Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings | An Ode to Asian Cinema with a Marvel Spin

After Marvel has been killing it with their TV series Wandavision, TFATWS, and a surprising entry with Black Widow, the studio is back is another block buster directed by Destin Daniel Cretton (Just Mercy), who and co-wrote it with Andrew Lanham (The Kid) and Dave Callaham (WW84). The movie stars Simu Liu (Kim’s convenience) in the title role with Awkwafina (Nora from Queens), Tony Leung (The Grandmaster), Fala Chen (The Undoing), Michelle Yeoh (Crazy Rich Asians), Florian Munteanu (Creed II), and Meng’er Zhang rounding out the cast.

Premise: Following the events of Avengers: Endgame (2019), Shang-Chi is drawn into the clandestine Ten Rings organization, and is forced to confront the past he thought he left behind.

Review: This movie being about a superhero of color, some people might be tempted to compare this movie to Black Panther, but unlike Asian cinema black cinema is not as expansive and widely known. So where Ryan Coogler‘s built upon black cinema, Destin Daniel Cretton paid homage to the various Asian films has while creating his own world within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Cretton seamlessly mixes western and East Asian movie production styles in Shang-Chi.

The plot is quite compelling, it focuses on the family and a good chunk of it is on the antagonist that we get to know and understand fully. The rest of the MCU is referenced to point out that it’s all connected but this movie is mostly self-contained and centered on Shang-Chi’s family. There’s enough cool world building for the film to stand on its own, because the story spans throughout time with many flashbacks establishing each characters. The mix of different production styles and genres allow each of the action sequences to have a unique look and feel.
The fight choreography is an absolute joy to watch, it’s next level, because they really lean into the martial art aspect of the film. It also looks new and fresh with great cinematography and visual effects. However, the bigger and crazier the fights gets, the more it looks like any old Marvel VFX action sequence instead – meaning it’s good but not as exciting as it once was. I’m talking about a particular sequence in the third act, it’s cool to look at, if you can follow it. Since it’s Marvel, there’s humour throughout but it’s used well, it doesn’t take away from drama and gravitas of the film.

The cast is top notch, they are great and each are given cool character moments throughout the film. Simu Liu and Awkwafina make for a great duo, Leung is amazing, and the rest of the ladies are simply great.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a fun action movie with many surprises making it a top MCU film.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

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