‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings‘ is the next film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 4 which is directed by Destin Daniel Cretton and co-produced by Kevin Feige. I should disclose that I have never read a Shang-Chi comic book with the character created by writer Steve Englehart and artist Jim Starlin. Thus, I am reviewing this as a blank slate.
Shaun (Simu Liu) is living in San Franciso eeking out a living as a valet with his friend Katy (Awkwafina), but all that changes when a thug named Razor Fist (Florian Munteanu) attacks him and steals his amulet. He reveals to Katy that he is actually Shang-Chi, the son of Xu Wenwu (Tony Leung), the leader of the Ten Rings criminal organization. Together, they go find his sister Xu Xialing (Meng’er Zhang) who has a duplicate amulet. When they arrive, they fund Wenwu has set a trap for them and captures them, telling them their dead mother Ying Li (Fala Chen) is calling to him from beyond a gate in the legendary realm of Ta Lo, though Shang-Chi begins to doubt his father’s intentions.
The cast does a good job. Nobody is “blow me away” amazing, but I felt they did well with what was written for them. Simu Liu was decent in the role as Shang-Chi. He had a charm and charisma to him that made the character. Awkwafina was a tad bit annoying, but her character had some decent moments and decent development. Of course, Michelle Yeoh has a role in the last act that was pretty awesome and was cool to see on the screen.
Speaking of the characters, this leads me to one of three problems I had with it.
First, Xu Xialing was a missed opportunity. It was not the fault of actress Meng’er Zhang, who did her best with the writing, but the screenplay really misused her. They characterized her as this sort of tropey “girl power” persona that felt amateurish as if the writers were doing a character for a Nickelodeon original movie. Again, not the actress’s fault, but she was given some pretty bad writing.
Secondly, the movie relies too heavily on CGI. I am not one of these “cool kid” reviewers who are like, “CGI is stoopid.” I happen to like CGI, but it seems this movie used it in certain sequences when it was unnecessary and you could tell.
I will pause here to say that I actually liked this movie. Though it comes across as more of a wannabe Jackie Chan flick than a Martial Arts epic, I had a good time. Watching a family torn apart by a father’s greedy desires and grief, plus the story of coming to terms with your own destiny was stated simply, but it was good.
I feel the movie has been over-criticized because Marvel execs and some of the movie’s stars have said stupid things ahead of its release. True, but looking at it objectively, I actually had a good time and found it a fun thrill-ride that, a cool look at an unknown world, and was a pretty good adventure into an unknown part of the MCU.
This comes to my final note on the film. You can tell the golden era of the MCU is over. This is the true flaw of the movie: it feels like a Disney movie, not a Marvel film. It lacks the ambition that made the first three phases of the MCU so enthralling. Sure, it had all of the hallmarks of a Disney plot, sans the foul language, but not that classic Marvel vibe, making it feel out of place. Yes, I did enjoy this feature, I could feel what was missing as well.
Bottom line, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a fun Martial Arts film that you can have a good time while watching this quest.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Violence, Some strong foul language
FAVORITE QUOTE: I thought I could change my name, start a new life… but I could never escape his shadow.
Check out the trailer below:
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my movie reviews of Injustice and Vacation Friends. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.
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