The latest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has arrived with “Shang Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings”.
The film introduces audiences to Shang Chi (Simu Liu); an easygoing San Francisco resident who spends his time parking cars and hanging out with his friend Katy (Awkwafina) and her family.
Life is steady if unspectacular until he is accosted on a city bus by a group looking to take a pendant his mother gave him. When Shang Chi shocks Katy and the occupants of the bus with his martial arts abilities; he attempts to find his sister Xialing (Meng’er Zhang); who runs an underground fight club. While Xialing is estranged from her brother; their father Wenwu (Tony Chiu-Wai Leung) has conspired to bring them and their pendants before him.
Their father uses the power of sacred devices known as the Ten Rings to rule for over a thousand years and destroys all who would oppose him thanks to their power and the army he has gathered over the centuries.
Wenwu wants to revive their long-dead mother as he is convinced that she is calling to him and he wants to be with her as he was able to be a better man and forsake the power and abilities the rings offered him.
When it is learned that Wenwu plans to go to a mythical realm that their mother came from and free her or burn the place to the ground; Shang Chi must make some hard choices between family and doing what he believes is right.
What follows is an action-filled thriller with plenty of mysticism and humor. The film has a very engaging visual style that combines Asian and Western cinematic styles which results in some very engaging visuals as well as action sequences.
What really sets the film apart from many Super Hero films is that the characters have a solid base to them as they have a complexity to them in regards to their past and their motivations. Their relationships with one another are key to the film as family, honor, and justice are key elements to the film but they are not given lip service but are developed well along with their characters.
While the final act may be a bit FX heavy for some; I found it in keeping with the story and the characters and the great Sir Ben Kingsley provides some very welcome comic relief in his return as Trevor.
Awkwafina is also great as she provides some very laugh-out-loud moments but is not afraid to mix it up when the situation calls for him. Simu Liu was very enjoyable in the lead role as he performed the physical aspects of his character well but added a restrained sensitivity to his character as he is a complicated individual who is conflicted by choices he made in his youth and the ramifications of them now as an adult.
There are bonus scenes that set up future adventures well including one that will no doubt have Marvel fans heatedly debating when the film premieres.
Once again Marvel has shown why they have had such a sustained success with their films as they have done a great job again of introducing a new character to the Cinematic Universe but also connecting him to their cinematic past and future.
4 stars out of 5
About the Author
gareth Syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. His work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site and publication “Skewed and Reviewed”. He has three books of film, game reviews and interviews published and is a well-received and in demand speaker on the convention circuit. Gareth has appeared in movies and is a regular guest on a top-rated Seattle morning show. He has also appeared briefly in films such as “Prefountaine”, “Postal”. “Far Cry”. and others. Gareth is also an in-demand speaker at several conventions and has conducted popular panels for over two decades.