Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

2021, Action/Fantasy, 2h 13m

282 Reviews 10,000+ Verified Ratings

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critics consensus

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings isn't entirely free of Marvel's familiar formula, but this exciting origin story expands the MCU in more ways than one. Read critic reviews

audience says

Shang-Chi covers new cultural ground for the MCU without losing any of the action, comedy, and emotion Marvel's movies are known for. Read audience reviews

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Movie Info

Marvel Studios' "Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings" stars Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, who must confront the past he thought he left behind when he is drawn into the web of the mysterious Ten Rings organization. The film also stars Tony Leung as Wenwu, Awkwafina as Shang-Chi's friend Katy and Michelle Yeoh as Jiang Nan, as well as Fala Chen, Meng'er Zhang, Florian Munteanu and Ronny Chieng.

Cast & Crew

Critic Reviews for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Audience Reviews for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

  • 2h ago
    Great watch! I thought I was over martial arts flicks having grown up on Hong Kong media but Hollywood really knows how to elevate the same style choreography with effective camera angles and impact shots. The movie leans effectively on Asian familial themes creating resonating character stories that play out in unison with an extravagant mythos of Chinese inspired fantasy. My only gripes really is that the movie feels too standalone despite plenty of supporting roles filled by existing MCU characters. By the final acts of the film the urgency and drama of the antagonistic threat felt so disconnected from the "real world" and almost inconsequential. No, Shang Chi definitely shines most in its character themes and relationships despite their obvious nature. I think there's a sincerity in the way Tony Leung and Simu Liu were able to bring to their roles that really pushed what could've felt like a trite ordeal. Aquafina's personal narrative also resonates a lot with this generation of uninspired young adults. Shang Chi is a Marvel film that pushes iconic cultural identity by genre mixing blockbuster action with period-Chinese-martial-arts flicks while delivering the same value of quality entertainment that the MCU has for years. A relatively fresh and welcome addition to the franchise.
    Drake T Super Reviewer
  • 3d ago
    After dominating the cinemas for over the last decade, Marvel took 2020 off thanks to that great menace even its own superheroes couldn't overpower. Now in 2021, we're eager for those big popcorn thrills of old, of a time before lockdowns and denials and vaccine misinformation. There's a gauntlet of Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies coming down the chute, including The Eternals (November), Spider-Man 3 (December), Doctor Strange 2 (March), Thor 4 (May), Black Panther 2 (July), and Captain Marvel 2 (November). That's eight movies from July 2021 to November 2022, and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings might just be the one that has the least recognition with the general public (I had never heard of him, sorry). And yet, I entered a theater for the first time in two months to see Marvel's latest superhero blockbuster on the big screen, and as the MCU's first foray into the fantastical world of martial arts epics, Shang-Chi is a mostly agreeable success in the realm of expert face punching. Shang-Chi (Simu Lei) is the son of a very dangerous and powerful man, Xu Wenwu (Tony Leung), who has lived for thousands of years thanks to the power of ten magic rings that give him tremendous power to annihilate armies. Shang-Chi ran away as a teenager, leaving his sister Xialing (Meng-er Zhang) behind. She sends word requesting her brother's assistance; dear old dad is on the warpath, and the two siblings might be the only ones who can stop him. Shang-Chi, living as Shawn in San Francisco, is trying to avoid larger responsibility as a valet with his good pal Katy (Awkwafina). However, he cannot ignore the assassins his father has sent, and so he and Katy travel back to China to regroup with Shang-Chi's sister and face his destiny. This is the most fantasy-heavy movie of a universe that previously defined the magic from the Thor universe as just another advanced form of science. The entire third act looks like it's taking place in Narnia itself; legitimately, the color palate and overly lit, CGI-assisted green landscapes reminded me so much of the 2005 adaptation of C.S. Lewis' novel. Within the extended prologue over the history of the ten rings, the movie is acclimating you toward its larger-than-life universe that it treats with sincerity and graceful appreciation. The courtship of Shang-Chi's parents is handled in that flirt-fight style reminiscent in classic martial arts films, and the balletic wire work and dreamy slow-motion, set to the soothing flute-heavy musical score, evokes romantic memories of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Very early on, the work goes into convincing you that Marvel is taking this assignment seriously, and I appreciated that assurance and the follow-through. From a pure filmmaking standpoint, Shang-Chi works as a martial arts action film because it's filmed and edited like one should be. The camerawork is vividly fluid and consistently roaming around the space of battle to better showcase the choreography and effort of the performers. The editing is also likewise very smooth and patient, with lots of longer takes blending together so that we can see multiple moves and counter moves, and if there are throws, we'll travel with the fighters to continue the fight. I enjoyed a fight taking place on multiple levels of scaffolding. It all made my girlfriend nauseated in our theater, so you might be affected as well if you have a susceptibility to cinematic motion sickness. This movie allows you in on the martial arts fun. I wasn't expecting this kind of leap from co-writer/director Destin Daniel Cretton. This man was responsible for one of the best films of 2013, and the 2010s-decade, Short Term 12, which starred (drumroll please) future Oscar-winner Brie Larson, future Oscar-winner Rami Malek, future Oscar-nominee LaKeith Stanfield, Kaitlyn Dever (Booksmart), Stephanie Beatriz (Brooklyn 99, In the Heights) and the best-known actor at the time of release, John Gallagher Jr. (HBO's The Newsroom). Wow that cast is an all-timer. This is like the Millennial Outsiders with a cast of up-and-coming actors who have gone on to ascendant and award-winning careers. It's also a hard-hitting, deeply emotional and upending movie worth your time. Cretton has stuck to adult dramas based upon real stories of people struggling through the justice system (Just Mercy) and parental dysfunction (The Glass Castle). A big-budget martial arts epic I wasn't expecting, and perhaps the Marvel Machine makes it easy for indie auteurs to plug right in, but it feels like Cretton clearly has an affection and at least a tacit understanding of favorable stylistic genre choices. At this point I shouldn't discount what filmmakers can make those big artistic leaps with a studio project. James Gunn can go from Super to the Guardians of the Galaxy, and so Cretton can go from Short Term 12 to helming a large-scale, CGI-heavy martial arts fantasy. Another aspect I found pleasantly surprising was the amount of work put into its primary villain and the ensuring father/son dynamic. I'm not going to say that Xu Wenwu, a.k.a. The Real Mandarin, is one of the more complicated or nuanced villains in MCU history, but he's given more dimension than a simple "destroy and/or conquer the world" motivation. In fact, that was the motivation for the man before he met Jiang Li (Fela Chen), Shang-Chi's eventual mother. Real Mandarin (or RN as I'll refer to him because I'm lazy) was going about the whole conquer and raze kingdoms thing for thousands of years, establishing another one of those all-powerful yet still clandestine and very vague shadow societies pulling the levers of power. He found a person who made him want to reform, to put his old ways of violence behind, and it's her death that spurs him back to his views of power absolving all conflicts, so the most powerful is the one who can have the most say and protect the people close to him or her. If he had the full power of those ten rings, ordinary gangsters wouldn't have dared to threaten or harm his loved ones. He trained his son to follow by example, and despite the fact that he sent trained killers after his son rather than a more constructive and clearer message, RN declares his love for his children. He is moving forward to return his beloved back to the land of the living. Being motivated by grief and wanting to see a departed loved one no matter the cost is a relatable struggle and one that brings degrees of nuance that Leung can imbue with his great pained, hangdog expressions. Having a father be the villain but still love his children and be primarily motivated by bringing back his dead wife and honestly assessing how she made him a better person is a breath of fresh-ish air. Liu (Kim's Convenience) is easily charming and demonstrates a sharp affinity for the martial arts training and choreography. With the longer takes and clean edits, it's clear that Liu is performing many of the moves, and he moves with great skill and balance to believably crack some skulls. A fight aboard a city bus is our real intro into seeing this man as he's avoided, as a well-trained fighting machine, the identity of his father that he's been attempting to run away from. Liu has a self-effacing charm to him that doesn't cross over into smug. Awkwafina (The Farewell) is her reliable comic relief asset, though too often the movie resorts to just spotlighting her for a riff or one-liner when the context doesn't provide the opportunity. It's rather mystifying why her supporting character, a normal human, would accompany her pal into the word of underground martial arts ninja conspiracy fantasy, let alone that she could take up a bow and arrow and becomes a valuable member of a fighting force. Leung (2046, The Grandmaster) is just movie royalty, so getting him to read the phone book would have been an acceptable start. He sits out for long periods and his absence is noted. He brings such a heaviness, a quiet yet dignified despondency to the character, and there are several instances where he undersells his character's danger and power, which just makes him so much more intimidating. I feel like Leung is finding connections with the somber, brooding heartache of his War Kong Wai roles, and yes film nerds, I just made that connection for a Marvel movie. Not everything quite works in this MCU outing. There are several jumps in the screenplay that feel like further revision or clarity were necessary. I don't really know why Shang-Chi is finally able to take on his father at the end except for some abstract concept of, I guess, believing in himself more. The power of the rings feels a little too unexplored for deserving of the movie's subtitle. The rings come almost as an afterthought for much of the movie. There are a few moments where I was trying to connect how characters understood what they were supposed to do in any given moment, and I just gave up, which is kind of what the film also feels like it's doing. There are clear characters included with the sole decision to sell merchandise. I don't know if the nation's children will be screaming for a faceless winged furry ottoman but that's the gamble Marvel execs took and by God, you're going to get many appearances. The sister addition to the movie feels decidedly undernourished, like she's drafting from the father/son relationship that's getting all the narrative attention. It feels like occasionally the movie pans to her to nod and go, "Oh yeah, me too." The visual color palate is so brightly colored for so long, and then once the big splashy Act Three battle commences between CGI good and CGI evil, the visuals become so grey and murky and definitely hard to keep track of in the scrum. I wish the fantasy rules were more streamlined and explored rather than feeling grafted on when needed and forgotten when inconvenient, but this is their first foray into this sub-genre of action and while Marvel doesn't need a sliding scale at this point, it's still a moderate achievement. Look, this isn't exactly The Raid or Ip Man or anything that will challenge the most heart-pounding, intense, acrobatic heights of the crossover martial arts epic. Consider it a solid effort at watering down a Hero or House of Flying Daggers and switching over to the typical Marvel formula final act complete with onslaught of weightless CGI. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a fun action movie that does just enough right to land it in the cushy middle-of-the-middle for the annuls of the MCU (I would rank it around the level of Black Panther). The fight choreography and presentation, as well as the exploration of the father/son dynamics, are surprisingly refined, which is good considering one provides the entertainment value for the eyes and the other the emotional connection for everything to matter more than flashes of punches and kicks and fireballs. It doesn't transcend its genre or the tried-and-true Marvel formula, but it's packed with enough to even keep a casual fan entertained for most of its 130 minutes. It's more of a one-off that doesn't require extensive knowledge of the two dozen other MCU titles, so Shang-Chi might be just the right Saturday morning cartoon of a movie to introduce new people to the larger world of Marvel movies. Nate's Grade: B
    Nate Z Super Reviewer
  • Sep 03, 2021
    When Iron Man hit theatres back in 2008, there were rumblings about a cinematic universe starting, but obviously, nobody expected that we would make it to a film like Avengers: Endgame at the time. Along the way, unknown properties like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man came out of nowhere as well but were welcomed with open arms. I was really hoping that Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings would follow in those footsteps, and it more than does. With rich world-building, a great cast, and the use of mythology, this is one of my favourite Marvel Cinematic Universe entries to date. Over time I may even come to appreciate it even more. After a first viewing, here's why Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings deserves to be seen on the big screen (if you can). After being trained as an assassin by his father, Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) is given ten years of freedom from this life. In the present, the film picks up with Shang-Chi (Shaun) as he is living a normal life in San Francisco with his friend Katy (Awkwafina). When the history/mythology of the so-called Ten Rings is brought back into the forefront, his mission is to go and find his father. With the help of his friend and sister, they return home to face the music and it may just end up being father vs son to save this world. From start to finish, this film delves into the fun, the mythological, the family drama, and some incredible martial arts in order to tell this very solid story. Aside from the fact that newcomer Simu Liu is undeniably charming and very likeable in this role, it's the unique style of the movie that made it stand out from the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yes, it still has the same look and feel, especially when it comes to aesthetics and comedic relief, but the rest of the film had its own distinct heartbeat. Bringing martial arts into this franchise just felt like a breath of fresh air to me. Not only does it feel simultaneous that they're trying to have fun and pay homage to classic films of this nature, but the fact that martial arts, mixed with actual god-like powers just felt so earned by the climax of the film. Without giving anything away, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is far more magical and mystical than I was expecting, but I kind of loved the finale when looking back on it.  There's really not much about this film that I feel compelled to complain about, but I will say that with as much drama that this film has and with how much it does dive into mythology, sometimes the comedy felt out of place. Awkwafina as Katy was great and I think her chemistry with Simu Liu was great as well, but I think certain cuts to her one-liners felt a little unnecessary for the specific situation. There are a few scenes where moments deserve our full attention, but the film felt the need to cut away to something funnier. Aside from the humour taking me out a few times, this film is just a blast.  Overall, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Tens Rings is easily at the top of the origin films that this franchise has given us and probably one of my favourite entries as a whole. Director Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12, Just Mercy) has done a great job here and the cinematography by Bill Pope (The Matrix, Baby Driver) was also a real standout. I thought the scope of the movie felt very grand and that's absolutely in part to how it was filmed. I almost thought the finale of the movie was going to be a huge negative, but again, after thinking about the movie again, there is a nice progression in the story that makes the climax feel earned, even if a tad overblown. If you're a fan of this franchise, this one is a must-see, but even if you're not, this one can stand on its own as well, having only a few acknowledgements to previous films.  Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is now playing exclusively in theatres and if you're able to go in your area, I highly recommend it.
    KJ P Super Reviewer

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