Luke Thorne’s review published on Letterboxd:
Destin Daniel Cretton’s action adventure in which the expert of weaponry-based Kung Fu finds himself being drawn into the Ten Rings association.
The 25th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is most notable for being the first film in this long-running series to have an Asian director and a mostly Asian cast, which is fantastic (the representation of Asian culture works really well) – and the final product is a very satisfying one indeed.
The movie concentrates on Shang-Chi (Simu Lu), who is left with no option but to deal with his history after his father Wenwu (Tony Leung), the person in charge of the Ten Rings organization, draws Shang-Chi and his sister Xialing (Meng’er Zhang) into a lookout for a legendary village.
Simu Lu and Tony Leung both give very good performances in their respective parts as the title character Shang-Chi and Wenwu. Shang-Chi is the master of Kung Fu who has to be careful with himself, while Wenmu is Shang-Chi’s father who is in charge of the Ten Rings and also acts like he is the boss.
Elsewhere, there are decent performances to be had from Awafina (The Farewell) and Meng’er Zhang in their respective roles as Katy and Xialing. Katy is Shang-Chi’s best friend, while Xialing is Shang-Chi’s sister who is keeping him company.
Also giving respectable performances are Fala Chen as Wenmu’s wife and Shang-Chi’s mother Ying Li, Benedict Wong as the expert of Mystic Arts Wong, Michelle Yeoh as Shang-Chi’s aunt Ying Nan and Ben Kinglsey as the actor Trevor Slattery.
The direction from Cretton is very good because he allows the facial expressions to be seen to a strong effect throughout, while also keeping a mixed atmosphere happening as well.
The script is written to a decent standard by the director, Dave Callaham and Andrew Lanham as they make the movie easy to follow and create some humour too, meaning the movie never takes itself too seriously. But even when the movie isn’t funny, you can still understand what is happening, because the narrative is definitely there from beginning to end.
The camera, music, sound and visual effects stand out best in terms of the technical aspects, because the camera makes very good use of the locations and also captures the tense and funny moments and action sequences well, which get the edge-of-the-seat status; the music is enjoyable to listen to; the sound is excellent as you have to listen carefully; the visual effects dazzle when they appear on screen.
The only criticism I have is that the pace is a little slow at times.
Overall, despite the pacing, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a very decent superhero action adventure, due to the very good performances in particular from Simu Lu and Tony Leung, along with the direction, script, mixed atmopshere, action sequences, some humour and technical aspects.