Jarrel Montes’s review published on Letterboxd:
The prodigal son returns to kick ass
The MCU further expands its universe to the mystical martial arts, a combination of magic and kung fu that we've seen many times before, but this time it's represented within a world of superheroes. Does not feel like an MCU film, sets itself apart with distinct visuals, incredible fight choreography, and of course wonderful Asian cultures. The theme of family has been apparent with movies this year, this time it follows the old tale of the prodigal son, and with a strong actor as the father (Tony Leung) it no doubt gave that emotional impact it promised to give. Tony is one of the GOATS in HK cinema, which justifiably made his performance the best one out of the rest, and I'm glad his character was fleshed out enough to make him a formidable "villain". Shang-Chi on the other hand felt a bit too vanilla for my taste, Simu did a great job at playing the character but he still lacked a bit more charm, but I'm sure he still has some more growing to do in this saga. I loved all the fight scenes, all the mystical weapons and exaggerated combat opened up more possibilities for future MCU craziness, I'm more excited to see Shang-Chi's involvement with the other heroes than his own story tbh.
The soundtrack was great, a mix of western and eastern vibes which correlates the Asian-American element of the narrative. It's fitting to put the plot with ancestral burden when it's something a lot of Asian Americans go through from their parents lol. The dialogue was sort of all over the place, the sincere moments hit but I can't say the same about the jokes, some of them felt out of place but I did enjoy Trevor's stupidity. The final act was a bit messy in terms of pacing and logic, it got really predictable near the end and the chosen one trope just oozed cheese. I do like the designs of the ten rings, it's super powerful but not on a world ending level, and it's not like Shang-Chi is depends on it, he can clearly kick ass with or without the rings. I also like the direction they're taking further down the line, I'm still trying to figure out how Shang-Chi plays a part in it but that ending scene definitely raised some questions.
Overall this was a fun watch, a very solid standalone MCU movie that separates itself from the rest, it delivers on the mystical kung fu it promises and introduces a very unique addition to this saga's superhero roster.