There’s a lot of great fight scenes in Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, but the most striking (pun not intended) is also its first. Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) and Katy (Awkwafina) are simply trying to take a San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority — or “Muni” to locals — bus to their jobs as valets, when they’re attacked by members of the Ten Rings’ crime organisation, including Razor Fist (Florian Munteanu), and some extremely close-quarters combat ensues. But how accurate was the bus driving?
Now we know, courtesy of Twitter user that_mc, an actual San Francisco-based bus operator who watched the movie this past Saturday, presumably after it premiered on Disney+ during all the Disney+ Day shenanigans. They go into a remarkable amount of detail, but there’s really two major points worth noting, and that’s 1) the behaviour of the bus driver, and 2) what would actually happen if a guy with a sword for an arm sliced through the air pressure hose that allowed the breaks to work.
The first is very clear-cut. The bus driver absolutely should not have been driving while he had headphones on, he should have used his mirror to see what the commotion was in the back of the bus instead of looking over his shoulder (to keep his eyes on the road), and he should have pulled over and stopped the bus immediately once the fists started flying. Also, he should have absolutely had his seatbelt on, meaning he wouldn’t have fallen off the driver’s seat when he was knocked unconscious.
The spring brake held open by air pressure. If there is no pressure, the brake is applied, and the wheels will not turn. Air brakes have a warning, that is audible as a very loud, continuous buzzer, whenever the air pressure drops below a certain threshold.
— Mack, yes, That Mack (@that_mc) November 13, 2021
As for the brake, apparently San Francisco buses (probably most buses, honestly) are equipped with a “spring brake.” As this operator explains, “Energy sword arm man cut the brake lines, which would let all the air out of the system. When this happens, a backup, mechanical brake called the Spring Brake activates. The spring brake held open by air pressure. If there is no pressure, the brake is applied, and the wheels will not turn.” So when the hose was cut, instead of hurtling through the streets of San Francisco at top speed, the bus would have come to a very immediate halt.
Honestly, his entire breakdown of the scene is fun and weirdly satisfying to read — I highly recommend checking it out. Now, if only a real Dweller-in-Darkness could go over Shang-Chi’s final act for me…