‘Shang-Chi’: Legend of the Ten Rings

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is the newest entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Shang-Chi (Shaun), played by Simu Liu, is drawn back into a dark past he thought he had left behind when he moved to America. Joined by his best friend Katy (Awkwafina), Shang-Chi must return to his homeland to confront his family and finally deal with the mysterious Ten Rings organization.

Pro – Great Action

“Shang-Chi” starts hot and heavy with the action and really never lets up. The fight scenes are some of the best “wire-fu” martial arts fighting of the last decade, and in that regard, “Shang-Chi” is an exciting Kung-Fu movie in its own right. The film has some incredibly fun, and claustrophobic, fight scenes early on. As the film marches on, the stakes and the set pieces increase accordingly. The final scene feels like the full-blown production audiences have come to expect from the MCU, and yet the film finds a way to retain its unique flavor and style. The cast is superbly cast, and they really add to the film. Liu is outstanding as the title character, and is believable as a superhero while still having the acting chops to carry the film and deliver Marvel’s trademark humor. His chemistry is really nice with Awkwafina, and together they give the film a lot of its charm. Tony Chiu-Wai Leun is outstanding as Xu Wenwu, the main villain and also heart of the story. The best part of the film is a secret that is best kept that way, until it is enjoyed on the big screen.

Pro – the same but different

The strength of the MCU, besides the aforementioned outstanding casting decisions, continues to be the ability to produce movies that are clearly Marvel superhero movies with very obvious tie-ins to the lore and yet also infused with the spirit of a different genre. This is what continues to allow MCU movies to not only be watchable, but actually enjoyable 25 films later. Whether it’s the heist film that is “Ant-Man” or the buddy-cop nature of “Thor: The Dark World,” these movies feel distinct, and that allows them to be enjoyable on their own. “Shang-Chi” continues this genius by delving into the Kung-fu genre. Replete with shadowy assassinations, training montages, family conflict, and, of course, martial arts fighting, “Shang-Chi” manages to feel like part of the MCU and yet its own, distinct film. It’s really a Marvel.

Neutral – No Converts

“Shang-Chi” is a great movie that people who love the MCU or Kung-Fu are likely to enjoy immensely. That said, like most of the MCU films, there is not much in this film for those that don’t like those things. This is not a film that is going to delight anyone who hasn’t found something to love in the previous 24 films. That’s not a bad thing, but worth pointing out, given how much praise is being heaped upon the film. It will delight the large and devoted fanbase of these films, but it’s unlikely to add to it.

“Shang-Chi” was a delightful watch. It’s exciting, it’s action-packed, and it’s a lot of fun. It’s also right in this reviewer’s wheelhouse. For anyone who is a fan of the MCU or Kung-Fu, this feels like a cannot miss. Take the bus over the Fridley Palms Theatre today and check this one out.