When it comes to Marvel movies, it seems there is a clear formula for crafting the beloved superhero films that they create. In most of these films, the story is well balanced and well-paced and features a strong cast. There are times I wish that Marvel would drift away from this basic formula as it can be repetitive but I guess the old saying is “if it ain't broke don't fix it.”
That is what I felt when I watched "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings." Don’t get me wrong, I loved this film and I will explain in detail later. I mainly used this opening rant as a way to express that Marvel should take more chances with these new heroes they are introducing. Superhero films are like roller coasters. There are times when it is fast, slow, and has its twists. I feel that Shang Chi just went from fast to slow, back to fast, with no twists or turns. With that being said, Let’s dive in!
Shang Chi, the main character and our hero for this film, has been hiding from his dark past for too long. The Ten Rings organization has come for him. Shang must confront his past and find out the secrets that the Ten Rings is hiding.
What I love
I loved the action in this film. I believe this movie has some of the best editing and action sequences that Marvel has ever done. Marvel has the tendency to make the action very choppy in past films, but they stepped up in this one! I felt like I was watching an old Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee film when watching the action sequences. I totally think those old karate movies were inspiration for this one. Can Marvel do this type of editing in every superhero film, please?
Overall I loved the cast performance as well. Simu Liu was fantastic and believable as Shang Chi. When I watch these films I want to see if the lead is really into the character and the story. Simu was clearly into it! Plus he did all of his own stunts, which I love and respect. Awkwafina, the supporting character, was really funny as well. I think her character was written to fit her, and I think it really made the movie better. Bonus shoutout to Marvel for the majority Chinese/Chinese American cast. I am a sucker for representation and Marvel showed how it's done.
I loved that the cast was able to speak their native tongue. That may not seem like a big deal, but it is. Too many times we have seen movies with Asian actors and they do not get the chance to speak their native tongue and have conversations in it. They are usually forced to just speak English. Marvel did a great job incorporating the Chinese language into the film. Representation matters to fans, especially me.
I loved the ending and won’t spoil anything but Shang Chi seems to be joining the ranks of Spiderman and the Avengers.
What I did not love
As I stated earlier, Marvel has its formula for crafting these films. In my opinion, I felt like this was an opportunity to go away from it due to it being about a culture that wasn’t like their other films. I want these films to take chances with the story and character development. Marvel stuck to their plan and it came off a bit boring. Shang Chi is a character that we have never seen on the big screen and yet I feel as though there could have been more to tell. Maybe I'm just asking too much for an origin story film?
There were times when I felt the pacing was a little off with this film too. This film jumped into the story really fast then it got really slow. I think I checked my watch a few times.
Shang-Chi is action-packed and has a lot of good things. I think this film is worth watching again. 4/5 stars.