Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

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

Shang-Chi boasts the greatest fight scenes Marvel Studios has ever thrown together — for the first time in what feels like forever, you can actually see more than one motion per shot, which makes everything feel much more dynamic and intentional.

The narrative, on the other hand, is on the weaker end — it stretches very thin, littered with clichés, and gets incredibly repetitive. The backstory takes up a very large portion of the movie, but doesn’t reveal much about the characters beyond some basic facts. What do we know about Shang-Chi by the end of the movie? How would you describe him or his sister beyond their fighting abilities and their crappy dad? Tony Leung does what he can with the very limited material, but it’s not enough to make the story remotely emotionally resonant.

Time elapsed between fight scenes does not automatically create depth or feeling — it’s strange that this movie exceeds two hours but leaves such minimal impressions about its characters. And the humor is even rougher than usual — I was in a pretty crowded theater, and maybe half the jokes got the laughs that the movie seemed to expect based on the pauses it inserts afterward. At least the fight scenes were exciting.

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