Shang-Chi movie review: Marvel goes fantasy

Shang-Chi movie review: Marvel goes fantasy

Shang-Chi movie review

After our last trip into the past with "Black Widow", Marvel's most recent prank "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" plays again after the events of "Avengers: Endgame". Or at least partially. The film begins with a flashback that throws us back a few centuries to the Chinese Empire.

There we learn the story of Wenwu (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai), a conqueror and bearer of ten magic rings who give him immortality and great power. For over 1000 years he has created a network of assassins who carry out missions around the world and thus influence the course of history. In search of a legendary village in the middle of a magical forest, in the 1990s he met the martial arts master Jiang-Li (Fala Chen), who comes from the village and has great strength. The two fall in love and ultimately father Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) and his sister Xialing (Meng'er Zhang). Movie review of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: Marvel goes fantasy (5) Source: Marvel Studios

In the current time, Shang-Chi has long since left his parents' house. After the death of his mother, he fled from his tyrannical father. Since then he has been working as a parker in front of a hotel in San Francisco and lives an aimless and fun life together with his best friend Katy (Awkwafina). Only when he received a postcard from his sister and shortly afterwards was haunted by his father's henchmen did he decide to face his past once and for all ...

Partial Arts

"Shang-Chi" was announced by lead actor Simu Liu as a historic moment in the Marvel Universe. And in fact, apart from the novelty of a largely Asian cast, the film introduces tons of new elements that have never been seen in a Marvel Studios film. In the action scenes, for example, director Cretton relies on hand-made, neatly choreographed martial arts fights, which in their best moments are reminiscent of wuxia films such as "House of Flying Daggers" or "Tiger and Dragon". This ensures that many fights actually stand out from the MCU monotony and - at least in the case of a fight between Wenwu and his future wife - also tell their own story and express emotions. Film review for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: Marvel goes fantasy (3) Source: Marvel Studios

Nevertheless, many of the arguments, as in "Black Widow", are enhanced with eye-catching CGI effects, which unfortunately makes them lose a lot of their original fascination. While the underlying technique and stunt work is impressive, the obvious use of computer technology often destroys the illusion that this is an impressive display of precision and timing by making what is shown seem like a cheap sleight of hand.

That the main characters are pretty much invulnerable in all fights is already a tradition in the MCU, but the opponents in "Shang-Chi" seem particularly incompetent. When the hero fights dozens of ninjas on scaffolding, always keeping an overview and swinging effortlessly on the bars as if he were Spider-Man, one feels more reminiscent of a video game than a kung-fu movie. This impression is reinforced by the fact that even a character like Katy, who has no training or background in martial arts, seems to have little problem coping with the dangers that stand in her way. At one point the young slacker dangles over an abyss and threatens to plunge into her death. Due to the fact that a large part of the scene comes from the computer, the threat never appears tangible or real. Film review of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: Marvel goes fantasy (4) Source: Marvel Studios

No end to the flashback

In the second half, "Shang- Chi "then completely into the fantasy genre. Mythical creatures and new monster creations appear here, forests and waters develop a life of their own and the fate of the entire world is at stake. This complete drifting into the fantastic is actually only known from the MCU from the "Thor" films and, to a lesser extent, from "Doctor Strange". Instead of parallel universes, strange worlds and planets, however, in "Shang-Chi" we visit ancient earthly places that seem untouched by time.

Who fears that the focus on the past and mystical legends means that the audience has to endure numerous chunks of explanations, should be proved right. "Shang-Chi" consists largely of flashbacks and explanatory dialogues that delve deeper into the characters' origin stories. Even in the last third of the film, director Cretton often cuts back into his hero's childhood to explain further connections.


Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings: First trailer for the new Marvel film loadVideoPlayer ('83732', '& sAdSetCsategory = article_featured', 12, '16: 9 ', false, 1378399, false, 277800, 260, false, 0,' ',' ', false); Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Above all, the two main female characters are painfully undersupplied. Although Shang-Chi's sister has a shared past with her father and brother, her emotions are largely ignored and left out during the showdown between family members. Sidekick Katy, on the other hand, as a 30-year-old Californian, has absolutely no relation to the central story. Your inner change is ultimately motivated by the fact that a complete stranger recommends a piece of wisdom to you that could also be found in a fortune cookie or an esoteric Instagram post.

In general, many interactions between the characters seem stiff and forced. For example, two scenes in which heroes get to know each other for the first time contain the words "I'm a big fan", although both times this reaction makes little sense and is not particularly funny in the context either. Movie review of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: Marvel goes fantasy (1) Source: Marvel Studios

The Lord of the Rings

The lion's share of the scenes go next to the main character, who embodies Simu Liu with a lot of natural charisma, to Tony Leungs Wenwu. The Hong Kong screen legend ("In the Mood for Love", "Bullet in the Head") then promptly delivers one of the strongest performances of a villain in the MCU. At least whenever he doesn't have to explain anything to the audience, but can simply convey his feelings through an expression on his face.

Although his character is quite a one-dimensional tyrant (and typically another terrible one at Marvel) Father), Leung transports so much pain and determination in his sad doggy look that one wishes the film contained more classic drama and less unnecessarily formulated worldbuilding. That his personal story is buried in the last act of the Marvel-typical bombast finale is all the more annoying. Movie review of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: Marvel turns fantasy (7) Source: Marvel Studios

The supporting characters, including Michelle Yeoh as Shang-Chi's aunt and Florian Munteanu as the henchman Razor Fist, are hardly worth mentioning. While Razor Fist receives at least a hint of a personality in some scenes, Yeoh plays her role as a stoic warrior routinely on autopilot. Only one MCU returnees who is not revealed at this point manages to steal all the scenes and leave an impression, even with a small role To associate films with the larger MCU.

Good ingredients, stale presentation

Apart from the already mentioned eye-catching CGI, "Shang-Chi" also offers some technical delicacies. The camera work is surprisingly varied, the action scenes are clearly laid out, the costumes and backdrops are a feast for the eyes, the music is appropriate and the representation of the magical elements is visually playful and rarely overloaded with effects. Only in the finale is there the obligatory sprawling CGI battle that we are used to from other Marvel films. Film review of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: Marvel goes fantasy (2) Source: Marvel Studios

Despite a lot of personal flair and a strong and well-known cast, "Shang-Chi" counts as a solo film the mediocre offshoots of the franchise, which is mainly due to the excessive use of flashbacks and the formulaic figures. All moments that suggest more depth or interesting character developments will probably only be taken up in a future film. What remains is a solid Origin story, which in the end lacks an emotional response.

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