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

Shang-Chi comic


Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings topped  the record for Labour Day openings with $90 million and has posted the second-biggest three-day debut of the pandemic year so far, behind fellow Marvel Studios movie Black Widow. Which is to say Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a good movie. Well, no, Shang-Chi starts off as a good movie and then tappers off near the end to an okay movie.

Going into Shang-Chi I had no prior knowledge of the character, like in the comic books Shang-Chi has no discernible superpower, he wasn’t bitten by a radioactive spider, nor was he infused by gamma radiation, nor was he a super soldier or spy. I found out all these things after the movie.

The movies blurb describes the plot as “martial-arts master Shang-Chi confronts the past he thought he left behind when he’s drawn into the web of the mysterious Ten Rings organization” and that is the best way to describe the movie without spoiling it too much.

What we do find out from the movies is Shang-Chi is a certified bad ass. There is a fight scene on a bus that would have been reminiscent of Jackie Chan, Jet-Li that was just beautiful to watch and really made the first half of the movie. The latter half of the movie does lean into being more CGI heavy when the more mystical and high-tech elements are brought to the fore, moving Shang-Chi away from a good movie to an okay movie.

The villain Xu Wenwu is a believable tragic villain played by Tony Leung Chiu-wai. A good villain is something that Marvel improved on as of late is their believability of the villains. Marvel have moved away from the cartoonish villains that plagued some of their earlier movies, such as the Malekith – Thor: The Dark World or Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron.  It wasn’t until Marvel hit the right note with fans when they cast Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger in Blackpanter was there a noticeable improvement on the believability in their villian choices. 

The biggest problem for me is this tonal difference from the first half and the second half of the movie, and that tonality that takes away from the full potential of what the movie could have been. Sometimes a movie is better with less. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is where the eastern martial arts movie meets western
formulaic superhero movie, and it works.

Let me know what you think of the movie.

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