“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, is the first Asian-centered superhero film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Given this, as well as a majority Asian cast, it is drastically and culturally different from any other MCU work. Yes, there are still tense and amazing fighting scenes with great choreography and yes, there are still eye-catching costumes and breathtaking landscapes, but this film is not centered around a white man and his white friends. Simu Liu, the talented actor who plays Shang-Chi, and the hilarious Awkwafina, who plays his character’s best friend Katy, make an incredible duo in helping the audience experience the new heroes and places the MCU introduces. Alongside the help of the other characters, the film introduces Asian traditions and languages that were never shown in other MCU films.
Throughout the film, the audience is shown a type of fighting that is rarely shown in other MCU films: martial arts. This movie does a great job at infusing martial arts, street fighting, beauty and elegance into the choreography which makes this film seem up-to-date and unique. Renowned actors Michelle Yeoh, who plays Jiang Nan, and Tony Leung Chiu-wai, who plays Wenwu, are both known for their martial arts fighting in past films. Another thing that helped this movie feel fresh was the comedic and vibrant relationship between Shang-Chi and Katy. Similar to Paul Rudd’s “Ant-Man,” the duo’s goofy and tight friendship helps counteract the seriousness and tenseness of the movie, but they also understand when to calm down and be mature.
Something that should be highly rated is the fight scenes of this film. There are intense scenes where you are placed at the edge of your seat and there are other scenes where you are in awe of the magical work of CGI. Throughout the entire film, the audience witnesses different fighting styles, different and unexpected fighting locations and more. Not only are there elaborate hand-to-hand fight scenes, but there are also fight scenes featuring unfamiliar yet powerful weapons like the 10 rings, scenes occurring in death-defying locations and other scenes infused with hilarious moments in the midst of tension. Besides the fighting, there are action-packed scenes that will get your heart racing and palms sweaty.
This film was a great release after “Black Widow,” which had more of an urgent and stern feel to it. After knowing about Natasha Romanoff’s death and watching her solo film, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” introduces the audience to a film that doesn’t focus on death and destruction, but instead paves the path for an entirely new era and the marvelous heroes of the MCU. Though the MCU is known for interweaving stories and referencing other films in each new release, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” did not have many references. Typically, names such as Thanos and Tony Stark are brought up and dwelt upon, but in this film, the Blip is casually mentioned and that is it. There is no hindrance on past events and well-known names are not mentioned, which helps this film feel even fresher, like a brand-new start.
Overall, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is a great beginning to a long-awaited new phase in the MCU. Mixed with Asian traditions, including the fusion of martial arts, this film does a great job at introducing the MCU to a diverse, comforting new hero. Along with the post-credit scenes, this film sets up a new generation of future heroes that will capture the hearts and minds of Marvel fans.