Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton
SYNOPSIS: Shang-Chi must confront the past he thought he left behind when he is drawn into the web of the mysterious Ten Rings organization.
Marvel Studios returns to the big screen with it’s first original film since Avengers Endgame. Black Widow was a great way to both start off phase four and give a proper ending to the character, but Shang-Chi is the first film connected to a brand new character that we’ve never seen on the big screen. Even with that being the case, my excitement level for this one wasn’t that high. It’s hard to compete with the hype of Eternals, Spider-Man No Way Home, Thor Love and Thunder and Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. Nonetheless, the trailers looked cool and I was interested to see what the new hero in the MCU could offer.
This film is awesome and not just in terms of the action or comedy like many MCU films. It is a surprisingly really well done film as a whole. The performances shine, especially Simu Liu. His story to get here is fantastic and he is more than deserving of the role. He gives a very layered, emotional and real performance that really attached me to the character. Awkwafina, although very skeptical going in, brought a character that I never knew I needed and Tony Leung Chiu-wai was a really good villain with just as many layers as the main character.
The writing is air tight. The MCU has a very bad track record of reusing many tropes and character arcs in their origin stories to the point of making a “cookie cutter” origin story (Captain Marvel). I am happy to report that that doesn’t happen here. This is a fresh rejuvenation to the comic book origin in all of the best ways. Like I mentioned in the performances, there are a lot of layers and emotion brought to the story on top of the thematic elements that are sprinkled throughout. It didn’t feel cheap or generic or like anything we had seen before. Did it follow some basic tropes, yes, but it didn’t push too hard and stayed true to itself. The other thing that was done well was the mythology, world-building as well as the culture and traditions throughout. I loved the route they took and I left feeling truly enlightened and wanting more of this part of the MCU.
The action is the last standout of Shang-Chi. Most of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has dealt with a specific kind of action revolving around the supernatural or super abilities of our characters. And while the Ten Rings do have mystical and magic power, that isn’t at the forefront of all of the action. This film depends on the straight up and real martial arts. With that comes a new way of choreographing and shooting the action for the MCU, and it’s done to perfection. You feel every punch, you see every move and you feel like you are truly a part of the action. It was a refreshing take at action in this universe. Each sequence is different and the environments involved lend themselves to different types of action. This is one of my favorite parts of the film.
The technical aspects of the film are just as good and deserve just as much praise. The direction from Destin Daniel Cretton is flawless, I literally have no problems with it. The cinematography, not just with the action, but in general is stunning as well. The one major technical thing that I want to highlight is the score. It is absolute perfection. I could not have asked for a better piece of music to act as a character in the film. Blending both traditional music with modern music. This again was the definition of perfection and a part of the film that needs to be recognized and respected.
FINAL: Shang-Chi is a refreshing take at the superhero origin with fantastic performances, airtight writing and kick ass action. Simu Liu is a revelation and should be cherished for as long as he is a part of the MCU. The emotion and thematic depth was surprising but very pleasant. The action is entirely new to the MCU and you really felt every punch and kick that was thrown. I really really enjoyed my time with this film and truly cannot wait to see what the future holds for the newest hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
15 for Entertainment 15
15 for Performances 15
15 for Writing 14
10 for Direction 10
10 for Emotions 9
10 for Cinematography 9
5 for Sound 4
5 for Score 5
5 for Pacing 4
5 for Rewatchability 5
5 pts Automatic 5
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: 95/100
Jack Lautaret is a film critic and the founder of the FinaticFilms YouTube Channel. He is a member of the Online Film and Television Association. Twitter: @jacklautaret