As someone who collected comics as a kid, I definitely remember Shang-Chi. He would occasionally show up in one of the titles I was a fan of only to disappear by the end of that story. He was definitely one of Marvel’s lower tiered heroes. But, that’s about to change with the release of the super fun, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
When we first meet Shaun (Simu Liu), he’s in full on slacker mode: working as a valet with his best friend, Katy (Awkwafina), during the day and hanging out, drinking and singing karaoke at night. The guy seemingly doesn’t have a care in the world. Then a band of goons has to go and break up all that slacker-ness.
The two are headed home when, out of nowhere, said goons attack Shaun. The fight (a cross between The Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) takes place all on a moving bus and it’ll probably be one of the best action sequences you’ll see this year. Shaun kicks some major butt, which only leads to questions – a ton of questions – from Katy, who’s been led to believe that he’s just a regular mild-mannered guy.
Welp, sit down, Katy. Turns out Shaun is really named Shang, which he changed (Awkwafina has a really funny joke about this). He changed it when he moved to America to get away from his father (Tony Leung) – who happens to be an ancient warrior who wields ten powerful rings (they’re really bracelets, but whatevs) – after his mother died. He soon gets word that his sister, who he hasn’t talked with since he left, is in trouble and off he goes. But not before Katy muscles her way into the adventure.
Once they reunite, they find out that their father has been led to believe that his mother is alive and being held captive where she grew up, a mystical world that’s almost impossible to get to. Unless you have help. And help they find with… well, that would give it away. But it is a fun call back to an earlier Marvel film.
As their father closes in on them, he threatens to unleash a force that could (what else?) destroy the world and Shang soon realizes that he needs to fulfill his potential and become the hero that he knows he can be.
Liu was a wonderful choice for Shang-Chi/Shaun. He’s got that “every man” sort of quality to him, where we can feel us through him: “How would I react if this were happening to me?” I honestly can’t wait to see where he and his character goes in future Marvel films.
Awkwafina is equally good, but I’m not quite sure why her character is even in the film. She’s funny and once we get into the mystical aspects, she’s our ticket into it but by the end of the film, she’s almost treated as an equal to Shang-Chi. Her character has no powers, no real skills yet she’s been put there as his counterpart. It’s just an odd choice.
Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, the film starts off a bit slow quite honestly, but after that first action sequence on the bus – Boom! – the film is off and running. The big set pieces are really great and jammed with loads of fast-paced action and effects and he keeps the pace whip fast for the rest of the movie.