Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

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

An inspired spin on the origin story formula in that the hero already knows exactly who he is, his secrets left to be discovered by the supporting players and his backstory woven in intermittently, BATMAN BEGINS-style. For at least its first half, this film is such a breath of fresh air, largely unencumbered by the needs of the MCU, delivering heart, humor, and a bevy of great fights and car chases on an agreeably small scale. Naturally, the world gets bigger, and eventually we’re in Marvel’s standard territory of parent-child communication breakdown set against the backdrop of a CGI orgy, but the road to getting there is so fun and so expertly cast that it mostly sticks the landing anyway. Tony Leung and Michelle Yeoh are eternal badasses, and Simu Liu shows great promise as a leading man, yet it’s Awkwafina who absolutely walks away with the entire movie, cracking jokes, stealing cars, and charming the hell out of this viewer.

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