Home Movie Reviews ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ – Review
‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ – Review

‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ – Review

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe is ready to receive an all-new hero in the form of master arts maestro Shang-Chi, and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a bold and imaginative adventure film filled with colour and energy, that is sure to leave audiences hearts pounding with excitement.

When Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) is drawn into the clandestine Ten Rings organization, he is forced to confront the past he thought he left behind.

Stepping into the main arena of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is director Destin Daniel Cretton, and this rising star of a filmmaker brings new energy and rhythm to Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Bringing together hard-hitting action, an intense family drama and some incredibly dazzling visuals, Cretton has a blast with the subject matter of Shang Chi and this passion shows in every frame shot. Balancing both his protagonist’s journey of discovery with an amazing grandeur of Chinese mythology, Cretton pushes the MCU into the realm of the fantasy genre, a move we haven’t seen before, and this really marks this film out as something different and new.

But while the visual scope might be colossal, Cretton keeps his narrative grounded as he takes the concept of the heroes journey and re-defines it for his audience in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. While we’re all used to the idea of a hero discovering his purpose, the focus in Shang Chi is really on a young man learning who he is and striking a new path for himself. This groundedness of the film and its deep themes of self-discovery and family drama keep audiences engaged within the midst of Shang Chi. Cretton also strikes a good balance between drama and action, while also injecting a fun dose of comedy into the film as well, and audiences will love how Shang Chi shapes up.

Taking on the role of Marvel’s newest hero, Shang Chi, the titular master of the martial arts, is rising star Simu Liu and he proves he really does have fists of fury in this role. In his performance, Liu marks out Shang Chi as an everyman character, who is possessed of great skill, but who has to discover his own sense of courage to build his own destiny for himself. As Shang Chi, he’s a likeable and down to earth character, but make no mistake he’s a cunning warrior when thrown up against a wall. And Liu proves himself to be an excellent action hero. You can tell that portraying this hero was a responsibility that Liu did not take lightly, and the MCU has one hell of an impressive new hero in its midst now.

Giving Liu plenty of back-up is the always dependable Awkwafina as the fast-talking and hard-living Katy, Shang Chi’s best friend who is thrown into the deep end with him when his past comes calling. While she’s known for her motormouth comedy, Awkwafina is very much the walking, talking conscience to Liu’s Shang Chi, who pushes him to get out of his comfort zone, while also moving to get him to return to being the man he’s supposed to be. She brings a terrific millennial energy to the role and is a hoot to watch on screen. And Marvel fans will be very pleased with her performance here.

One of the breakout stars of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is Meng’er Zhang who takes on the role of Shang Chi’s estranged sister Xu Xialing. And make no mistake this girl is a badass. Zhang brings a great punk rock flair to her performance as Xialing and she’s also a great foil to her elder brother. Where Liu’s Shang Chi is still trying to come to terms with his father’s grand villainy, Xialing revels in it and has no qualms about being a bad girl. She’s tough as nails and down for a rumble and this absolutely shows on screen and Zhang certainly brings it to her on-screen fight scenes with a martial arts style that is equal parts graceful and furious.

Pulling everything together is legendary Hong Kong cinema icon Tony Leung who makes his Hollywood debut here as Wenwu, the leader of the terrorist organisation known as the Ten Rings. And he’s without a doubt Marvel’s best new villain in a long time. A scene-stealer in every sense of the word, Leung’s Wenwu is a combination of Ghengis Khan, Dr. No and Vito Corleone and Leung brings supreme confidence and charisma to the character that marks him out as a one of a kind villain. Not only is he a lethal killer who is willing to dispose of anyone or anything, but he’s a man possessed with a calculating mind that makes him the ultimate strategist. Through Leung’s performance, you also see his point-of-view and he’s definitely a one of a kind Marvel villain that we’ve long been waiting to see.

Marvel fans looking for equal parts action and adventure will be well pleased with what’s on offer in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Taking his lead from classic Chinese martial arts styles such as kung fu, wushu and tai chi, Cretton and his stunt team bring an epic martial arts flair into Shang Chi and audiences will quickly get caught up in the action. The fight scenes are kinetic and presented with a terrific flair and I had the recollection of watching classic adventures films such as Raiders of the Lost Ark when watching Shang Chi. It’s a fun ride from beginning to end, and audiences looking for their martial arts action fix will be well rewarded.

A new hero has arisen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and he has the heart of a dragon. Bold, action-packed, and bringing long time fans into an entirely new universe, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a sure-fire hit and this is a new hero who is sure to bring plenty of fire as we progress forward into a new chapter of the MCU.

Image: Walt Disney Pictures