The latest Marvel Studios film is ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend Of The Ten Rings’ and follows `Martial-arts master Shang-Chi as he confronts the past he thought he left behind when he’s drawn into the web of the mysterious Ten Rings organization. For me, as probably with many fans of the Marvel shows and films, you might not really know who Shang-Chi is, but this film certainly sets him up as a major player within the MCU.
This film is easily one of my favourite Marvel films so far. It’s extremely different to anything we’ve seen so far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I have been looking forward to this film ever since the first trailer was announced, because it’s a huge epic martial arts film, with many aspects of Asian heritage represented.
While we’ve seen martial arts in some Marvel shows like ‘Iron Fist’ or ‘Daredevil’, this just takes it to another level. I’ve enjoyed many epic martial arts films over the years, titles like ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’, ‘Hero’, or ‘House Of Flying Daggers’. And this film was able to capture that spirit, that feeling of watching something beautiful. With some amazing fighting scenes, that are completely unrealistic, but are just fun to watch.
That doesn’t mean that this film is completely grounded in reality, because the entire third act takes this film off in an entirely different direction to where I thought it was going. It’s completely over the top, pulling in references from Asian heritage and just delivering an awe-inspiring epic final battle that feels completely different to anything we’ve seen so far, and I loved it.
I do think because I’ve enjoyed many great Asian films over the years, the use of subtitles didn’t bother me too much. If anything, it actually made the film more immersive, as I kinda forgot I was watching a Marvel movie, which I really liked about this film. It’s different, and that’s a good thing.
Simu Liu, who plays Shang-Chi, is a very likeable actor. He’s able to capture that common guy feel, but also is believable when he has to step up and fight. Ultimately, without him being likeable, this film wouldn’t have worked. The addition of Awkwafina and Ben Kingsley also help keep the film grounded, as they bring many laughs to the story. Bringing in Tony Slatery (aka The Mandarin) helps connect the film to the Iron Man franchise, while also giving us some laughs (though I’m not sure about that chicken/pig thingy). But it’s the addition of Awkwafina, that helps this story along, as she acts as our eyes and ears, so whenever something needs explaining to us, they use her character. It’s a well-used method, but it works.
There are, as you would expect, many little nods to the events in the larger MCU. There is one big key scene in the credits, which bring Shang-Chi well and truly into the fold as a major player, as the Ten Rings are actually sending out to someone or something, which could indicate a larger villain is on route to bring Shang-Chi back into action. Seeing him there talking with so many other major characters didn’t seem so out of place, following the big epic fight scene. At the same time, his introduction to other well known Marvel characters during the film was a little less impressive as that whole cage fight scene was a bit of a letdown after the trailers, which is why it’s never a good idea to watch too many clips (I only watched the main trailer once). Another post-credit scene shows the ‘Ten Rings’ aren’t over yet and will be returning, which was completely expected.
The locations looked amazing, especially as the locations used are in stark contrast with one another. With the snowcapped mountains, a strange forest, a temple and a huge skyscraper in modern Macau. It all blends together and brings us on a tour of the world. I also have to give the nod to the music in the film, as I found the score to be so beautiful, once again, taking me back to those big epic martial arts films that I’ve loved. And that’s one of the key reasons why I’ve been so excited about this film. It combines those elements from a genre I love and mixed it up with Marvel, who are fantastic at taking the superhero genre in so many different directions. We’ve not had an origin story film for a while, and Shang-Chi deserved it. They took a lesser-known character and completely brought him to the forefront. But also delivered something so fresh for Marvel fans. We’ve been spoilt this year with so many different styles of Marvel content, and we’ve still got more to come.
As I sit here writing this, I’m really struggling to think of anything I didn’t like about this film and honestly, bar a couple of minor things like wanting more of the Abomination in the film. I’m left wanting more, and that’s always a good thing.
‘Shang-Chi and the Legend Of The Ten Rings’ is a complete blast from start to end. It’s a hybrid of an epic martial art film with some Godzilla vs King Kong moments, with a hint of Marvel. It’s a huge summer blockbuster that delivers everything I wanted from it and much more. I really enjoyed this movie so much, and I honestly can’t wait to rewatch the film again when it arrives on Disney+ later this year.
Rating – 5 out of 5.
‘Shang-Chi and the Legend Of The Ten Rings’ is available exclusively in theatres for 45 days before being released on Disney+ or other digital platforms.