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Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Review – the power of friendship and excellent Asians

Here’s my Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Review from Marvel Studios which stars Simu Liu, Tony Leung, Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang, Michelle Yeoh and Fala Chen. The film’s directed by Destin Daniel Cretton.

The film introduces a new Asian hero Shang-Chi to the gradually growing Marvel Cinematic Universe with star Simu Liu and director Destin Daniel Cretton leading the charge. The movie has a distinct Asian-American vibe to it.

I’m glad they weren’t hardcore marketing this as an Asian movie because while its set in Asia, it doesn’t really encompass EVERYTHING from Asia. It’s still a fun romp to the culture.

That being said, the movie is good. It’s very formulaic like other Marvel films but its still enjoyable.

I liked the balance of action, adventure, comedy and drama here with the Asian-American vibe neatly put into it. Again, like I mentioned, not enough of that to talk about but enough to paint a picture. Some elements like Wenwu (Tony Leung) accepting his daughter Xialing (Meng’er Zhang) for a number of reasons kinda feels Asian but its more of a gender thing to be honest.

“Legend of the Ten Rings” also counters the same problems and challenges that they presented in the movie in preachy but positive manner; which I totally like. Xialing never gets the respect that she longs and craves for from her father so she strikes out on her own and finds success. Awkwafina’s Katie is directionless with her life and when she finds herself fighting for Shang-Chi and the things he holds dear, she finds that she has “aim” and uses the same aim to save the day.

As with other Marvel Studios films, there are a lot of moments where you just need to accept it as a plot hole, a bit of plot armor or just requires a lot of suspension of belief. Nothing to serious though that can hamper the movie.

The cast is well put and I have to give credit to Destin Daniel Cretton for developing and overseeing this movie. I loved the cast and they didn’t miss on the cue to add in Doctor Strange supporting character Wong (Benedict Wong) in the picture. In fact Wong is the real wire that connects the world of Shang-Chi and the thriving Marvel Cinematic Universe. Him and Abomination who I still don’t have an idea how he got out of his cell.

If there’s one thing I will praise to the high heavens about Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings its the heavenly casting of the real Mandarin aka Wenwu. Tony Leung brings his intense and brooding performance here as the real power behind the Ten Rings organization. Leung’s performance here in “Shang-Chi” is an appetizer for cinema fans who are not yet familiar with his body of work, particularly when it comes to playing slimy, scheming villains like in “Lust, Caution”.

Take this scene pictured above, you can see the man’s eyes and emotions put forth while his posture reeks of death and retribution. I swear its a blast to watch him even if he’s clearly the bad guy.

I also liked the nonlinear way of telling the history of Shang-Chi’s family with the final moments when they were still a family being fully revealed towards the third act of the film. It also helps bring more emotions to the story which was really starting to wane by the time we reach the climax.

Simu Liu is definitely the star of the show however. He has good range and is definitely believable as Shang-Chi. As an action star and a newcomer in the crazy world of superheroes and villains, Liu is good. However, if and when they decide to do a sequel I would expect more in terms of acting out scenes because we’ve already graduated from being a “newbie”.

Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) in Marvel Studios’ SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS. Photo by Jasin Boland. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

Lastly I want to point out that “Legend of the Ten Rings” is definitely the least Awkwafina movie that I’ve seen. For me, this is the first time that the Crazy Rich Asians actress is actually playing a role and not an extension of her normal self.

Final Thoughts:

I enjoyed Shan-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Its a movie that really wanted to forge a different path from other Marvel Studios films but also at the same time continues to show how the studio likes to play it safe. Nothing bad to say about the cast because they actually did extremely well with their roles. The visual effects are also BEAUTIFUL and so is the music.

RATING: 8/10

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