Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is an intriguing blowout for Marvel fans.
This project has been in development for almost twenty years with no clear announcements being made whether or not the film will be green-lighted. That is, until sometime in the late 2010s when Destin Daniel Cretton and screenwriter Dave Callaham were hired to direct and write this film, the production was officially being announced. Having been directed by Cretton himself, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings marks the first MCU film to feature an all Asian cast, consisting with Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Meng'er Zhang, Fala Chen, Florian Munteanu, Benedict Wong, Michelle Yeoh, and Tony Leung.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings takes place after Avengers: Endgame and follows the story of a martial artist Shang-Chi who is summoned to join what-is-called “The Ten Rings'' organization. While doing so, however, Shang-Chi, while being the master of martial arts, is forced to confront his past he left behind after being drafted to the Ten Rings organization.
The main director and author of this film is Destin Daniel Cretton. He has been known for making films that feature Brie Larson in the house, which builds up her acting career on several future films, including MCU’s Captain Marvel, released back in 2019. He recently directed Just Mercy, featuring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx. As director, Cretton follows other MCU directors’ footsteps to film and capture the enduring focal attention on Liu’s character, mimicking the basics of how Jon Faverau did on Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man. The action sequences are very spontaneous, which made the film’s climaxes really smooth to follow. The filming crew really took a lot of dedication, effort, and hard work to craft such a beautiful artistry on not only the action sequences, but also the emotional-moving characters, the settings, and the heartfelt storytelling, which all of them became anonymous from head to toe.
Simu Liu (CBC’s Kim’s Convenience) portrays his titular role as Shang-Chi, a martial artist who joins the Ten Rings organization while Awkwafina (The Farewell) joins Liu as Shang-Chi’s friend Katy. Liu is very solid when he takes his action star role precisely well and so does Awkwafina. Their friendship just keeps on growing and never ends. Both of them knew what to do and knew what was going on for the film’s structural components.
Featuring in the film are supporting actors Meng'er Zhang, Fala Chen, Florian Munteanu, Michelle Yeoh, and Tony Leung. They portrayed Xialing, Jiang Li, Razor Fist, Jiang Num, and Wenwu/The Mandarin, Shang-Chi’s father and the Ten Rings leader. Just letting the viewers know this is Michelle Yeoh's second MCU film after previously appearing in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as Aleta Ogord. And lastly, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings serves as actress Fala Chen’s first acting debut in a Hollywood film.
Let’s not forget, a small number of MCU actors return to this film to reprise their roles from their previous MCU films. Tim Roth appears as Emil Blonsky/Abomination from 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, Benedict Wong as Mystic Arts master Wong from Doctor Strange and Avengers: Infinity War, and Ben Kingsley as Trevor Slattery from Iron Man 3.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a great Marvel flick, maybe not a fast-paced event to say the least with all the visuals and the CGI in the way, but it still captures its endurance and intriguing moments from start to finish. Like the previously-released MCU film Black Widow, one can actually discover in the past to see what is right and what is wrong. The director, Liu, Awkwafina, and the cast did an astounding job on picking up the pace. This 132-minute film is worth the wait and is highly a must. So go ahead and watch this in theaters, at my behest.
(Review by Henry Pham)