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Review: “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”

Jilian Whitehead

Posted on September 16, 2021 20:06

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Marvel’s first movie with a Chinese protagonist has hit the screens. With fun martial arts and stunning visuals, it reminds us why superheroes are so popular in the first place.

As a long-time Marvel fan and an East Asian, I was excited to see the latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While I’m not a film critic by any means, here are my general thoughts on “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.”

The movie immediately begins with a different feel from other Marvel ones. While there is the typical cheesy humor and more of an emphasis on action than deep storytelling, filmgoers may also be surprised by what it brings to the table.

The plot itself is easy to follow and fairly typical for an origin story. It’s a bit heavy on the flashbacks, and there are some standard movie conveniences (like someone learning a new weapon very quickly). While this movie is supposedly about the ten rings, very little is actually known about them, something that a credits scene notes. However, the rings themselves are undeniably a neat weapon.

The characters are likable but a little underdeveloped. As this is the first Shang-Chi movie we’re getting, this isn’t a deal-breaker. While we get to scratch the surface of Shang-Chi’s personality, some of the choices he makes don’t entirely make sense. The second main character, Katy, is entertaining as Shang-Chi’s best friend. She isn’t as connected to her heritage, but she shares the same hesitance toward her future goals that Shang-Chi does. Surprisingly, the movie contains no romance between the two. While something may happen in the future, I enjoyed just having a story with a good friendship.

The movie also features one of the better Marvel villains: Shang-Chi’s father, Wenwu AKA the Mandarin. Once a thousand-year-old man set on conquering the world, Wenwu softens when he falls in love and starts a family. His goal throughout the movie is to resurrect his dead wife no matter the consequences, something that most people can understand.

The movie’s setting moves from San Francisco to Macao to the mythological village of Ta Lo. Creatures like the nine-tailed fox, phoenix-like birds, and guardian lions populate the world. Even Morris, a faceless fuzzy thing with wings, is based on a Chinese creature called a Dijiang. And, of course, there’s the dragon who’s a sight to behold.

One of the biggest draws of superhero movies, the fight scenes don’t disappoint and are fluid and beautiful to watch. While the first half is heavy on martial arts, the second half introduces more weaponry and fantastical battles. Visually, the movie hits all the right notes. On the auditory side, the soundtrack is good, and, interestingly, there are quite a few subtitles. As someone who watches anime frequently, these didn’t bother me, and I actually enjoyed hearing Mandarin as I thought it added to the setting.

Ultimately, while “Shang-Chi” is by no means perfect, for those who enjoy Marvel movies, it’s a fun watch, and I’m excited to see how it will fit into the greater MCU.

Jilian Whitehead

Posted on September 16, 2021 20:06

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Source: TechRadar
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Shang-Chi is getting released on Disney Plus – but don't expect the latest MCU movie to arrive any time soon.

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