Tradition meets contemporary culture in Marvel’s latest film, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. With a majority Asian cast, and a long-ass title, the movie more than delivers in its fight sequences, story, comedy and regard for Chinese mythology. Though one of the few movies currently available only in theaters, it’s already earned $71.4 million -nationally in its opening weekend—impressive for a Marvel movie that didn’t receive much promotion compared to its previous films.
Set in urban sprawls, high-rises and jaw-dropping rural landscapes, the movie begins with the family history and childhood of our main character, Shang-Chi, (Simu Liu), who is initially called Shaun—one of the many accurate jokes within the movie about the Americanization of Asian cultures. As an adult, Shang-Chi is forced to confront his complicated relationship with his father and accept his destiny as ruler of the Ten Rings, ancient objects which aren’t exactly explained but just understood to give the wearer incredible power and immortality. Joining Shang-Chi on his adventure is best friend Katy played by Awkwafina who, with this excellent performance, -cements herself as a box-office star worthy of a long future in Hollywood.
Taking place sometime after Avengers: Endgame, it’s worth noting audiences can still enjoy Shang-Chi even if they don’t follow the Marvel timeline—I mean, who can? Deep fans will also recognize familiar characters who hint at what relationship Shang-Chi might play in relation to future Marvel plots and characters. But this film really holds its own as an origin story. Here, director Destin Daniel Cretton really invests a lot into the history of Shang-Chi’s family and childhood, which makes the movie feel so rich. It doesn’t reduce him to just another character thrown into the Marvel universe. Instead, after watching the film, audiences may wonder if Shang-Chi even needs Marvel.
+ Beautiful, just beautiful.
- More Marvel plots and characters to follow
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton
With Liu, Awkwafina and Tony Chiu-Wai Leung
Violet Crown, PG-13, 132 min