Admittedly, we were scared when we settled into the cinema seat for Shang-Chi and the Legend of The Ten Rings . Because after the mixed reception (and editorial trauma) from everything that had to do with Iron Fist , the shock was in place. A kung fu movie, based on the character Shang-Chi. It sounded (and sounds) too good to be true. Of course, your faithful writer dreamed of a glorious entry into a genre that Marvel had little touched before. But then doubt set in. Can the MCU even credibly portray this film and characters in the divine context of the kung fu movie? The history of such films is difficult, to say the least. A tough job to tackle. But let there be no more doubt in you and our hearts.Shang-Chi and the Legend Of The Ten Rings proves perfectly how the fist should be on the arm.
Forget the MCU
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is one of Phase Four’s first films in the MCU, preceded by the Disney+ series and the Black Widow film . Anyone who expects major reveals in the context of the future of the MCU will leave the cinema disappointed. Because no, Shang-Chi is not a heavily loaded MCU story. What is it on the other hand? One of the best origin stories the MCU has to offer.
That is not to say that the film is not chock full of devious references and subtle winks to all kinds of films from the past. Every MCU detail is clearly distillable to the skilled eye. What’s more, we firmly believe that Shang-Chi has a ton of future Easter eggs hidden in the film, which we’ll only realize and discover later as Phase Four continues to roll out.
By the way, those who were extremely concerned about the potential lack or disrespect for diversity can also embrace this film. Although we as editors are not placed to estimate this in the best way, we feel that the film, like Black Panther , takes a lot of account of the culture in which the film is set. Marvel seems to understand very well how inclusive a movie should be and we can only applaud that.
Shang-Chi, same but different
Honestly, you don’t need to have seen any of the MCU movies to enjoy Shang-Chi . The film tells a down-to-earth story of an unsuspecting, not unspecial, lad in an American city, who suddenly finds himself at the center of the Ten Rings organization. Suddenly the setup seems very simple and partly follows the well-known Marvel formula, but Shang-Chi nevertheless fills in some things in an unexpected way. What Destin Daniel Cretton does here is definitely worth repeating.
paradoxically, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings does not work with a laser focus on one character, as was the case with Thor , for example . No, the film frames and focuses more than ever on the motives of the antagonist, making Shang-Chi feel like the main character, but never really the focus of the story until the very end. He undergoes the trajectory that the other characters define for him, which allows him to become the hero he should be.
What is striking is that you can make a firm distinction between two parts in the film, with the beginning, in our opinion, being filled in the strongest and most creatively. The first part leads us on a discovery through the universe around Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings organization, while the second act takes more of the fantastic Marvel tour, but unfortunately becomes slightly predictable.
The Ten Rings
Sonic The Hedgehog jokes aside, you can only admire the choice of interpretation of the Ten Rings and the person behind it. I’m not exaggerating when I say that in my opinion this is one of the best written antagonists in the MCU. After all, a large part of the film is not so much about Shang-Chi, but the history of this character and how Shang-Chi comes into contact with it. Throughout the film you experience so much emotion and conflict through that character that you can’t help but feel a kind of sympathy and almost pity for Xu Wenwu . Tony Chia-Wai Leung portrays the role extremely perfectly. The emotional spectrum he can handle is really intense and dominating.
A large part of the film is now not so much about Shang-Chi, but the history of this character and how Shang-Chi comes into contact with it.
Although the Ten Rings are depicted differently here than in the comics, it is a formula that is put down very accurately. The Ten Rings are a powerful weapon, and it comes out more strongly here than if they portray it as a bunch of jewelry on each finger. I don’t think we’ve ever been this close to a Dragonball Z -esque approach in the MCU as we are now.
The best of multiple worlds
And don’t let Tony Chia-Wei Leung be the only one stealing the spotlight. The interaction between (Katy) Awkwafina and (Shaun/Shang-Chi) Simu Liu is truly a joy to watch. You really don’t see anything forced and just two friends having fun throughout the film. And of course Michelle Yeoh’s talent is indispensable in a martial arts film. As always the calm consistency that combines premium acting with flowing stunt work. There are also some great cameo guest roles, which I can’t say more about without spoiling. But in our opinion, they more than make up for some of the dark spots from previous films in this way.
In addition, only tribute to the talent of Simu Liu, who seems to combine the best of both worlds in the approach of the stunt work. And that, of course, is not only his credit, but also that of the extremely talented battle coordinators. Let there be absolutely no doubt, this is a martial arts movie through and through. The film is peppered with great action scenes and over-the-top kung fu in hyperdrive. It’s like mixing a Bruce Lee movie with the quintessential Jackie Chan style of “accidental” fighting and then sprinkled with a dash of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon , anime and Marvel magic. Fast, hyper, spectacular. This film is unique in its approach to kung fu and let that be the refreshing thing. With that, Shang-Chi
definitely an MCU ode to the kung fu movies of yesteryear, but also definitely a Marvel movie. We can only call this a successful combination. Our editors are already looking forward to Shang-Chi’s next appearances in the MCU.