Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings ★★★½

Simu Liu steps to the fore as the MCU’s newest stereotype-shaking superhero, Shang-Chi. He showcases a captivating physique whilst throwing super-powered jabs and rotating his way through bold bomber jackets. Liu is suitably charismatic in the role and Marvel’s Master of Kung Fu finds himself in a family feud set against fantastical surroundings. This martial artist is a character with unparalleled agility, aided by the amusing Awkwafina, playing, well, Awkwafina. It comes as no surprise that she hilariously steals virtually every scene that she’s in. There’s quality support from Tony Leung and Michelle Yeoh also, who add a level of prestige to each of their respective characters.

Set pieces are gracefully executed (especially those with martial arts) and the holder of the legendary rings uses a certain level of charm to manipulate their beaming magic. This is all complemented by an elegant score from Joel P West. However, maybe it was my 02:30 work alarm and a screening several hours later at 19:20, but I felt that the film’s third quarter hit a serious lull. Following a trip into the woods, the momentum just drops off completely. Thankfully, any losses are recouped in an exhilarating and epic third act that mirrors Black Panther’s Wakanda battle. It is a CGI spectacle and the effects look much better than those seen in the first half of the movie. Either those earlier sequences were overly ambitious or the effects were rushed.

While I fully appreciate that the aftermath of each of the last two Avengers movies were Earth-shattering, there must be a better way to reference the blip / snap / blackout / whatever the hell we’re calling it. Character dialogue that references the mass human wipeout seems to just come across as an awkward *wink wink, knudge knudge* let’s dredge this up again and take control of our lives. In addition, while a funny inclusion and wayfinder of sorts, I don’t think there was much need for that Phase Two cameo.

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