🌸Michael Zak🌸’s review published on Letterboxd:
I know, I know - 5 stars. Really? YES REALLY. Look. Shush up. You have to understand something about me - wuxia (Chinese martial arts) films are like the gateway to my heart. I have been WAITING for Marvel to do something wuxia related, but I NEVER imagined that it would be this amazing. This is, without a doubt, my absolute favorite Marvel film to date - because, among many other reasons, it just feels like a welcomed departure from what they've been doing the past ten years.
Imma talk about this a lot. So if you don't care about this movie, just move on. So, of course, SPOILERS!!!!
Okay. CAN WE PLEASE talk about how amazing that opening fight was between the dad and the mom? How it lovingly payed homage to "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon"?! It was that moment where I leaned in and thought, "Oh fuck yeah, Imma love this movie". The choreography in that fight and in this entire movie is brilliant.
Speaking of dad - DADDY LEUNG. TONY. MY DUDE. AH. I cannot freaking tell you how happy my heart was the entire time he was on screen. I'm so happy a wider audience is FINALLY getting to know the most talented actor of our time. Please, if you are reading this and haven't seen "In The Mood For Love", "Happy Together", "Chungking Express", "Hard Boiled" - GO WATCH THOSE IMMEDIATELY. You can never have too much Tony Leung in your life.
Also - AWKWAFINA. MY GIRL! Love her work, love her work in this film - but credit also has to go to the writers of her character. Yes, she was the comedic relief, yes she killed all the comedy bits, BUT, I love that she had more to do than just be the funny side companion character. She had a real arc, and HOO BOY when she let that arrow fly at the end of the film, I CHEERED. Also shoutout to the writers for having a platonic relationship between the two main characters. More of that please.
TREVOR! Ben Kingsley! AH! I never, ever, EVER thought we were going to see that character again, but I love how the writers essentially went, "yeahhhh we know this character was a joke so, let's just roll with that." Also, omg - MORRIS. I want one. Please, someone get me a Morris.
In fact, perfect segue into ALL the creature designs. Ah. So well done, and so respectful to real Chinese mythology. You have the giant Fu Dogs, the Qilin (the blue horses), the Hulu Jing (9 tailed fox), and of course, my god, THAT DRAGON. Look, when I cry in movies it's usually because of something sad or bittersweet - but when I tell you that I had tears streaming down my face over the awesomeness of the final fight with the dragons - IM TELLING THE TRUTH. It was so overwhelmingly fantastic.
But probably the most impressive thing in this film - was the family dynamic between Shang-Chi and his father. I LOVE when movies turn the villain character on its head, and the fact that this movie digs deep into the father's character and shows us why he's on the current was so rewarding. It 100% made me tear up when he sacrificed his life for Shang Chi. It's what made Black Panther, Infinity War, and Endgame so amazing - great villains.
The character of Shang Chi himself. Fucking A+ man. Simu Liu is amazing here - and all the flashbacks we get to see of him at 7 years old and 14 were so great to flesh out this amazing character. The dynamic between him and his sister COULD have used a bit more work - but I get with a story this big you had to focus on the most important aspect - the relationship between him and his father. I hope they go further with the sister - and based on the post-credits scene, I think they will!
I could go on and on why I loved this so much. Look - like many other people - I'm getting tired of Marvel superhero movies, at least the ones that are just cookie cutter, copy and paste films. (*cough*blackwidow*cough*) But, I think for me, what makes this so great is it's a wuxia film first. It's a Chinese mythological family drama. It's a superhero films last. I think if Marvel continues to go in this direction, focusing on specific genres instead of just trying to make every one of their films look and feel the same - they could continue making films for years to come and I'd see them.