Movie Plot – Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: Shang-Chi, the master of unarmed, weapon-based Kung Fu, is forced to face his past after being drawn into the Ten Rings organization.

Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Writers: Dave Callaham, Destin Daniel Cretton, Andrew Lanham
Cast: Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, Meng’er Zhang, Benedict Wong

Phase 4 begins

Shang-Chi and the legends of The Ten Rings is the first film set in Phase 4 after the events of Endgame. Black Widow is also part of this phase, but it is set in the past. Therefore I am not taking it into account because we know she will not return. Of course, there is always a possibility with the multiverse that Marvel will be exploring.

Just as Marvel Comics has differentiated quite a bit over the years to ensure that their many superheroes didn’t become too similar, they again manage to bring a new genre. Shang-Chi looks like a mixture of Jackie Chan films and fantasy. Believe me, their formula really works.

Marvel’s film division always tries to draw on other film genres. Each of their productions becomes something more than just another superhero movie. With Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, it’s the turn of the martial arts. It’s an Asian feature film with fantasy elements.

Shaun/ Shang-Chi

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings appear to have been made for the Chinese film market, and the focus may be a little more on Asian-American viewers. Shang-Chi feels very Asian-American due to his lifestyle in the present day. For me, it’s always fun to explore heroes that I’m not familiar with. I’m primarily a DC comic book reader, and I’m not familiar with some of Marvel’s characters. That was also the case for the Guardians of The Galaxy. I’m always happy to become acquainted with some new heroes I’ve never heard of before.

In the film, we meet Shaun, which is the name he chose to hide his real name. He is a somewhat unremarkable young man who is bursting with potential but seems perfectly content with his simple life. This is disrupted when one day he gets into an altercation with a bunch of violent characters on a city bus, forcing him to reveal to the outside world what an effective fighting machine he really is. And in case that scene sounds familiar: indeed, in the film “Nobody,” the same thing happens, but in a different context. However, I take that as a coincidence. The attack on the bus is related to the dark past that Shaun (whose real name is Shang-Chi) thought he had escaped as a teenager.

I have absolutely no knowledge about who Simu Liu (the actor who plays Shang-Chi) is and what movies he has played in. One of my biggest concerns was whether Marvel was going to succeed in making him and Akwafina likable and that it wasn’t going to come across as cringy. Fortunately, the humor, the acting, the story combine perfectly. Simu Liu is a great actor who knows how to bring the character and give it depth. Along with that, Akwafina’s humor is an excellent addition without it ever feeling “too much.”

Family

It may surprise you if you haven’t seen this film yet, but family is very much the focus here. This time we get the real Mandarin, who is also Shang-Chi’s father and who is centuries old thanks to the ten rings. Expect a lot of flashbacks, but they bring a lot to the story and are one of my favorite elements of the film. It teaches us who they really are and where they come from. As a viewer, you begin to understand each character more and more.

Let’s not stop with the father, but also include his sister Xialing (Meng’er Zhang), who is a total badass. However, I do feel like she’s the only character to be slightly pushed aside while they were trying not to. However, that’s a tiny nitpick from me. In addition, you also had their mother’s backstory and on how their both parents met. All the family matters really picked my interest, and the movie gave you just enough information. I didn’t need more or less of it.

What makes this movie great is its villain, who has more to offer than many other ones. He has depth, motives and an understandable reason for his actions. His relationship with Shang-Chi is something that intrigued me. Having great villains has always been Marvel’s weakest point, but not this time.

First Half compared to the Second Half

The first and second half of “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” feel completely different but coherent. The story flows well through the two parts.

For the first part, it’s like watching a Jackie Chan film where Shang-Chi uses Kung Fu while using all his surroundings. The actions scenes are incredibly well choreographed. My jaw was dropping to the floor of all these magnificent fight scenes.

In contrary to the first half, the second half is like you’re watching a fantasy movie. You will see many fantasy elements, and I’m not going to spoil anything for you further. Personally, I’ve only seen the first trailer, so that part was unexpected. Thankfully, the style and cinematography fit perfectly in the Marvel Universe.

I do prefer the style of the first part, where it felt more realistic. It was refreshing to watch it as it reminded me of some 90 action flicks.

Conclusion

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings exceeded my expectations with lots of action scenes combined with a touch of fantasy. Be prepared to see some jaw-dropping well-filmed action scenes.