Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a 2021 American superhero film based on Marvel Comics featuring the character Shang-Chi. It is the 25th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film is directed by Destin Daniel Cretton from a screenplay he wrote with Dave Callaham and Andrew Lanham, from a story by Cretton and Callaham. It stars Simu Liu as Shang-Chi alongside Awkwafina, Meng'er Zhang, Fala Chen, Florian Munteanu, Benedict Wong, Michelle Yeoh, Ben Kingsley, and Tony Leung.
Martial-arts master Shang-Chi confronts the past he thought he left behind when he's drawn into the web of the mysterious Ten Rings organization.
Shang-Chi is the type of film I love to watch but hate to review, because I don't have much to say outside of go see it. It's a really good film that I loved. The action was great, the characters were really good, the CGI was really well done, and the film was simply entertaining.
I didn't know who Shang-Chi was or any of the comics, but I definitely want to see more of him. This film is one of the better origin stories I've seen in the MCU. It felt more like an introduction to this character rather than a straight up origin story, which I thought was a great decision. I loved the first phase of Marvel. That was my childhood and I have a soft spot for those films, but outside of Iron Man, those origin stories weren't the best and often times the worst in their respective series. This is pretty much the official start of the next saga in the MCU, which means we're going to get some new characters, and I didn't want them to go backwards like Captain Marvel. To me that film felt dated, like it belonged in 2010. Here they thankfully didn't do that, and that really gives me hope for the rest of the origin stories, particularly for the Eternals.
I'm not going to get into spoilers yet, but I really loved the villain. He was seriously emotional and very well written. In terms of Marvel villains, I definitely think he's among the best. Another great thing was the fact that this felt like a Shang-Chi story. Similar to Black Widow, this film was contained to this family and felt special.
At its heart, this film is a Kung-Fu movie that explores the more mythical side of Chinese culture, and it has amazing results for the most part. I had two problems with this film. The first is that it follows the Marvel formula. Now I don't mind formulas especially when they work, and with the massive success of the MCU, it's very clear that they do work. However, it felt as if the filmmakers were left constrained by the formula which is the complete opposite of what it's supposed to be. The third act almost felt like an entirely different film. For the first two thirds of this film, it's a really cool and emotional Kung-Fu family drama, but the final act was a standard Marvel fantasy film.
It felt so disconnected from the rest of the story. And don't get me wrong it looked cool, but I didn't know exactly what was happening. We had a big CGI fight at the end when we didn't need one, and most of what happens at the end isn't established until the end. It's like having a standard WW2 film turn into a zombie movie at the very end with no buildup. I'm not even saying it's bad because it does look very cool and it's fun, but when you're winning the race only to suddenly change strategy and come in second place you have to ask why.
That also leads to my second problem which is that the film lacks closure. This film is about Shang-Chi, his father, and his sister, and how they're forced to confront their past. The main drama and conflict is between these three characters, but in the third act it shifts to another one. I thought the film sidelined everything it built up to give us a Marvel ending. I wanted to see Shang-Chi and his sister's relationship actually get closure before he ended things with his dad, because that's what the story builds up to. Most of Shang-Chi's character revolves around him dealing with his past, but that and his father gets sidelined for the CGI monster.
Overall, it's a great film unfortunately derailed by a disappointing third act, but it's still a film everyone should see and one I think everyone would enjoy.
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The cast was great. Simu Liu was great in this film. I'm unfamiliar with this actor, but he was charismatic, funny, and entertaining. We're seeing a star in the making. You can tell that he trained and actually did a lot of his stunts and choreography. I would love to see him in some traditional Kung-Fu movies, he was really good.
He also had great chemistry with Awkwafina, who is an actress I love, but her roles can be hit or miss for me. Like most comedians, you can either find it funny or annoying. Thankfully, I found her performance really sincere and charming. She's funny and allowed to be the comedic relief, but I didn't think the comedy ever got in the way of the story or derailed the emotion like some previous Marvel film.
The entire cast was really great.
There's not a lot to spoil in this film, but I do want to talk about the father. He was a great villain. The story revolves around him wanting to save his wife who he believes is alive and trapped behind this gate. He was a really well written character and really reminded me of Killmonger in terms of him being really understandable. And I loved the family drama aspects that he brought.
There was also a great action scene on the bus and I hope the future films are like this. I don't want to see Shang-Chi using the rings too much, I would love if his weapon of choice was still Kung-Fu.
There's a couple of surprises. Wong shows up with Abomination, who I didn't even recognize until after a watched a YouTube video.That goes to show that Hulk is still the most forgetful MCU film. Ben Kingsley makes a surprising return as the Mandarin in a strange but hilarious performance. Ben Kingsley to me is always a win and they poked fun and some of the less than great films.
There's also a really interesting post credit scene with Wong, Captain Marvel, and a surprisingly human Bruce Banner where they can't figure out where the 10 rings came from but it's someone kind of beacon. So a very interesting future for the MCU.
The third act was ultimately disappointing to me. To best sum up my opinion of this film, it won second place at the Olympics when it could've won first. I hope this review isn't too negative because I did really love this film. It had great action, beautiful choreography, amazing visuals, and a really good story with fantastic characters. The only problem was the third act, but overall it's a great film that everybody should see.
In terms of ranking, I think this is at the top of the middle with the likes of Doctor Strange. In the end, Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings was a great film and an excellent start to the next chapter of Marvel.
© 2021 Royce Proctor Jr