Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings; Grade: B-
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings tells a story about a Valet Parking Driver named Shaun (Simu Liu), whom encounters some bad guys on a bus, as soon we and Shaun’s best friend Katy (Awkwafina) will realize Shaun is not just an everyday average joe Valet Parking Driver… This man has some mad combat skills. Shaun is not from the states, in fact his name isn’t even Shaun… His real name is Shang-Chi and he comes from a family in which holds a great amount of sorcery powers. Shang-Chi was trained to be the master of unarmed weaponry-based Kung Fu, as he must go back to his homeland as it believes his sister Xialing (Meng’er Zhang) is calling out help through a post card that was sent to Shang-Chi. Shang-Chi will be forced to confront his past he left behind, as well as deal with a dilemma triggered by his father Xu (Tony Chiu-Wai Leung) in the present as he’s apart of an organization known as the Ten Ring Organization.
From the trailers and from the horrid poster design of Shang-Chi and his father dueling, as one unleashes blue power while the other unleashes red power covered by rings… I had fears this was going to be a nightmare, compared to the likes of Mortal Kombat, that poster gave off that vibe. I’m here to tell you that thank heavens Shi-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is far better than Mortal Kombat, as in fact this new Marvel creation… T’was enjoyable.
The film kicks off with a bad ass action sequence located on a bus, as it’s easily the best action scene in the entire film. The sequence really helped set the tone for this film, as fans are geared up for an entertaining martial arts style film. Destin Daniel Cretton understands the magnitude of his film, as far as what kind of tone is needed for a story like this. Surprising enough Shang-Chi doesn’t take itself completely serious and when it does it goes over the top goofy, which is why I think this film delivers it’s purpose as this was surprisingly thoroughly entertaining and brought some old school martial art vibes we’ve been missing for quite some time. While the action and comedy can appear silly, it does deliver a meaningful story, about confronting the past instead of continually running away from it.
One thing I found pretty surprising as far as a positive… This film did a pretty good job, on simply developing our comedic relief supporting character Katy. Katy doesn’t think too highly of herself and she settles with the basic means of working as a valet parking driver. Within her journey with Shang-Chi, Katy encounters a group that is known to mastering archery. Katy discovers a valuable lesson, in terms of disregarding her doubts and worries that she won’t be good enough to do anything… If you aim for nothing, you will receive nothing. In life you must aim for something no matter if it’s far out of reach, in order to achieve anything out of life you must tend to take as many shots as possible, even if you don’t succeed… You keep aiming until you hit something. It’s simply yet wonderfully said, as Katy delivered this simply meaningful message.
The revival of Trevor Slattery (Ben Kingsley) aka the terrorist from Iron Man 3… Not going to lie I hated the plot twist of that character in Iron Man 3, however his return in this movie was honestly not half bad. I felt Trevor delivered some genuine funny moments, I like his whole persona how he continually wants to be this great actor, his play dead moment in the third act was pretty funny.
Shang-Chi has a fair amount of positives going for it, however I do have problems with this film. When it comes Xu revealing his plan of hoping to bring back his wife… Does it feel odd he would reveal the troubling side of the plan this early?! I would expect Xu trying to regain trust from his son Shang-Chi and his sister, I mean they are the ones whom fled away from him in the first place due to his tyrant like mentality. I mean there is a way you can trick them into believing you’re a changed man now that you have your kids home helping you execute this plan, as you then strike where they didn’t expect it to come or the kid would shout “I KNEW WE COULDN’T TRUST YOU!”... Like why didn’t Xu not have a better mindset going forward with this plan?! I also think it would’ve helped the whole “We needed you to be a father” moment be more effective, as he would stop at this moment stop thinking about himself, as he realized how much chaos he has caused due to his selfishness.
This film introduces an animal, that is furry, has no eyes, and has wings… Why was this creature introduced in the film for?! The creature does not deliver any comedic purposes, no purpose of adoring the creature, and doesn’t help the cause of the problems dealt within the characters and their situations in this story… So why is this creature presented in this film?! A very odd choice, I guess the only thing I can think of was to sell plush toys however who would want to buy a thing like that?!
The finale has a couple red flags for me. The epic finale action sequence was a bit boring to me, as it felt like I’ve seen this exact same thing does about a thousand times in these super hero movies like this one. I also felt Shang-Chi reviving himself underwater, as he thought of some words spoken by his mother in the past was a bit strange and didn’t feel earned. Like how Shang-Chi received his powers at this moment… How exactly did he get the right to earn them?! It felt like in his entire journey before this finale happened, he didn’t learn anything, so why should I believe at this moment he deserves to revive himself at this moment?! At least Katy earned her archery skills by learning a lesson, but with Shang-Chi I felt nothing at that moment. I hated the music in the finale as well, it felt repetitive and it does honestly kill the moment for me.
Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings may not be a top tier superhero film, however I felt this was a positive step up from the pure mediocrity and boredom that was known as Black Widow, so at least it felt like they were heading into the right direction.
Overall, Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings was enjoyably decent. I recommend checking this one out, it’s a fun popcorn film I will say. -Mitch Smietana