Daniel Johnson’s review published on Letterboxd:
This is my favorite thing Marvel has done all year. And I mainly say that because this feels like an actual movie. I love the hype machine, I enjoy endlessly discussing what could be next for the Marvel universe, I get excited just seeing comic book accurate costumes, but just watching a fun movie with some actual substance to it is so much more exciting to me than any of that. And this movie is fun.
Simu Liu gives a really charming performance. I actually buy this character’s journey from baby assassin to valet to superhero. The movie gives you a lot of time to feel for this character and does a lot of work to get you to root for this character. Shang-Chi is cool. I would watch more things with this character in it. You know who else is really charming? Pretty much everyone else in the cast. Awkwafina is really charming here, and she gets some genuinely funny moments and is really wonderful as an audience stand-in of sorts. I find it kind of neat that the audience has probably spent ten or fifteen minutes with her and when she gets caught up in these perilous, occasionally wacky hijinks, you're actually kind of worried about her… although that may have just been me… I like Awkwafina. Meng’er Zhang is really cool. She gets to kick a ton of ass, and her character actually gets to have some depth and doesn’t just solely exist to kick ass. Speaking of kicking ass, Tony Leung. I don’t even have much else to say, and I don’t need to say much else than: Tony Leung. He’s just the best. And he actually gets to play a supervillain with heart. He’s great. He’s charming. He’s intimidating. He’s just compelling to look at. The way the film builds up Shang-Chi and Wenwu’s relationship worked incredibly well for me. When they finally came face to face and were about to fight (as superheroes and villains tend to do), I actually felt something. I almost wanted to cheer for the characters in the movie. That was neat. Destin Daniel Cretton does a really great job of grounding this story with the relationships between the characters. It makes all the action and conflict feel natural and so much more personal, even when the third act gets insane. The cinematography by Bill Pope is really exciting and energetic. It’s not just muted gray tones the entire time and that was exciting. A lot of the action is captured really well. The action is really entertaining. I’m glad they nailed that, especially since Shang-Chi’s superpower in the comics is pretty much just: he fights good. A lot of credit goes to the incredible stunt performers and stunt coordinators, but a lot of credit goes to Brad Allan who was a tremendous talent taken far too soon.
I really enjoyed this film. It’s a fun movie with some actual stuff inside of it that made me feel something. I look forward to seeing it again, but until then… stay safe Awkwafina, please don’t get killed by a supervillain.