (collectively known as James S. A. Corey) - on which Simu Liu had a recurring Season 3 role as Pablo Meyer, an ill-fated lieutenant of the Martian Marine Corps.
Taken (Amazon Purchase)
In the NBC TV series, former Green Beret (Clive Standen) reeling from a personal tragedy (the brutal murder of his own sister) is given the opportunity to use his “particular set of skills” to make himself “a nightmare for people” like the ones who have caused him pain for a potentially “long career” as a CIA operative.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Simu Liu: Simu Liu would also break out into American crime dramas with his role on the premiere season of Taken - NBC’s short-lived, episodic prequel to the hit action movie franchise of the name starring Liam Neeson - on which he played Faaron, a member of the team that helps a younger Bryan Mills on his various, increasingly dangerous missions.
Simu Liu also has a role on Disney+’s upcoming, Anime-inspired anthology series Star Wars: Visions, will star alongside Mark Wahlberg in the fact-based adventure story Arthur the King, and will once again play one of two men whom a lovelorn woman (played by Hamilton cast member Phillipa Soo) is forced to choose between in the romance One True Loves, which is currently in pre-production. Not to mention, I have no doubt that Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will lead to plenty more appearances in upcoming superhero movies for the rising star.
Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
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