Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

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

"You are a product of all who came before you, the legacy of your family."

...and so is Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, cause the film's generic and perfunctory nature is perfectly in line with what has come before, regardless of its Eastern veneer.

That's not to say Shang-Chi is bad, because it's wholly competent and well produced, but that's the inherent problem with these movies. They never surprise, strictly follow a set pattern (how many more times are we going to get the self-doubting but "gifted" hero who unleashes his birthright power?), and always devolve into a CGI mess by the end that betrays whatever personal or cultural significance they're trying to achieve. Also, a martial arts movie like this should feel more gritty and lived in, not look like it was made on a computer. Shang-Chi works well enough, and it does entertain in the moment, but it still feels made by committee, because it obviously is.

Admittedly, I do appreciate how Shang-Chi highlights the cultural appropriation of its own universe, specifically with how the Mandarin was always a cultural insensitive creation, but it's still just a set-up for some low hanging jokes and comical beats. As such, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is competent but forgettable, perfectly in line with what has come before.

I wish a real cinematic visionary like Zhang Yimou (whose Raise the Red Lantern, Hero, and House of the Flying Daggers remain some of the most beautiful Chinese movies I've ever seen) could have taken a crack at this material, give it a real Eastern feel and aesthetic, instead of simply a generic one. But we all know the Marvel and Disney machinery would never allow that to happen.

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