Please be aware, if it wasn’t obvious enough, this review does contain spoilers. If you don’t want the movie to be spoiled we would advise you to exit from the website/article.
Shang-Chi was honestly a movie I did not care for at all when it was first announced. The movie follows Shang-Chi, the main character. He moves on from a life in the Ten Rings Army after his mother is killed by a gang seeking revenge for something his father did when wielding the Ten Rings. Shang-Chi has been trained by his father to be a deadly assassin and these are skills that will come in handy.
After living a normal life for 10 years, his father seeks him out, as he believes his wife is trapped and not actually dead.
As mentioned above, this wasn’t a movie I cared for in the slightest. I was one of them that had zero interest. I read comics, Wikipedia profiles, Reddit posts to try and get some insight into who this random guy is. The trailers dropped, and whilst my interest did peak a little, it ultimately never did a lot for me. The only thing that excited me about this movie was that I could finally go to the cinema to watch a movie, as the last movie I watched there was Rise of Skywalker.
I can safely and honestly say, I was surprised. This movie blew me away from the first minute. When the reviews started popping out, and these were glowing. Every reviewer was dragging out top scores, I can see why now. Shang-Chi and the surrounding cast have a huge future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Another huge praise I see fairly often is the fighting. This movie has been called one of the best martial arts experiences, and I have to agree. The way in which Simu Liu brings Shang-Chi to life in his ability to fight is exceptional, perfect, and I just want more from him.
This was a risky move by Disney and Marvel, but I think this is where we sometimes underestimate Marvel’s ability to make a solid movie. Of course, they’ve made some less than perfect movies but this isn’t one of those times. They brought a character who a lot of us had never even heard of, to giving him one of the best solo movies in superhero history. Not to mention there was a number of scenes that were in a different language, but for me, that added just so much more to the movie on all fronts.
Although the movie was filled with incredible action scenes, it also had the humor we’re used to with MCU movies now. In the cinema, there were multiple scenes throughout that had a lot of us laughing, and I think that always adds to the movie when they can add humor in, despite the world being at risk. On the odd occasion the humor can sometimes feel a little forced, but this never, Katy (Awkwafina) did a great job with this. I’ll add more to this later.
All in all, in an overall aspect, the movie was perfect. As soon as the two end-credits scenes finished, I actually asked my wife if we could go and book tickets to the next showing which was in 15 minutes. If it wasn’t for the fact we had a babysitter for our 2-year-old son, I would have in the blink of an eye. That’s how good I thought it was.
The story focuses on Xu Wenwu’s Ten Rings which grant him incredible power, from using the rings as weapons, to eternal life. After seeking power for years, he stumbles across his match. Leiko Wu defeats him in battle as she has the power of the dragon, but they connect during their fight. They get married, have 2 children in Shang-Chi and Xialing. Leiko is killed by a gang, Shang-Chi is trained relentlessly by his father, and Xialing is left out so she trains herself. After they live normal lives for 10 years, Xu hunts them down because he’s hearing his wife call to him from the dead. After he asks his children for help, they decline but go themselves so he doesn’t burn the village down. This is where they find out the truths, and learn new ways in order to fight against the deadly flying soul-sucking creatures that Xu releases. Shang-Chi learns to control the Ten Rings after his father is killed, and we get to see so much come from that.
That’s the overview, obviously, things happen in between all that which adds that immersive aspect to the story. Destin Daniel Cretton has done a wonderful job in attaching the story together in a way that makes sense. You weren’t lost or confused at any point, and it flowed well from beginning to end.
To jump straight off the bat, there wasn’t a single character I didn’t like during the movie, which always adds a positive to the movie and it doesn’t happen all that often. Every character smashed their role. There is however a couple of shoutouts I would like to add to this.
Simu Liu who played Shang-Chi as mentioned above brought this character to life on the big screen. When I think of the character now going forward, he IS Shang-Chi, and I honestly believe nobody could have played the role better than he did.
Next up is Awkwafina who played Katy. Usually, in these types of movies, you expect these types of characters to be frustratingly annoying, but she wasn’t. Katy brought the humor into the fold but always added the serious element in order to help Shang-Chi. I am excited to see her in the future of the MCU.
Another shoutout goes to Tony Chiu-Wai Leung who played Xu Wenwu. Every single time he used the Ten Rings, I sat in awe at just how well the actor controlled them, and the way he fought whilst doing so. Not to mention he was an incredible villain/redeemed hero at the end. Bravo.
Finally, Meng’er Zhang as Xialing who was Shang-Chi’s sister. Her ability to control the wired knife, very similar to how Scorpion fights in Mortal Kombat were beautiful. It was truly beautiful. She added more to the unique fighting styles that immersed us into the movie a little bit more. Plus, she had a deep back story that we did sympathize with too.
Those are my shoutouts but I cannot take anything away from the characters or actors. Even bringing Trevor back to redeem himself after the shocking Iron Man 3. It was a truly fantastic cast.
I also appreciate Wong so much more after this movie as well.
For the full cast list, you can visit IMDB by clicking here.
I think even despite a lot of us not having a clue about Shang-Chi, the movie gained further hype due to the fact we never saw a single MCU project in 2020, and with this delayed multiple times kind of added that to it. I think this lived up to the hype and beyond it, if I’m honest.
After the Spider-Man trailer, I saw a lot of people putting this at the back, but I think this will be a movie that has to be in contention with movie of the year at the end of the year. It’s very difficult to ignore the existence of one of the best fighting movies to ever exist.
5 Favorite Moments
1. Let’s take a moment to talk about that bus scene! Honestly, I thought they may have been going down the route of him not remembering for whatever reason that he had this power, this strength. But that was very quickly turned around when Shang pulled a complete fast one on us and used his skills to take down his Fathers assassins. The scene had so much going for it, not just the action but the comedy as well mainly coming from Katy. Having to process what your best friend is doing back there, while also remaining calm and collected would be tough you have to admit! But when she took control of the bus, causing a lot of damage I might add, it just made it the perfect scene. Her witty banter throughout this had the audience at the cinema laughing in their seats. Brilliant acting from all those involved and well played to the writers for coming up with such a brutal yet hilarious scene!
2. Now let’s talk about the scene on the roof. Katy is struggling to get across scaffolding on a super high skyscraper, with assassins hunting them down and only Shang-Chi is there to fight them off. They obviously struggle, and Katy almost dies until Xialing comes out of nowhere to save her, and helps Shang-Chi fight them off. The entire fighting in this scene is what we talk about when it comes to the fighting being superb. An excellent scene all around.
3. I want to take a moment to appreciate ALL of the flashback scenes in the movie. I sometimes hate it when a movie is so centered around flashbacks to make a point, but this didn’t. You already fell in love with the cast prior to understanding what was even going on. It explained how everything came to be in such a brilliant way, even to the point we got to see why Xu was the way he was, and why he became the way he did after his wife was killed. The best flashback was after his mother was killed, Xu takes Shang-Chi to the gang’s hideout and just brutally destroys them all one by one using the Ten Rings. Just amazing.
4. This entire movie I was sitting there a little frustrated wondering if his dad was good or bad.. then I realized that’s the point. He’s done bad things but his love for his family was his good place, his safe place. The actor Tony Leung Chiu-wai played this very well. But I have to touch on the heartwarming scene nearer the end of the movie between Shang and his Father. The guy is so stricken by grief he’s willing to destroy everything in order for his wife to return. The moment he realized his actions wouldn’t bring her back was truly heartbreaking for us to watch as he realized what he’s done. He sacrifices himself for his children so that Shang can take control of the Ten Rings and right his father’s wrongs. A brilliant scene by Simu Liu and Tony Leung Chiu-wai.
5. A question I was asked a while ago was, “do you think Shang-Chi can truly be a sustainable character in the MCU?” At the end of the movie, Katy and Shang-Chi are explaining their adventure to their friends who we see earlier in the movie, obviously, they’re just staring in disbelief, then Wong shows up and opens a portal and asks them to go with him. In the after-credit scenes, Bruce Banner (not Professor Hulk) and Captain Marvel are standing there, all 3 of them are trying to decipher where the Rings came from and what they actually are. This adds another mystery element to the power, because a sorcerer, a Doctor, and an alien couldn’t even figure it out. It was great to see the two back as well.
There wasn’t a single thing I disliked about this movie. Even the after-credit scenes were interesting.
Absolutely. This is a movie that you should go and watch at your earliest opportunity. The movie is available in cinemas worldwide (unless closed due to COVID), I definitely think if you haven’t watched it, you should look at booking tickets ASAP.
A perfect solo movie, and a fantastic way to introduce us to a character that many have never heard of before. It had humor, action, emotion, and many other incredible traits. It’s a movie I’m dying to see again, and hopefully will again in the coming weeks.