Shang-Chi: The Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) Review 

So I saw Shang-Chi The Legend of the Ten Rings on Saturday night (the 4th of September) and I had a great time. Shang-Chi stars Simu Liu as the titular character, Awkwafina as Katy, Tony Leung as Wenwu, and Meng’er Zhang as Xialing. The film is about Shang-Chi coming to terms with himself and his past as he battles to prevent his father from unleashing something terrible. I want to try to avoid spoilers for the film as there’s a lot that happens in it that I think you should go in blind for, since the trailers I’ve seen have done a good job at not revealing too much. It’s also going to be hard to not spoil things when there are things I want to talk about as I have some issues with them. 

The story and plot of the film is pretty good. The films works as a bit of a coming of age or typical heroes journey film, as it’s about Shang-Chi learning to accept his past and about finding himself. It’s about overcoming his feelings for his family and his trauma at the hands of his family to help stop his father’s goals in the film. I like how this film is about moving past grief and trauma, it’s what leads the main characters, and it’s also about how Wenwu’s grief has eaten him to the point where he does what he does in the film. I think it’s funny how this is another film in the MCU that deals with parental issues, especially between a father and son. The film handles these ideas pretty well, with how their relationship develops throughout the film.

Simu Liu as Shang-Chi is pretty good. He carries the role pretty well, and is pretty believable in all aspects of the character. He does well in the kind of immature phase of the character, as well as the serious badass parts of the character. He really worked hard for this film and it really shows. Shang-Chi has a pretty typical development throughout the film, with him maturing and learning to accept himself and his past to become a better person for it. It works for the film though as it gives a good base to give us a great relationship with his father. He’s pretty badass in this movie as well, I like how his abilities come from accepting himself and using both sides of his family for his fighting style in the end. 

Awkwafina as Katy is also pretty good. She serves as the comic relief/audience stand-in to the world/friend/romantic interest of the film. She serves her role well, and is pretty funny throughout the film. She also gets into the action in the film which also really works, and gets badass with being involved in the final battle. Her relationship/friendship with Shang is pretty good, they have good chemistry together and do feel like close friends. She does serve as the audience stand-in as well as she learns about the world of the film at a majority of the same times that we do. I also like how they don’t go fully into making Shang and Katy a couple in the film, they place the beginnings and show that it could happen in the future though. 

The last character I will out focus on is the villain, Tony Leung as Wenwu. He is amazing in this film and is probably one of the best villains in the MCU. He is badass, intimidating, but also shows his caring and loving side throughout. He was so good and had probably one of the better villain motivations in the MCU, in that it is incredibly relatable and understandable. He is a man blinded by grief and this leads to him being manipulated throughout the film by the other big bad of the film. Leung’s performance is amazing throughout the film, he really bring his A-game and is charismatic and really badass throughout. We learn just enough about his backstory and history to give us enough while keeping enough a mystery to maybe bring him back in flashbacks some day, I mean the man has been around for a long time and has done a lot through his life that would be cool to see at some point in the future. The one thing I don’t like is how the movie ends for the character, like it’s presented as a redemption for at least some of what he did to Shang, but doesn’t really do much else. It really only serves as a means to an end and to me could have been done a bit better. 

Everyone else throughout the film is great. Xialing is a great character, is badass, and sets her up as a force for the future of the film. Razorfist and Death Dealer are cool throughout the film, but Death Dealer is just there to job out to the final baddie. It was cool seeing Wong cameo throughout the film and helped show more of his character, and I do hope he is kinda like the new coulson of the MCU especially with the focus on magic and multiverses going forward. I wasn’t really expecting it but a certain actor makes a return in this film and his role is pretty good, he serves as comedic relief as well and works as well. Morris was cool and serves as the cute CGI character that will likely become a popular plush in the future. Li was pretty great throughout the film, she was badass and we can see why a guy like Wenwu would fall in love with her, and how she brought out the best in him. It was cool to see Michelle Yeoh as she was great and badass as always. It was also really cool to see Wah Yuen in the film. 

The film looked amazing and is really colourful. Some beautiful locations and the village looked great. It was cool to see these mythical creatures visualized this way. The FX were all amazing, from the locations to the weapons of the different groups and especially the ten rings themselves. They were so cool and while they don’t have a lot of the same abilities that they do in the comics, I feel like these are a good adaptation of them and are still badass in their own right. I do like how they’re more arm bracers/bads over actual finger rings. It provides for interesting action and fits with the abilities they have in the film. It keeps the martial arts inspiration with being based on the Iron Rings, which can be seen in Kung Fu Hustle (also well worth the watch). The dragon scale weapons were also pretty cool as well. I’d say the one place where the FX suffered was with the big first bus battle, as there are moments where you can see they rant out of time or the budget wasn’t allocated there. The costumes were all really good, some standouts for me are Death Dealer who looks great, and Shang-Chi’s costume which is a great adaptation of his modern comic design. 

The action was all pretty good as well, makes good use of modern kung-fu movie style choreography, but also uses some classic wire-fu throughout, between the fighting style of the village and Wenwu’s use of the rings. It’s some of the best action in the MCU. One thing I wasn’t expecting was during the last we get the big CG “end of the world if you fail” battle against the “true” villain of the film. I mean it’s cool, but it kind of drags the film down a bit, but it does serve it’s purpose with showing how powerful Shang now is, and that Katy has learned her lesson taught to her by the people from the  village. I mean it’s cool to see a kaiju battle in the MCU but I don’t know if the film really needed it. It’s an ok adaptation of the character it’s supposed to be, but also is very different. I mean we probably weren’t going to see them in any capacity anyways so might as well have used them here. 

Over-all i had a great time with this movie. It’s really good and another exploration into the mystical side of the MCU and sets up some interesting stuff for the future of the MCU. It’s worth the watch in the theatres. I give it two-thumbs up !

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