Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings ★★★★★

Quick thoughts:

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a martial arts superhero film set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton and co-written by Daniel Cretton, Dave Callaham and Andrew Lanham, stars Simu Liu as the titular martial-arts master Shang-Chi, who must confront the past he thought he left behind when he's drawn into the web of the mysterious Ten Rings organization. Not since the first Guardians Galaxy have I entered an MCU installment with this little knowledge of the source material, and whether or not that impacted my enjoyment of the film remains to be seen. That being said, I loved it about as much as I would enjoy a 5-star Chinese restaurant in New York: it may not be authentic, but it's about as close to the real thing that an American filmmaker has gotten in recent years. For starters, it helps that Feige hired an Asian-American director to helm the film. And for his first action blockbuster, I thought Daniel Cretton did a fantastic job, and the second unit team led by Bradley James Allan gave us some of the best fight sequences in the entire MCU! But I don't think the fights are the reason why Daniel Cretton was hired, because at the heart of this film is a story about family, the sins of the past, and how one shapes their own destiny. Say what you will about Simu Liu as both an actor and a "Twitter celebrity," but he gave exactly what was needed for this role, both the physicality and the screen presence of a reluctant hero running from his past. Though, much like the first Ant-Man, it's actually his sister Xialing, played by a newcomer Meng'er Zhang, who upstages the central protagonist and instantly became my favorite character in the film. There are certain things I can't and won't spoil here, whether that's characters who make an appearance or a third act that I was not necessarily expecting, but I promise you it's worth it to experience all this for yourself. Your mileage may very when it comes to the humor. Personally, most of it stuck the landing, while some jokes overstayed their welcome. Overall, I'd consider this a top shelf solo film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I'm excited for what lies ahead for these characters!