Criticizes “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” (2021)

Review of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings of Destin Daniel Cretton, with Simu Liu, Michelle Yeoh and Tony Leung.

A movement is repeated several times in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten RingsBefore the figures engage in battle, they move one foot in a circle across the ground, familiarize themselves with their surroundings, balance their bodies, and focus on their counterpart. It is a movement that is best known from martial arts movies. He cannot emulate Shang-Chi enough. You can see in the movie how proud he is to do it himself.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings it’s interesting because it adds a fresh, unfamiliar setting to the Marvel universe and makes the world savior roster a bit more diverse. The directors of the franchise around Kevin Feige had to endure accusations of whitewashing, especially because of the casting of Tilda Swinton in Doctor Strange, since a character who is clearly Asian in the comics was changed to a white one. With Shang-Chi (Simu Liu), the Far Eastern’s first superhero finally enters the scene and is allowed to prove himself in a film that sometimes has the liberating power of Black Panther, the adventure that introduced a racial perspective in the Marvel universe.

There are also parallels to Natasha Romanoff’s solo chapter (Black widow), in which the protagonist, played by Scarlett Johansson, has to confront her traumatic past as a brainwashed member of a killer unit and interpersonal relationships play a larger role. The plot of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings it is driven by a family drama that, while not fully explored, provides an emotional foundation that is not necessarily common in blockbuster cinema.

In San Francisco, Shang-Chi leads a quiet and unassuming life as a hotel valet under the name Shaun, but his life is turned upside down from one moment to the next. His best friend and colleague Katy (Awkwafina) gasps when several assailants attack the young man on a bus and his colleague suddenly displays remarkable fighting skills. As he learns soon after, Shang-Chi is the son of the mighty Wenwu (Tony Leung), who runs a secret terrorist organization whose activities, unfortunately, remain quite vague and have caused a lot of trouble over the last thousand years with the help of ten magic rings. He trained his son as an assassin and tried to prepare him for his later leadership role. However, Shang-Chi ended up fleeing and thus eluding his superior’s plans. Along with Katy, the title character eventually goes to Macau, where he searches for his sister Xialing (Meng’er Zhang). However, the reunion ends in a dizzying flight from Wenwu’s henchmen, who pursue a very personal goal at any cost.

Shang-Chi is a protagonist who has left his past behind, but now he can no longer flee and must face his destiny. The film successfully traces this classic development. Yet more exciting than the young man at the center is the father figure, hovering between blind destructiveness, lust for power, breakdown, and despair. Wenwu is not one of the typical want-to-conquer-the-world villains one has had to come across (too) often in Marvel series, but is driven in his actions by the loss of his wife Jiang Li ( Fala Chen). Thanks to her, the once feared conqueror found some peace and started a family. The fact that he, among all of them, could not prevent her violent death, caused by his “business”, weighs on him and makes him undertake a destructive mission.

Since the murder of Jiang Li, revealed in flashbacks, constitutes the core of the story, Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings takes us to his hometown, which is in another dimension. Here, in particular, the film shines with lush coloring, exposing a panorama of fantastic little details. On the trip to this refuge, Katy can also stand out, who in a way acts as a public spokesperson, along with a funny surprise companion that you may already know from the Marvel saga, more than once she wonders what kind of adventure she has gotten into . Awkwafina gives her role a refreshingly gritty charm and shows that she knows exactly how to time little comedic interludes. The script offers far fewer opportunities to profile Meng’er Zhang. Shang-chi’s sister is almost always in the background and is therefore never really tangible. However, a brief scene after the end credits suggests that it may come to light a bit more in the future.

Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings, the latest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, breaks the barriers of the superhero franchise and enters a fantasy world that is inspired by, among other things, the Chinese Wuxia films. Furious sword fights and supernatural appearances take place here.

The first Marvel movie to feature an Asian lead actor – the honor goes to Simu Liu, known for the Canadian sitcom Kim’s Convenience– wants to move the familiar universe in a new direction and introduces us to numerous characters, locations and other elements that we have never seen before in the MCU. However, Shang-Chi cannot escape the constrictive patterns suffered by his predecessors. Game and defeat go hand in hand.

With the director of Short Term 12, Destin Daniel Cretton, in the director’s chair, Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings it was considered one of the great hopes of the fourth phase of the MCU. Thanks to the exciting talents in front of and behind the camera, the film certainly deserves a look, but it is far from the great success it could have been. For every step that Shang-Chi takes forward in the context of the MCU, he cinematically goes back one step until he reaches an interchangeable CGI ending.

The care and devotion with which the characters prepare for the upcoming combat with the footwork described at the beginning, pales in the face of the unimaginative din. Its beauty is totally misunderstood. The most shocking moment of Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings takes place in a scene in which a magical territory is to be conquered, with a jeep carelessly crashing into the area, destroying every last spark of magic.

Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings it’s not a bad movie. However, at this point, you wonder how much interest the MCU really has in discovering new and unknown worlds. The jeep is a foreign body in the picturesque landscape, but not one that fulfills a narrative function and skillfully illustrates the intrusion into the alien, it is the expression of a lack of creativity and imagination. Marvel takes the easy route to get there: efficient, but not refreshing.

The action sequences, indispensable for a Marvel movie, are arranged with remarkable poise by director Destin Daniel Cretton, who most recently directed the vigilante drama. Just Mercy. It’s not just the passionate fight orchestrated on a moving bus that sticks with you. Tangible confrontations on a bamboo scaffold also set the pulse racing. However, as in many other titles in the series, the big showdown, which is supposed to get us fully into the action and overwhelm us, is weak. The monster show that Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings starts up here, reminiscent of an entry from Godzilla, it has exactly the opposite effect. Characters become pawns in a largely computer-generated and sometimes disappointingly artificial-looking showdown that takes place against a drab dark backdrop. In the end, it’s hard to fully indulge in the hustle and bustle of the screen.

The start in phase four was surprising: until shortly before the end, WandaVision it was one of the most imaginative superhero stories of the last ten years. Aside from some well-staged action scenes by MCU standards, Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings sadly, he settles for too many standard situations and neglects acting legends like Tony Leung and Michelle Yeoh in the most criminal way. Astonishment turns to horror.

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Criticizes “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” (2021)