Marvel Comics has been the undisputed king of superhero movies for decades. The latest release, “Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings” is a refreshing take on the genre that will appeal to both new and old fans of Marvel.
Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings is a 2018 superhero film that takes on the modern day superhero formula. It’s a movie about a young man who discovers he has superpowers and must find his father, who is also a superhero.
It’s revealing when the Marvel Cinematic Universe utilizes its immense might to manage a production line. When one of their films has a truly personal touch to it, franchise qualities like as tremendous spectacle, amazing performances, and detailed family portraits prevail. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is the most recent entry in this category, following in the footsteps of earlier Marvel films like “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Black Panther,” and “Thor: Ragnarok,” which provided a vision and became benchmarks. Destin Daniel Cretton’s picture fits into the Marvel world in its own unique manner, but it also possesses a soulfulness that few other films have.
Simu Liu’s Shang-Chi is an important member of a broken family with a history of infighting. Shang Chi’s power-hungry father, Wenwu, who has lived for 1,000 years and established the Ten Rings, a society that has destroyed kingdoms and controlled events all across the globe, is more important than his broken family relationships.
When Wenwu married Jiang Li, there was joy (Fala Chen). They married and started a family. When Shang-mother Chi’s died, a newly ugly Wenwu attempted to mature his kid by turning him into a killer, leading the little boy to leave Wenwu and his sister Xialing (Meng’er Zhang). “Short Term 12,” a Marvel-style exhibition featuring up-and-coming indie talent, was directed by Cretton. (Brie Larson, Keith Stanfield, Rami Malek, and others) maintains the emotional, human stakes in this screenplay (written by himself, Dave Callaham, and Andrew Lanham), so the superhero setting is an added bonus to the drama. The image depicts a beautiful dance that floats and glides over a sorrowful abyss.
The story develops as Shang-Chi, now an adult in America, takes the bus with his friend Katy (Awkwafina) up and down the hills of San Francisco. Shang-Chi is assaulted by a gang of thugs for a green necklace he wears around his neck, and Shaun’s incredible bravery is shown in a beat that is prefaced like a power-up (much to Katy’s delight). Meanwhile, his fighting prowess contributes to an incredible melee scene of hand-to-hand battle, with the camera panning for lengthy views and freely entering and leaving the moving bus, much like its impromptu hero.
The scene lacks a wow effect (particularly in comparison to how “Nobody” accomplished the same thing earlier this year with proper blood). It compensates, though, by being fast-paced, much longer than you anticipate, and very entertaining. It’s the start of Liu’s action star career, as well as a fantastic debut for a character that will feature in many more dramatic combat sequences in the future.
In the eyes of his father, Wenwu, however, the power of this image shines through. Tony Leung is placed in one of the film’s most inventive movements, allowing him to recapture the same enchantment he’s had in many Hong Kong romances and dramas. Leung is the owner of this film. Leung fights armies, raises a family, and attempts to overcome terrible sorrow with the same quiet love and serenity that made “In the Mood for Love” one of the greatest romances of all time. The ten blue rings that aid him in catapulting about and destroying whatever is in his path add to the potency of his presence.
Wenwu turns into a Darth Vader-like dictator when he hears his wife’s voice from behind a rock. He then goes on a rampage through his mother’s magical home, Ta Lo, in order to reach a cave where everyone (even his son and daughter) knows there is an apocalyptic, soul-sucking dragon. It’s one of the greatest performances from the Marvel Cinematic Universe because the anger and agony it depicts are appropriately Leung-sized.
Cretton has a great grasp of a brother and sister trying to keep their father from destroying everything because he can’t go on, and he can carry this gripping drama from one scene to the next. It’s a more lethal threat than the conventional threat of global domination, and it recalls Shang-Chi and his equally brilliant and angry sister, Jiang Li, from the script’s tragic past. “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” turns into an adventure and a return to a peaceful place from another period with Michelle Yeoh’s beautiful, captivating performance. These sequences, as elegant as the rest of the film, depict Shang-mother Chi’s and father teaching him two opposing fighting styles—or, more properly, life philosophies.
It doesn’t seem that a huge Hollywood tentpole centered on character-based kung fu would have such epic fight sequences by chance, which just adds to the film’s uniqueness. When it comes to putting together a fight set-piece that stuns the audience, Cretton and his team constantly experiment with height, illumination, reflective surfaces, and staging, before putting the choreography front and center as the main attraction; it’s not just about who’s throwing punches and kicks. Several moments in these finely cut pieces knocked me back in my chair, an accidental cinema geek response.
Rather than doing all the work for you, the thrilling embrace of clarity in “Shang-Chi” nudges your creativity. It disseminates amazing special effects that add to the story’s enchantment and the world of its heroes. Water pours down from the walls, floats in the air, and creates an icicle map, a spectacular method of portraying a moment that a hologram would normally depict. Even a beautiful animated adorable sidekick successfully subverts the cliché of plush-looking sidekicks with attractive faces in the film. The most conspicuous use of CGI—the sort that necessitates black clouds, as seen in “Avengers: Endgame’s” enormous battle—is reserved for the last gigantic finale, which is such an over-the-top, ecstatic bumpy ride that you can’t help but clap for.
Outside of “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” the Avengers (at least the current lineup) are there, but Cretton’s film benefits from the development of deeper family and friend ties as two valet workers pushed into another adventure, this one more intense than their karaoke evenings. Liu and Awkwafina have an adorable platonic connection as valet employees. As the film advances to a big crisis, Awkwafina, in particular, emerges as a crucial source of comedic relief for the story and a welcome audience surrogate. In contrast to the darker elements of the narrative, she amplifies the comedy, making different scenes in the film not only exciting but also attractive and amusing.
When it comes to Shang-Chi, the figure lacks identity without the comic relief that his parents lavish on him or the conflicting schools of fighting that swirl inside him. There’s an apparent vacuum in Liu’s performance, given how he combines a stunning, heavy presence with charming innocence, akin to Channing Tatum’s own box office dominating days. The fact that the main character in this script’s sequel requires more attention shows the script’s flawed balancing act; the same could be said for other interesting characters like Xialing, a nasty badass who isn’t given enough screen time.
Without giving anything away, the film tries to rectify Marvel’s past issues with Asian characters. While the sequences are entertaining, they remind me of two things: how difficult it is for these Marvel movies to live in a vacuum, and how much more work remains. Even those who helped make the film have trouble talking about it, like when Disney CEO Bob Chapek said insensitively that it was a “interesting experiment,” a word that implies a secondary status, something unapproved. In many respects, the remark is stupid, particularly after witnessing “Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten” win so many times. Whether in integrated action sequences, accepting platonic bonds in a high-budget picture, or presenting a new exciting hero, it celebrates large and little concepts. He also has to educate his buddy (and the audience) how to properly pronounce his name. With this film, Marvel and Disney aren’t trying anything new. It’s a promising approach for getting things back on track.
SCORE: 8 OUT OF 10
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