"Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" stars Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Meng'er Zhang, Fala Chen, Florian Munteanu, Benedict Wong, Michelle Yeoh, Ben Kingsley, and Tony Leung. Released on September 3, 2021, the film is about a skilled martial artist who battles the leader of a terrorist organization.
The film is directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, who also directed "I Am Not a Hipster", "Short Term 12", "The Glass Castle", and "Just Mercy". It is based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name created by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin. It is also the 25th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There comes a time where we say goodbye to our favorite heroes and make way for a new generation. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this is that time. Summer vacation has come to a close, but the blockbusters keep on coming as the latest chapter in the MCU continues to provide cultural representation in superhero form. The franchise delivered an excellent depiction of the African-American community in the form of "Black Panther". Now, it's introducing its audiences to a Marvel superhero from the Asian community. This is another superhero film that got us asking, "Who the heck is this character?" Well, from my resources, Shang-Chi is a Marvel hero whose only "superpower" is being extremely good at martial arts. It looks like Jackie Chan has got some competition. I'm one of the many people who are unfamiliar with this character. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen Shang-Chi a lot in the other Marvel shows and games I've experienced. So it appears that I might be in for an exciting treat. Disney and Marvel have a pretty good track record for introducing lesser-known characters like Captain Marvel and Doctor Strange and making them as popular as Iron Man and Captain America. This was one of the reasons for my excitement towards it, along with its cast and concept. Are they able to keep it going with Shang-Chi? Let's find out.
The story centers on Shang-Chi (Liu), a skilled martial artist who was trained under the ruthless organization known as the Ten Rings lead by his father Wenwu (Leung). Shang-Chi left the Ten Rings to start a new life in San Francisco, much to the dismay of Wenwu. Of course, it wasn't as easy as it sounds as Shang-Chi is hunted down by the organization's members. With the help of his close friend Katy (Awkwafina) and his estranged sister Xialing (Zhang), Shang-Chi will have to face the past he left behind to save both of his worlds from destruction. This is another film that depicts the main character's origin story, a formula that has continued to work well throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With a character like Shang-Chi, it creates a challenge for the MCU team to craft a film that's worthy enough to put him in the spotlight with the Avengers and, more importantly, honor the Asian culture and history. Unsurprisingly, they rose to the challenge and conquered it with their own powerful ten rings. "Shang-Chi" is an exciting and thoughtful superhero adventure that serves as a stellar throwback to the martial arts films that inspired it. While it does have some familiar elements from the past Marvel films, most notably the grand CGI-filled finale, the film proved that the franchise's usual formula can still be helpful with the proper execution. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, am I right? The film offered a lot more on its plate than just Shang-Chi's self-identity quest, including the relationship between him and Wenwu and the Ten Rings organization. The Ten Rings has been around since the first Iron Man film back in 2008, so to see who they truly are front and center was pretty interesting to me. Those elements alone were one of the main reasons this film should stand alongside the other great superhero films like "Black Panther" regarding the direction. Destin Daniel Cretton has become another filmmaker who makes a successful leap from making low-budget dramas to directing a big-budget superhero blockbuster. With the right amount of energy and heart in the film's action, settings, and characters, Cretton has crafted a stunning and absorbing piece of cultural representation that treats the characters and lore with respect instead of making them stereotypical. Simu Liu, who's mostly known for his role in Kim's Convenience, took center stage as the title character after appearing in a couple of projects as a supporting actor. If Kim's Convenience wasn't enough to get your eyes set on Liu, then I think this movie will. Simu Liu offered just enough charm and heart in his performance to portray a likable and badass character who's struggling with finding his own identity. Awkwafina impressed me yet again with her highly entertaining performance as Katy. Her character can be annoying at times for some people, but not enough to make them want to throw her off a cliff. She served as a hilarious and supportive companion to Shang-Chi thanks to her humor and infectious chemistry with Liu. Tony Leung was also great as Wenwu, another Marvel villain who's actually more interesting and layered than he seems. "Shang-Chi" is another fine example of a superhero film where the villain is as compelling as the hero. Meng'er Zhang and Michelle Yeoh also served as solid additions to the cast as Xialing and Ying Nan, respectively. The action sequences were once again top-notch with the film's slick choreography and suitable cinematography. It certainly resembled a martial arts film, but with more CGI and fantasy elements. Each of them was more impressive and eye-opening than the last, which is pretty typical for an MCU film. As for the visuals, they looked pretty darn good themselves. Some of the visual effects looked rough at times, but they've done wonders in bringing this unique part of the cinematic universe to life regarding its settings and creature designs.
Overall, "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" is another delightful Marvel film that gives the brand's lesser-known superhero their due. It also proves that the MCU team knows what they were doing when it comes to introducing more heroes into the roster. With its superb cast, Cretton's direction, action sequences, cultural representation, and stunning visuals, the film serves as both a grand introduction to the character and an incredible tease as to what's to come for him in the future. Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and martial arts films will definitely not want to miss out on this one.