Movie Review: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)

You can’t outrun who you really are.

-Wenwu-

There are not major spoilers in this review!

I Heard There Are Rings Involved

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a movie based off the Marvel comic superhero (created by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin). The movie was directed by Destin Daniel Cretton and written by Dave Callaham, Destin Daniel Cretton, and Andrew Lanham. It stars Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, Florian Munteanu, Benedict Wong, Michelle Yeoh, Ben Kingsley, and Tony Leung. It is rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, action, and language. This action, adventure, fantasy movie has a running time two hours and 12 minutes. This movie is about Xu Shang-Chi, a man trying to rid himself of his past, but all the while is being pulled back into his family’s legacy, good and bad.

A Perfect Combination of Realism and Fantasy

If you know anything about martial arts, it’s probably best to pick a cast that not only looks of Asian descent but is of Asian descent when dealing with characters rooted in Asia. This movie did not make the same mistake as a movie I watched about the Yakuza where they made a non-Japanese character the leader of the Yakuza to replace the old leader. It completely wrecked the whole movie. Luckily, the character of Shang-Chi is portrayed with identifiable and relatable human characteristics. He didn’t feel like a caricature in the movie. Because he is a superhero, Shang-Chi also has superhuman powers. The story begins with Shang-Chi’s father, Xu Wenwu, who comes into possession of ten rings that gives him power in the form of immortality. When his father becomes obsessed at finding the secret village called Ta Lo, Shang-Chi relocates to San Francisco to live a normal life as a valet. He now goes by the name of Shaun and with his best friend, Katy, she realizes his true strength after riding a bus together. With this information, it forces Shang-Chi to confront his past including his father’s ambitions and his mother’s intentions. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has a little bit of everything: flying dragons, eyeless hunduns, flying arrows, killer trees, comic relief, dragon scale weapons, great fighting sequences, humor, soul consuming ugly creatures, and more.

Watch the Trailer

My Final Take on Shang-Chi

Out of all the Marvel movies I’ve seen, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, is in the top five because of it didn’t extend beyond this close-knit family. While I liked the Avengers movies, I prefer movies that put their focus in a few locations and concentration on the relationships of family. This is why I really liked Black Panther and Thor. I suppose because Simi Lui as Xu Shang-Chi doesn’t wear a cape or mask, it allowed me to see the battles he was going through when he was not “in character.” Despite it being a superhero movie, there’s definitely commentary about Asian culture relating to expectations. One of the biggest obstacles of portraying Asian characters whether real of imagined is riding the fine line of creativity and realism without venturing into the territory of blatant myths and stereotypes. It’s on par with having any character be human, full of good and bad decision making, and most of all complex. This is what Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings accomplished. The women rivaled the men in physical strength and mental acuity. The only downfall of this movie happened in the credits, but it makes me wonder what will be next.

I rate Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings FOUR FINGERS and ONE THUMB at 100%.

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