Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings 2021 Review-


Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings 2021 Review. Marvel Movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings 2021 watch at thearter near you.


Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings 2021
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings 2021

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings 2021 Review

There is an instant thrill in having this supersized superhero Marvel movie,  begin with a voiceover in Mandarin, as Tony Leung steps into frame.  One of the world’s great actors, Leung exerts an effortless majesty.  In Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, he plays Wenwu,  an immortal who possesses 10 rings with enormous occult power.  Wenwu, also known as The Mandarin, heads a criminal organization called The Ten Rings,  which was introduced in the first Iron Man movie.  He is a man tormented by an insatiable lust for power,  which somehow gets submerged under his love for his wife,  but then resurfaces after her death as something even more twisted and vicious. 

Wenwu is one of the more tragic villains in the MCU  and Leung plays him with this melancholic charisma that doesn’t let up, even in the climactic battle  in which several CGI creatures snarl and prey and hold themselves at each other.  He is one of the many pleasures in this film.  The other is Awkwafina, who provides the film’s comedy quotient as Shang-Chi’s best friend Katy.  Katy is the smart, goofy, non-judgmental, open-to- any-adventure buddy that dreams are made of.  Awkwafina gives her a boisterous energy and practicality that offsets the heavy-duty family tragedy.  Shang-Chi and his sister Xialing are Wenwu’s estranged, damaged children.  Shang-Chi is living the slacker life in San Francisco, where he works as a valet along with Katy.  Xialing is running an underground fight club in Macau.  He left home at 14 and she at 16. But now daddy wants them back.  

Early in the film, director Destin Daniel Cretton and fight coordinator Andy Cheng  construct a show stopping action sequence on a bus.  It plays like a mash-up of Speed with a sanitized version of the subway fight scene in The Raid 2.  A man with a machete for an arm literally cuts the bus in half,   while Katy drives and Shang-Chi breaks out the fight moves he learned as a child  when his father was training him to be a world-class assassin.  It’s funny and exhilarating and so packed with adrenalin,  that everything that comes after, seems just a little bit lame.  The film showcases various types of martial arts and some of the action borders on lyrical.  An early sequence in which Wenwu fights hand-to-hand and falls in love with Jiang Li,  the only warrior who's ever defeated him, honestly feels like foreplay.  It reminded me of that sensuous sword fight in Jodhaa Akbar  and the synchronized archery of Baahubali 2: The Conclusion.  There’s also a terrific bit of combat on the scaffolding of a high-rise building.  The film sets up Xialing as a fearsome fighter, just like her brother.  She is also as much a victim.  But ultimately, this remains his story and she, despite her prowess, remains a supporting player.  The sublime Michelle Yeoh plays Xialing’s aunt, who is also a skilled fighter.  This family drama keeps Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings afloat.  Cretton, who co-wrote the script with David Callaham and Andrew Lanham, wisely keeps it at the forefront.

 As with every MCU movie, the fate of the world hangs in the balance,  but the spectacle is grounded in emotional stakes.  This is the ultimate dysfunctional family brimming with rage, abuse, resentment and abandonment.  Wenwu can’t escape his past. Nor can he conquer his grief.  There is no healing for him or his children.  At over two hours, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings stretches its limits.  The film is too long and there are passages that lumber rather than sprint.  Especially the interminable last battle in which the CGI overwhelms everything else.  This is the 25th film in the MCU and it’s getting harder to be dazzled by these endgame scenarios.  Eventually, all the creatures blur into a fog of pixels.  But mostly, Cretton manages to deftly juggle the film’s multiple responsibilities.  Shang-Chi is the MCU’s first Asian lead and like Black Panther,  this film carries the weight of the departure from the all-white pantheon of Marvel superheroes.  The writing doesn’t have the depth or the heft of that film.  And while Simu Liu as Shang-Chi is likeable and effective, especially in the fight scenes,  he can’t command the frame or summon the complex emotions that Leung does with such ease.  Still, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a strong step forward.  Marvel fans looking for Easter eggs won’t be disappointed,  a few beloved MCU characters make an appearance and there are hints of what will come.  I’m most excited by the possibility, that somewhere down the line,  in this Phase 4 of the MCU movies, Katy and Dr. Strange will join hands.  Now, that would be something.  You can watch Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings at a theater near you.  Please don’t forget to wear a mask. 

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