An epic new origin story, East-meets-West martial arts mashup with captivating choreography, stunning graphics, and a soundtrack that slaps, Marvel's Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings is the best action movie of the year!
Marvel's Shang-Chi Review
In the words of Katy, “H*ly Sh$t!” legit, Marvel's Shang-Chi is my second favorite origin movie and absolutely ranks in my top 5 Marvel movies of all time, possibly my top 3; I'm still processing. What that means is if you like Marvel films, action movies, martial arts films, or superhero origin stories, you will love Marvel Studios' Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings, in theatres on September 3.
One of the things I won't focus on in this review is representation because I know from our press junket (and watching and reading numerous interviews over the past week or so since our junket) is that the cast and director are over talking about it. It's almost a trope at this point. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has said on more than one occasion, including in our junket, that this movie wasn't made for the purpose of simply making an Asian-focused superhero movie.
What Works with Marvel's Shang-Chi – Marvel's Shang-Chi Review
The Choreography/Fight Scenes in Marvel's Shang-Chi – Marvel's Shang-Chi Review
Even before screening the movie, fight scenes from the trailer conjured feelings of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; watching the full movie only solidified that feeling. Not surprisingly so, given that Michelle Yeoh is possibly best known for her role in the 2000 hit film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and has a background in classical ballet, and Fala Chen also has an extensive background in dance.
At the entrance of Ta Lo, we see a fight scene between Wenwu and Jiang Li that is a graceful, flowing, martial arts/dance sequence.
The East-meets-West fight scenes in Marvel's Shang-Chi are a beautiful choreography of martial arts sequences—fluid and ballet-like in execution—captivating the audience. Paired with a soundtrack that slaps (as my teens would say) and immersed in Southeast Asian mythology and cultural elements, Marvel's Shang-Chi is well-paced and opens the door to something we've never previously seen in the MCU.
At the center of the Legend of the Ten Rings is always one man…the rings give him the power of eternal life.
Simu Liu is a strong lead in Marvel's Shang-Chi – Marvel's Shang-Chi Review
Simu Liu stars as titular character Shang-Chi, who must confront the past he thought he left behind when he is drawn into the web of the mysterious Ten Rings organization. This is Liu's first title role, and if his performance as Shang-Chi shows us anything, it certainly won't be his last. I'm sure giving up the security of a position with Deloitte to take a chance on acting wasn't easy, but it sure seems to have paid off. For those unfamiliar with Liu, he's most known for his role on “Kim's Convenience” as Jung, but he's been in more than a dozen TV shows and movies over the last decade.
While Shang-Chi confronts his past—his father's legacy as an eras-long crime lord who possesses the legendary Ten Rings, which give the possessor godlike strength and immortality—he embarks on a journey that requires him to leave his simpler life as a hotel valet to reconcile his dark, torrid past with his inherent goodness in order to save his mother's village and forge a new path.
Let's Talk About the Badass Women of Marvel's Shang-Chi – Marvel's Shang-Chi Review
Simu Liu was baller, but it would be remiss not to mention how badass his female counterparts were. Awkwafina stars as Shang-Chi’s friend Katy, Michelle Yeoh stars as Ying Nan, Meng’er Zhang as Xialing, and Fala Chen as Jiang Li.
Yeoh and Chen's extensive dance backgrounds definitely help their killer moves in their fight scenes.
Awkwafina rocks her role as Katy and was clearly meant to be a superhero her whole life. Freshly coming off her role as the voice of Sisu in Raya and the Last Dragon, Awkwafina is funny as all get out. If you aren't familiar with her, it's high time you get familiar with her because this won't be the last you see of her in Marvel or elsewhere. This “Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens” star is here to stay.
And even more notable is Meng’er Zhang in her premiere role. Theatre-kid-turned-movie-star who self-submitted an audition tape for a movie that she didn't even realize what it was. And now look at her…Shang-Chi's little boss sister. Keep tabs on this one even more than Awkwafina because this cast of women did not come to play.
The Cinematography in Marvel's Shang-Chi – Marvel's Shang-Chi Review
The cinematography and use of special effects were great in this film. One of the cinematography uses that really stood out was during the fight scene on the scaffolding. As the fighters were fighting and continually falling or jumping from platform to platform, side to side, and level to level, the camera angles were shifting and the camera was using rotating perspective shots and camera angles to create a sense of urgency, dread, and impending doom as the scene intensified.
The Ring fight at the gate of the darkness dweller was also incredibly well done, with both cinematography and graphics/CGI.
The depiction of the rings was very cool, in both color and styling. Starting on Wenwu with 10 and they were blue in color/aura, and Shang-Chi having 0; partway through the fight. each of them had 5 rings. By the end of the fight, Shang-Chi had channeled all 10 rings (which were yellow in color), and with the swoop of his arms, he hurled them into a seemingly powerless pile at Wenwu's feet.
What Doesn't Work with Marvel's Shang-Chi – Marvel's Shang-Chi Review
Marvel's Shang-Chi is brilliantly done. Overall the pacing is great, but at 2 hours and 12 minutes of run time, a few minutes of drawn-out fight scenes could be trimmed and the movie could be tightened up a bit.
Is Marvel's Shang-Chi Safe for Kids? – Marvel's Shang-Chi Review
The short answer? No. It for sure earns its PG-13 rating.
For sure, I would not be bringing any of my kids under the age of 12 or 13, regardless of how well they handle that type of violence.
Swearing in Marvel's Shang-Chi | Is Marvel's Shang-Chi Safe for Kids?
Marvel's Shang-Chi has a lot of swearing. Lots of “sh!t” can be heard throughout. I stopped counting after a handful.
Violence in Marvel's Shang-Chi | Is Marvel's Shang-Chi Safe for Kids?
There's also a lot of violence in Marvel's Shang-Chi. Much of it is martial arts-related fight scenes, but not all.
Death in Marvel's Shang-Chi | Is Marvel's Shang-Chi Safe for Kids?
While most of the death is insinuated and not literal, there is a scene where it is insinuated the mom will die, and then she is shown dead (is this a Disney movie?).
There is also a sequence during a pretty intense fight scene toward the end of the film where there are creatures that suck the life out of people (think Dementors a la Harry Potter), and it's a bit intense.
There are several other intense sequences throughout the movie.
Don't forget to check out All the Shang-Chi Easter Eggs You Might Have Missed
About Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings
Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings stars Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, who must confront the past he thought he left behind when he is drawn into the web of the mysterious Ten Rings organization.
The film also stars Awkwafina as Shang-Chi’s friend Katy, with Michelle Yeoh as Ying Nan, and Tony Leung as Xu Wenwu, Shang-Chi’s father; as well as Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, Florian Munteanu, Benedict Wong, Yuen Wah, Ronny Chieng, Zach Cherry, and Dallas Liu.
Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings is directed by Destin Daniel Cretton and produced by Kevin Feige and Jonathan Schwartz, with Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, and Charles Newirth serving as executive producers. Dave Callaham & Destin Daniel Cretton & Andrew Lanham wrote the screenplay for the film and the screen story is by Dave Callaham & Destin Daniel Cretton. The film opens in theaters on September 3, 2021.
Cast: Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Meng'er Zhang, Tony Leung, Fala Chen, Michelle Yeoh
Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Screenwriters: David Callaham, Destin Daniel Cretton, Andrew Lanham
Runtime: 2 hours 12 minutes