Movie: “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”
Release Date: Sept. 3, 2021
Runtime: 2 hours 12 minutes
Genre: Action, Fantasy
After 24 films, the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to impress, proved by the latest installment to its massive lineup of heroes. “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is simply further proof Marvel can take some of the most obscure characters from its endless library of comics and make an entertaining and memorable movie out of them, reminiscent of what the company did with films such as “Guardians of the Galaxy” or “Ant-Man.”
The film follows the title character as he is reunited with his complicated father to mutually deal with the loss of the heart of their family. While on the surface it may seem like a simple plot, the steps of that story are more than worth the price of admission.
Starring a predominantly Asian cast, with actors like Simu Liu, Awkwafina and Tony Leung, the film feels like a love letter to the classic martial arts films of the '80s and '90s. The fight scenes and choreography of the movie are some of the best and most memorable in the entire MCU.
Additionally, the film is beautiful. Visually, the cinematography is excellent which adds to both the spectacle of the action and the emotions of the heartfelt moments in the movie (of which there are a surprising amount). Combined with Chinese fantasy elements and brilliant action choreography, there are so many moments one could frame as art.
Many of these heartfelt moments can be attributed to the protagonist's acting. Liu does an amazing job portraying Shang-Chi. He does this even at a disadvantage, given that most viewers are unfamiliar with the character in the comics. However, by the end of the movie I guarantee you will be wanting to know when you can see him on screen again.
Something else that the film does successfully is breaking one of the MCUs prominent trends. In many Marvel films movies, the villains tend to be the worst part of the movies. With the notable exceptions of villains like Thanos or Loki, most are otherwise forgettable and do nothing but serve the role of an obstacle for the hero to defeat.
This is not the case with Wenwu, otherwise known as “The Mandarin.” Leung’s performance as Wenwu steals the show.
What could have easily been another entry on the list of uninteresting bad guys, serving only to have the hero triumph over them, is made frighteningly compelling and sympathetic.
Aside from the powerhouse performances, the film also has excellent comedy. The jokes in this movie don’t feel forced or quippy in the way that some of the past MCU films have felt.
Lastly, it's worth noting what this movie means for Asian fans of the MCU. Writing as an Asian-American myself, this movie is an absolute joy to watch. So many details in this movie made me felt seen and represented which is something I don’t really get to say about most of the media I watch.
All in all, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is an amazing addition to one of cinemas most beloved franchises. While the trailers may not have given us much excitement, I can guarantee that it is an absolute must-watch for Marvel fans.