Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings ***1/2
One Liner Review:
A wild ride of a fantasy-adventure movie, complete with great martial arts set pieces and some fantastic creatures.
Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a great movie. It’s Marvel taking a chance once again, trying something different, and seeing how far their reach can go. It’s so funny how angry filmmakers and bitter people who aren’t into these kinds of movies try to say that they are all the same. It’s one thing to not like super hero movies, and for that to just not be your bag. And that’s totally fine. But these movies are far from all the same, between the wild characters and space adventures in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies to the more believable and grounded films of Iron Man and Captain America. Shang Chi goes in a whole new direction. This one goes the way of Hong King martial arts. It goes for a Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon approach, or more accurately Hero and The House of Flying Daggers. And it pulls this off.
Shang-Chi is the first major Asian superhero to grace the silver screen (unless you’re counting Kato, as the sidekick of the Green Hornet.) Considering the market in China (where, ironically, this movie has still yet to open, due to Covid,) it’s surprising that this hasn’t been done earlier. But Marvel is always on the edge, pushing the boundaries, and stepping it up. They are always taking chances and paving the way. Yes, DC featured a female led superhero movie first with Wonder Woman, but Marvel came right back with Captain Marvel and then Black Widow.
So now let’s talk about Shang-Chi, or more accurately Shangp-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (there are definitely going to be sequels, and each one will most likely have a different subtitle. This movie is about a twenty-something year old Chinese American guy who lives in San Francisco, works as a car vallet driver, and thinks he has it all figured out. Shang-Chi (who goes by Sean in these early scenes,) and his best friend, Katy (played by Akwafina,) are content to just park cars during the day and go sing karioke at night. And they hear it from all sides about how both of them are not living up to their potential, or doing anything to actually better themselves. Both of them get it from a friend of theirs, when they go out to dinner with her and her husband, and then also from Katy’s family, when Shang-Chi goes to pick her up for work.
And then we get the bus scene. The two of them are riding the bus to work when Shang-Chi gets attacked. A couple of thugs come up and ask for the pendant that hangs around his neck. Shang-Chi refuses and when Katie speaks up, one of the thugs grabs her face and throws her. That’s all it takes for Shang-Chi to let loose and kick some serious butt. And this guy goes all out on the stunts, moving in and out of things on the bus like you would expect from Jackie Chan. He bounces off the sides of the bus, swings through poles, and at one point even gets on the roof. This happens to be the absolute best action scene in the movie, and so it’s a shame that it’s also the first one. But boy is this stuff good. We’re talking about wire work and really using the setting in every way possible. One of the best moments during the sequence comes when the camera is outside the bus, tracking past the side of the bus, while we watch the fight happening through the windows. This tracking is pretty incredible, and makes the bus layout seem like different tiers or layers.
Ben Kingsley’s appearance.
The secret village
the dragon on dragon end