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Paul Solar-Hyung Lee talks Asian illustration in ‘Avatar: The Final Airbender’ – Nationwide

Paul Solar-Hyung Lee talks Asian illustration in ‘Avatar: The Final Airbender’ - Nationwide


Followers of Avatar: The Final Airbender have been ready for this present day for a very long time: the discharge of a live-action adaptation that lastly captures the spirit and magic of the unique beloved cartoon.

The cult basic cartoon aired for 3 seasons on Nickelodeon beginning in 2005 and hasn’t left the zeitgeist since, even after a disappointing live-action film got here out in 2010 directed by M. Evening Shyamalan.

It’s a simple declare to make that Netflix’s Final Airbender blows the 2010 film out of the water — however it does a lot greater than that. It brings to life a world wealthy in magnificence and historical past whereas staying true to the whimsy that made the unique collection so particular. It’s without delay expansive in its scope and grounded in its characters, every thing you’d anticipate for a present a couple of group of, properly, simply children saving the world.

Avatar: The Final Airbender tells the story of the Avatar, a “chosen one” character who’s the one particular person on Earth who can grasp all 4 components: earth, wind, air and fireplace. In The Final Airbender, our younger protagonist Aang is simply that, the final of his form after a genocide wipes out his individuals. In his quest to tackle the conquering Fireplace Nation, Aang picks up pals alongside the way in which and audiences get taken on a journey that showcases the distinctive nations related to every component, primarily based on Inuit, East Asian and South Asian cultures.

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Indigenous and Asian illustration is abound in Netflix’s eight-episode collection, one thing that was sorely lacking within the 2010 film. International Information sat down with South Korean-Canadian actor Paul Solar-Hyung Lee, finest recognized for his position as Appa on Kim’s Comfort, to speak about taking up the enduring character of Uncle Iroh and the way Asian illustration in media has modified since he first grew to become an actor.

“Once I began off, it felt like a desolate wasteland, the place you type of felt doomed to without end play a gang member or comfort retailer proprietor, or a physician or lawyer or no matter,” Lee stated. “Characters that have been simply window dressing and probably not characters, however extra decorations, human decorations that have been sprinkled within the background to point out variety however have been by no means those that have been the centre of consideration or those that drove the narrative.”

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Coming off a serious growth in Asian cinema and various casting, Lee says “we live in a golden age, and I like it as a result of it’s a motion and never a pattern.”

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Lee says it’s an inspiration to see “a narrative like this on this scale, the epicness of it and the sweeping adventures, and never solely that, seeing Asian characters on the forefront who’re driving the narrative.”

“If you see your tradition, your individuals, individuals who appear like you as heroes as an alternative of villains, it makes a world of distinction,” Lee stated. “I believe a present like Avatar will put one other stamp in that historical past guide and say, ‘Hey, let’s open up extra chapters and maintain constructing on this.’”


Paul Solar-Hyung Lee as Iroh in season 1 of ‘Avatar: The Final Airbender.’.

Robert Falconer/Netflix

Lee revealed that he watched The Final Airbender for the primary time in 2017, on the advice of certainly one of his Kim’s Comfort co-stars.

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“She stated, ‘You’ve received to observe this present. It’s most likely a few of the finest tv I’ve ever watched.’ So I sat and watched all three books. I believed, that is implausible. After which very shortly after that, it was introduced that it was being developed by Netflix right into a stay motion remake. And I received fan-casted by hundreds of individuals, which was like, actually, actually nice.”

When Lee received into his Iroh costume with full hair and make-up for the primary time, he cried.

“The primary time I noticed the complete look, I cried as a result of, there he was. And he’s me. Like, I’m him. It was loopy how transformative it’s,” Lee stated.

“And you then see everyone else present up and everyone’s in costume … and it’s like they plucked them from the cartoon and put them proper in entrance of you. And as a fan, it doesn’t get any higher than that,” Lee added. “It’s so magical.”

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Lee additionally talked about a few of the darker themes of The Final Airbender, and the way they strike such a chord with youthful audiences.

“It’s nearly like a gateway to to discover the occasions which can be taking place round them at present. It helps them to grasp the dynamic of the true world and what’s happening. It provides them parallels. And it’s an excellent dialog starter, too, like, ‘Oh, that is similar to the Fireplace Nation desirous to take over and, , colonizing all these totally different kingdoms.’”

However The Final Airbender shouldn’t be all doom and gloom, Lee notes; it’s as a lot about self-discovery and discovering out who you really are.

“You’ve received to determine who you actually are and what you need, as a result of that’s your life. And, , your dad and mom or different individuals may need you to do sure issues, however on the finish of the day, it’s your life. And so what are you going to do with that? And I believe this message is nice as a result of it may be inspiring. It may be contagious,” Lee stated. “I believe much more individuals in life could be happier in the event that they have been in a position to ask themselves that query and actually come to these solutions and pursue that happiness.”

Threading that line between The Final Airbender’s themes of battle and environmental destruction with its give attention to the transformative energy of affection and friendship is one thing the Netflix adaptation does seamlessly.

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Concern and loss push these characters to do horrible issues, however on the finish of the day, historical past is altered by a bunch of youngsters who gained’t let go of their hope.

The 4 nations are rendered in spectacular style, the bending and battle scenes are stunningly fluid and the on-screen chemistry of the primary solid is so pure for a bunch of youngsters and teenagers compelled to develop up a bit too early.

The problem of condensing the unique 24-episode first season of The Final Airbender into an eight-episode arc are on show in a few of the cracks of this collection. The plot strikes at a breakneck tempo with out a lot time for Aang, or the viewers, to take a seat with the teachings realized alongside the way in which. The present additionally makes adjustments to the intentions behind Aang’s character that take away from his improvement and preliminary concern of assuming his position because the Avatar.

The present makes up for a few of these adjustments by making certain audiences get tons of fan service. There are quite a few nods to a few of The Final Airbender’s most iconic scenes and inside jokes.

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In all, followers of the present are certain to be impressed with the visible majesty on-screen, even when Netflix’s adaption doesn’t fairly attain the identical peaks of the unique collection.

‘Avatar: The Final Airbender’ is obtainable to stream Thursday, Feb. 22, on Netflix.





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