circ’s review published on Letterboxd:
Expecting this to age well in the future so I'm rating it 3.5 right now and also because it stuck with me quite a bit than I expected it to(certainly way more than other marvel movie that came out this year) and had good drama, some of which I normally wouldn't expect from a marvel movie.
I was expecting this to be awful but I had alot of fun, not gonna lie. EASILY the best action in the MCU since... maybe Iron Man 3? The usual marvelisms bleed through which holds the film from going into the "great territory" but fuck it, they finally learned how to hold on a camera for more than 3 seconds and use it in a creative and fun way so I was satisfied. Choreography has mostly been good in these movies(it's always the editing and the way they're shot that brings them down) but much like in Captain Marvel, it felt very character/story motivated here. I didn't care about the CGI nonsense near the end but for the rest of the film, I was very engaged during the action scenes. Especially when Wenwu fights his wife. Very much wuxia and in the lanes of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Also had a nice cultural feel to it and I'm a sucker for that sort of thing.
As for the story, it was cool. Themes of abandonment are decently explored. My only real major problem with the film is how Shang-Chi is written. I found his arc to be a mess and it felt like different writers had different ideas for the character, not to mention literally everyone else in the film is more interesting than him.
Xu Xialing the best fighter imo, so many of her fight moves made be audibly yell "oof" and "sheesh". Though, Tony Leung has to be the MVP. The best MCU villain since Ego. He brought so much gravitas to the role and made him feel human and a boss level threat at the same time. The whole overhyped "Another great MCU villain" bandwagon that has been going on since the start of Phase-3, I've never understood it tbh. Aside from Ego, I've always been underwhelmed mainly due to utter lack of screen time they get. Like, it's always just me sitting in a theater waiting for them to show up and when they do, some of it is good, some of it is meh and then it just quickly sort of ends and it's always frustrating. I'm not sure how much screen time Wenwu gets here but it felt plenty and just felt "right". Even when he's not on screen, I felt his presence. He actually felt like a threat to me, like a glooming shadow in the background. Plus, he also had some of the absolute boss lines in this franchise, and Tony Leung effortlessly sells every bit of it whether it's the delivery, the physicality or the mannerisms of his character. He does a great job at bringing a satisfying amount of depth and vulnerability to the character(he also does his signature eye thingy so there you go). I'm also glad that they didn't take much away from Iron Man 3. I mean, obviously they pandered to the dumb fanboys but it also felt like they had a compelling story arc for him and they did a great job so I can't complain anyway. Also really liked Wenwu mocking dumb Americans and how they perceive the foreign cultures. They should've just made the whole story about him instead.
Overall, I liked it. Comfortably sits in the Top 10 of the MCU for me.