Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings ★★★½

Life Update : I officially have a new writing Catholic U's student newspaper The Tower. My inaugural review is of "Shang-Chi" and I just finished the rough draft of my "Malignant" review. I will be writing about one review a week for the publication.

Father and mother, sister and brother, nature and invention, East and West. Marvel’s latest film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the 25th installment in the ongoing Marvel Cinematic Universe, is a film of duality. Shaun (Simu Liu) is a valet driver at a high-end hotel in a will-they-won’t-they friendship with co-worker Katy (Awkwafina). A mundane life that is soon revealed to be extraordinary. Shaun holds a secret: his father Wenwu (Tony Leung) wields a mystical weapon called the Ten Rings in a historic campaign of crime and conquest. Soon enough, Shaun finds himself pulled back into the world he so desperately wanted to leave.

Director and co-writer Destin Daniel Cretton, best known for the heart-wrenching film Just Mercy (2019), and his two co-writers, Dave Callaham and Andrew Lanham, embrace the film’s contradictions, contrasts, and clashes. The highlights of the whole endeavor are the action set pieces scattered through the runtime. Some scenes may remind the audience of the gravity-defying action of films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), but Shang-Chi never settles on one particular style, whether Western or Eastern. One scene, a fraught fistfight on a moving bus, establishes a clear sense of unreality in its effects and physics while also featuring hard-hitting, impact-focused cinematography. One can never say that a particular action sequence is a wuxia (martial arts) tribute, a comedy action scene in the vein of Jackie Chan, or even a traditional Bourne-cribbed Marvel set piece. It is simultaneously all of it yet something wholly itself.


67/100. Watched at Regal Gallery Place with CUA friends (7:30pm).

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