Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

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

Pleasantly surprised.

So... pretty simple story, really. Shaun (Shang-Chi) and his best friend Katy are accosted on the bus by a bear of a man, who turns out to have a long blade in place of a left hand. If that's not bad enough, the big man is with company, for extra back-up.
Now, Shaun, having not yet revealed to be the eponymous Shang-Chi, proceeds to kick ass in spectacular fashion, resulting in beaten-up bad guys, a completely wrecked bus, and a very shocked and confused Katy, who had no idea her friend of 10 years could kung-fu his way out of a mugging.

Who is Shaun, like, really?
Well, thankfully, we get some backstory in the form of his father. Long story short, his dad is a real piece of work who is centuries old, all thanks to some fancy bracelet he wears that gives him way too much power over others. A life-cheat, basically.
By modern times, after the father has achieved all his life-goals and mastered the art of conquering, he hears of a sacred hidden village that holds many secrets. Obviously, he decides to seek it out, as one of life's last few challenges on offer.
Once he discovers the place, his first point of contact is a woman that captures his undivided attention. She, too, boasts similar tricks up her sleeve, which is evident when they spar with one another. Next thing you know, their sparring reveals some flirtatious undertones, as they begin to see each other as equals, but from opposite sides of a spectrum.
Eventually, they put their differences aside as they fall in love and start a family and live happily every ever - their magic bracelets removed and put away. Because who needs ultimate power when you have two kids in tow and chores to do.
Those kids are Shaun and his sister, Xialing.

Which brings us back to the present, where Shaun gets a postcard from Xialing (unlikely, but this is what prompts Shaun to go in search of his sister in a specific location in China).
Now this is where it gets interesting, because Shaun works as a valet in San Francisco, with Katy, when he decides to take unplanned leave on very short notice to go find his sister. What's more, Katy insists that she go with him.
Unfortunately, we don't actually get to see how this plays out with their employer. With both of them working the same days and shifts, to suddenly take off for a whole week (if not longer) must have been a big ask. And anyone that's ever worked anywhere where shifts are concerned, will know what a mess this can cause in the weekly schedule. Some poor sod is going to have to completely re-work the rota, and the audience is only left to imagine how frustrating this must be.

What we do get to see is Shaun's shock to find his grown-up sister is now some sort of Fight Club owner atop a tower that's still (or forever) under construction.
To Shaun's dismay, their reunion is cut short by a gang of ninjas, a fight segment which is both exhilarating and nail-biting, depending on how many movies one's watched over the years. For my almost 5-year-old son, it hasn't been that many, and so he greatly enjoyed the theatrics.

Then we're treated to a little more backstory, in how the sibling's mother was confronted by several of her husband's old rivals, and chose to fight them all with her hands and legs, rather than fish out that ever-powerful bracelet which was sitting in a box in a room just a few feet away. Her actions to stubbornly show off her natural combat skills tragically led to her death. Fortunately, her children came to no harm, for all the bad men also fell to their death by the night's end.
Sadly, when dad came home and found his wife dead, he took to the darkness once again, and re-acquainted himself with both his bracelet and that of his deceased wife. Next thing you know, he's back to his old ways and commanding a cool looking army that any leader would envy.

Back to the present, dad is reunited with his kids, and subsequently imprisons them when they don't feel like going to war with him. After all, he wishes to destroy his late wife's home village, because of the voices he hears in his head.
That's also around the time they find Trevor (Ben Kingsley) who plays an imprisoned actor who talks endlessly about his love of the acting profession and various performances he enacted over the years. He goes on to relay how his passion originated from a performance the monkeys displayed in the original Planet of the Apes. Or maybe it was the monkeys in 2001: A Space Odyssey. I forget.
Then there's mythical creatures to be seen, including dragons, an epic battle between good and evil, and it's not made entirely clear if Shaun and Katy will still have the valet job waiting for them by the time they get back to San Fran.

All in all, entertainment was had.

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