Shang-Chi Director Breaks Down The Action-Packed Bus Fight

If you have 20 minutes to spare, you can embark on a video journey with director Destin Daniel Cretton as he breaks down the bus fight in "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings."

2021 has actually been a big year for bus fights in action movies. First, there was the rough-and-tumble brawl in "Nobody," which saw Bob Odenkirk throwing down with a gang of unruly bus passengers (without super powers). Then, there was the fight in "Shang-Chi," which upped the ante by pitting Simu Liu against a supervillain named Razor Fist and other assorted assassins aboard a bus in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The crazies really come out when you're riding public transportation. With all due respect to Odenkirk and his character, Hutch, Shang-Chi would probably knock him into next week, or just out the bus window, as we saw in "Nobody."

Speaking of time measurements, here comes that 20-minute video, courtesy of Vanity Fair and its "Notes on a Scene" YouTube series. In it, Cretton walks you through the anatomy of a bus fight in a Marvel movie.

The video shows you how much thought can go into a single movie scene. Cretton, who has a background in dramas like "Short Term 12" and "Just Mercy," has discussed how "Shang-Chi" is more a journey of self-discovery than a superhero movie. Here he talks, among other things, about maintaining emotional beats between characters even in the midst of an action-packed fight.

Destin Daniel Cretton on the Bus Fight in Shang-Chi

It's interesting to hear Cretton describe the bus fight as a scene with its own three-act structure. As he tells it, the Act I turn is when Razor Fist deploys his signature weapon. Then, it's game on.

Evidently, Cretton used "a lot of what-if scenarios" when he pitched the scene to Marvel. And no, he's not talking about what-ifs in the sense of Marvel's multiversal animated series, "What If...?" He's talking about questions like: what if this wasn't just a one-on-one fight? What if Shang-Chi had to face down a group of six to ten assassins? What if the brakes on the bus went out and it careened down a steep slope in San Francisco?

A nasty headbutt to Awkwafina's face makes Shang-Chi spring into action. For this fight, they shot punches at 120 frames per second and CGI-ed in poles to give the actors more room to maneuver on set. If you were wondering about the reversible-jacket gag, that was directly inspired by Jackie Chan in "Rumble in the Bronx."

The scene was the result of a whole team of choreographers working together, and hearing it broken down in such detail is fascinating stuff. "Shang-Chi" is in theaters now, and you'll be able to watch it at home starting November 12, 2021.