Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings movie reviewExplained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Genre comics, action
Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton
Cast: Simu Liu (Shang-Chi), Tony Leung (Wenwu), Aquafina (Kathy), Michelle Yeoh (Jiang Nan), Meng’er Zhang (Xialing), Fala Chen (Jiang Li), Benedict Wong (Wong) and others.
Студии Walt Disney Pictures, Marvel Studios, Fox Studios Australia
Release year 2021
Site IMDb

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has always had enough epic battles, so it’s getting harder and harder to surprise fans of the franchise with a new portion of action, especially after the final battle of the Avengers. So Kevin Feige (producer and head of Marvel Studios) chose a different path, turning to martial arts and reimagining the Hong Kong action classics. So there was a solo film about kung fu master Shang-Chi, a character who first appeared on the pages of comics in 1973.

The film was directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, an American-Hawaiian director who directed the legal drama Just Mercy. The main character was played by Simu Liu, a Canadian actor of Chinese descent, who mainly starred in fantasy series and television sitcoms (he is known in Canada thanks to the long-running comedy Kim’s Convenience). If a little-known actor, who will probably still become famous in the image of a superhero, was prudently invited to the leading role, then cult Asian artists, who have long been known to the whole world, were offered secondary roles. These are Tony Leung (In the Mood for Love; Infernal Affairs; The Grandmaster) and Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon).

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Simu Liu plays a guy who calls himself Sean. He, along with his best friend Katie (actress Awkwafina), works as an ordinary parking attendant in San Francisco. The young man does not make big plans for the future and does not plan to change anything, but a big upheaval occurs in his life when a gang of mercenaries appears in front of Sean. Having managed to fight back the thugs, the hero realizes that the bandits were sent by his own father – a powerful warrior who has magical powers and leads the Ten Rings organization.

By the way, Marvel fans have already met the mention of the “Ten Rings” in other films. For the first time, an organization with a logo that displays its name flickers near the terrorists who take Tony Stark prisoner (this happens in Iron Man 2008). Later, the Ten Rings logo appears again – already in the third solo film about Iron Man, released in 2013. Then the leader of the organization, who threatened the President of the United States and called himself the Mandarin, turned out to be just a hired actor. (Perhaps this particular episode is worth brushing up on before watching the new movie.)

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As usual, Kevin Feige has made sure that all the films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe are linked. But apart from a little garter from the past, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings becomes an independent, fresh and very beautiful story that opens up a whole new world.

Since the film is about martial arts, Bradley Allan, a famous stunt coordinator and member of Jackie Chan’s stunt team, was attached to the shooting (Allan died in the summer of 2021 without seeing Shang-Chi on the big screens). He created dynamic action scenes that are incredibly exciting in any location – whether it’s a cramped bus stuffed with frightened passengers and aggressive mercenaries, the top of a skyscraper, or a magical village hiding behind a bamboo forest.

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Unlike other action films, where fights quite often turn into chaos, special attention is paid to the choreography of movements, so literally every detail is worked out in hand-to-hand fights between actor Simu Liu and stuntmen. Shang-Chi’s character demonstrates different fighting techniques, learning new skills and recreating the best elements from old Hong Kong films.

Also, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings pays homage to the Chinese wuxia genre, which combines fantasy with a demonstration of various martial arts. Probably one of the film’s most memorable moments is the introduction and fight scene among the trees, which features Tony Leung. This is an extremely elegant, beautiful and poetic battle, which reveals the nascent feeling of sympathy much better than any eloquent confessions.

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It is impossible not to notice the cinematography, which captures the splendor of fluid movements, sliding right next to the main characters, frozen for a brief moment. Here it is worth mentioning the creator of such spectacular shots – this is director of photography Bill Pope (he worked on The Matrix trilogy). It is not surprising that it was he who managed to show harmony in the battle of two opponents, as well as to cover events on a larger scale, in which more computer graphics appear (which, by the way, resembles scenes from fantasy magical paintings).

Of course, Marvel is worried that the superhero solo movie will be not only exciting for the audience, but also funny. The actress Aquafina is responsible for this in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, who relieves the situation in every possible way – most likely, not everyone will like her pieces, but in general they are unlikely to spoil the impression of the film. What the writers do best is an antagonist story that doesn’t feel simplistic or underdeveloped (like the villain in Black Widow did). The hero demonstrates different feelings and, thanks to the acting charm of Tony Leung, does not become an unambiguously negative villain.

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It appears that Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings had a rather modest promotional campaign compared to other Marvel films. However, this does not mean that the solo movie about the new superhero deserves less attention. On the contrary, the story of a hero who knows kung fu, and also faces ancient magic and problems within his family, will prove to be a breath of fresh air in a universe where heroes have become oversaturated with the organized salvation of mankind.

Yes, and one more thing. The traditional post-credits scenes will also be here this time (as many as two), as well as small surprises for fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Pros: interesting story of a new hero; antagonist played by Tony Leung; elements of Hong Kong action films and the wuxia genre; stunt choreography; cinematography Cons: perhaps Aquafina’s humor will not appeal to everyone Conclusion:

“Shan-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” becomes in many ways an independent, fresh and very beautiful story in its own way, opening up a whole new side of the Marvel Universe.

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