theshire’s review published on Letterboxd:
If you aim at nothing you hit nothing.
I didn't go into this movie expecting it to be great.
It might have been an unfair assumption on my part but the recent marvel movies were not particularly amazing. I thought this would be like one of the many other marvel movies that are just okay, like Black Widow recently or Endgame a few years back. The latter embodies everything that's wrong about the marvel formula, it's a movie that justifies the gripe that some rightfully have with cb movies in general, a glorified fan fiction solely made to generate profit.
Shang Chi on the other hand was a delightful experience, the good overshadowed the bad. It's an incredibly well told and compelling story. What really sets Shang Chi apart in the marvel cinematic universe, despite having some of the formulatic aspects of the others, is the fact that it doesn't shy away from taking risks.
Sure the action scenes were well choreographed but it goes beyond the comic book storytelling. It's not just kung fu and superpowers. Shang Chi wraps in together, a beautiful tale on chinese mythology, love, life and loss.
Unfortunately, Simu Liu doesn't manage to establish the inner struggle of the character as presented by his backstory. We end up with a surface level character whose presented complexity doesn't actually translate onto the screen, there is no darkness or light, just glazed emptiness.
Where the main protagonist fails to capture the audience, the supporting characters come in and seize the moment. The movie kept feeding off emotional flashbacks throughout the film, a recollection of a tale that was once told.
Shang Chi is the product of everything that came before it, wonky comic book movies vfx, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, the extravagance of the marvel cinematic universe, chinese mythology, etc.
The film is a bold, subjugating, beautiful mess.