Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings, the new addition to the Marvel cinematic universe, is typical for sure, but at the same time, it is highly entertaining. It is that classic origin story that prefers to establish the life of its central protagonist comprehensively. Hence, even the main conflict is also happening in a very personal space. With stylishly choreographed stunts aided by the witty humor one finds in MCU movies, Shang-Chi succeeds in creating that entertaining superhero movie experience.
Shaun, who lives in San Francisco and works as a valet, is our main character. He lives alone, and Katy, a fellow valet, is his best friend. One day a group of men tries to attack Shaun, leading to the whole back story of who Shaun really was. What is his past and who are those who wanted to attack him is what we discover in Shang-Chi.
As I said, it’s your usual origin story where you are given an idea about the character’s past. Living with a fake identity, getting to know about his responsibility, taking up the mission, wearing the suit, and killing the villain; all the ingredients we expect in a superhero film is there in Shang-Chi. But where it succeeds is in the treatment. The writing of the movie knows how to include humor without troubling the rhythm of the film. Even set pieces are designed and placed in a way it helps the story to move forward. Thus, despite being a bit on the template side, the story here keeps us curious.
Destin Daniel Cretton has given a greater emphasis on the visualization of the movie. The martial arts, set pieces, the beauty of Ta Lo, etc., are vital to the film, and Cretton makes sure that the experience of seeing it will have a wow effect on people. The inclusion of Mandarin in the plot was hilarious and was a bit nostalgic too. Rather than making him a mere tool to show that the story is set in the same universe, they offered him a proper lengthy role. Things like this help Shang-Chi in finding some uniqueness. The visual effects of the movie are stunning.
Simu Liu, with his perfect physique, fits into the character smoothly. It isn’t really an acting challenge, and one would feel that the effort is more in making the action look believable, and he was good at that. Awkwafina as Katy is absolutely hilarious. The character is practically the go-to tool of the script to keep things light and exciting, and Awkwafina did that job perfectly. Meng’er Zhang as Shang-Chi’s sister Xialing also gets a martial-arts-heavy role. And looking at the way the film ends, she has a greater purpose in the MCU. Tony Leung as Wenwu has that grace and intensity of a potent antagonist. Special mention to Ben Kingsley, who reprised his role as Trevor, aka The Mandarin from Iron Man 3, was extremely fun to watch.
The Asian representation will give Marvel a significant boost and acceptance for sure, and Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings having this cultural connection will make it a bit more unique in that sense. Shang-Chi is not a film that will become a phenomenon like the Black Panther because it isn’t trying that hard to be political with its content. The approach here is to make it more entertaining and break certain stereotypical gaze we see in Hollywood films about people of Asian origin.
With stylishly choreographed stunts aided by the witty humor one finds in MCU movies, Shang-Chi succeeds in creating that entertaining superhero movie experience.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended