Luke Hansen’s review published on Letterboxd:
I’ve had a lot of fun with the MCU for a while now. While it’s films don’t always offer something mind boggling, they are generally fun and well made. That being said, after the disappointing Black Widow, other weak phase 4 projects, and the bland marketing for this film, I wasn’t expecting much from Shang Chi. I almost put off seeing this until I heard all the positive reactions. Like Free Guy, I’m very glad to have been positively surprised by this film because Shang Chi is fantastic and worthy of the praise.
While it’s expectedly drenched in some of the restrictions and handicaps that come with being such a mainstream movie, it offers a unique and stylized experience. From the energetic and mesmerizing choreography, to the vivid visuals, to the familiar but well done story there’s a lot to get invested in here. There’s a vision to establish Shang Chi as a new and likable hero. Something the film ultimately does very well and ingrained him in my memory of beloved heroes. Simu Lui is super charming in the role and fits the part well.
A big strength the movie had was how well rounded ALL of its characters were. No one feels like the directionless side character. However simple they might be, everyone has motivations and goals that make them feel relevant. The Mandarin (the real one this time) was great. His arc was a nice one that allowed him to have the actions of the traditional power hungry villain but without technically being the “power hungry villain”.
Overall, it can be action heavy and familiar, but Shang Chi is great action to the every expanding MCU.