Marvel Continues Streak Of Excellence With Shang-Chi

Sept. 3, Marvel Studios released their twenty-fifth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12, The Glass Castle, Just Mercy), Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was released to theaters and tells the story of Shang-Chi, as he is forced to confront his past and his father’s Ten Rings organization.


After the gargantuan finale of Avengers: Endgame, Marvel seemed as though they would begin to diminish in quality. Nevertheless, after Disney+ hits like WandaVision & Loki, they’ve proven they still know how to put out engaging cinematic blockbusters.  


The film is a pleasant surprise in many ways, especially through the superb casting. Awkwafina (Ocean’s Eight, Crazy Rich Asians, The Farewell) is genuine in her performance and has the perfect balance of comic relief and emotional support as Simu’s friend Katy. She works well at matching Shang-Chi’s personality to create a well-balanced duo of heart and humor. Newcomer Simu Liu makes a name for himself right out of the gate. He appeared to be having true fun with the role as he found a way to make Shang-Chi down to earth in his approach as well as adopting the role of an intimidating superhero. Legendary actor Tony Leung (known from Wong Kar-wai’s arthouse films) proved that he can play a villain extremely well, something he’s never done in his career. 


The stunt choreography is also some of Marvel’s finest. It feels very reminiscent of Hong Kong action flicks by John Woo or the Jackie Chan Police Story films. All the fights are energetic and fast-paced. The punches seem to move at light speed and feel like a dance with smooth choreography. Other than some bloated parts at the end of the third act, this film is also incredibly paced. The ending took big risks and felt unlike anything Marvel had done yet with its creative implementation of Asian culture through the use of giant CGI dragons. 


Of course, this film isn’t perfect. The overuse of CGI causes a sense of blandness and the film lacks a visual identity to separate it from other Marvel movies. The cold open is also a bit silly. Still, Shang-Chi is nowhere near a misstep in Marvel’s gargantuan series of superhero films.