Michelle Yeoh and Jim Liu in "American Born Chinese."
CNN  — 

“American Born Chinese” feels like about three series crammed into one, which might explain why it takes so long to get into its story. Despite good moments and the benefit of fortuitous timing – featuring Michelle Yeoh and (briefly) Ke Huy Quan after their Oscar-winning work in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” – the intriguing mix of action, coming-of-age teen dramedy and fantasy never entirely gels.

Adapted from the graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang, the show begins promisingly enough with the tale of the Monkey King (“Into the Badlands” star Daniel Wu”) and his rebellious son (Jim Liu), who steals a magical staff whose absence threatens to endanger their kingdom.

The story then shifts to Jin (Ben Wang), a teenager dealing with the vagaries of high school and the expectations of his immigrant parents (Chin Yan, Yeo Yann Yann), who constantly seem to be bickering with each other, as mom prods dad to seek a promotion at work.

The strands gradually intersect, and the airborne, heavily stylized action – with the writing overseen by Kelvin Yu (“Bob’s Burgers”) and a pilot directed by Destin Daniel Cretton (“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”) – comes to include Yeoh, who plays Guanyin, the goddess of mercy, whose time on Earth amusingly includes wrestling with assembling Ikea furniture.

Still, the fact that it takes at least three of the eight-episode first season for the plot to kick in, and that a later chapter gets wholly devoted to the bad guy’s origin story, is one of those luxuries of a streaming series that can also be a trap – at least, compared to a movie, where there isn’t as much time for dawdling.

The more leisurely pacing does provide an opportunity to flesh out the parents, and Wang makes for a highly relatable and appealing lead. The series also takes a detour to include the renewed popularity of a ’90s sitcom featuring a broadly comic Asian actor (played by Quan), illustrating how subtly racism and stereotyping can creep into the conversation, while leaving Jin to contend with whether to be offended by that or the tone-deaf principal who saddles him with squiring around a newly arrived Chinese student.

That’s a lot to juggle, and the strain of all that wire-work stitching it together shows. To its credit, “American Born Chinese” represents a more ambitious approach to the kind of teen-oriented series that Disney Channel historically churns out with regularity, as well as a nuanced view of the Asian-American experience that Disney+ also explored with the recent movie “Chang Can Dunk.”

That said, given the creative auspices and talent (which also includes “Everything Everywhere’s” Stephanie Hsu in another smallish role), the show doesn’t fully meet its high expectations. It’s not bad, so far as it goes, but it does test one’s patience, especially for a series that on paper, anyway, appeared to have “Everything” going for it.

“American Born Chinese” premieres May 24 on Disney+.