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A NEW FUN MARVEL HERO
23 September 2021 Posted by 

A NEW FUN MARVEL HERO

Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings - 4 Stars
A NEW phase for the Marvel Cinematic Universe is heralded by a fun new hero, a strong villain, an exciting film and a hell of a lot of cool action.
 
Shaun (Simu Liu) and Katy (Awkwafina) are valets in San Francisco, but their normal life is interrupted when Shaun is attacked on the bus by a group of assassins on the hunt for his pendant. Katy is stunned to discover that Shaun is actually Shang-Chi, the son of Xu Wenwu (Tony Leung) - a 1000 year old power broker, who runs a nefarious organisation with the help of ten magical rings that give him both immortality and unique powers. 
 
Shang-Chi, trained to be an assassin by his father after his mother died when he was seven years old, hasn’t seen his family in years after running away at age 14. But the assassins arrival indicates that his father is on his path, and when he finds out he is also gunning for his sister Xialing (Meng’er Zhang), Shang-Chi and Katy travel to Asia to track her down and protect her - only to discover that Wenwu’s plans are much more dangerous and destructive than they ever thought. 
 
As the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film with an Asian-American lead, Shang Chi is a really exciting piece of cinema that is well acted, serviced by the casting and the scripting. Simu Liu, who campaigned very publicly for the role, is magnetic as Shang-Chi, and solidly defines himself as an ‘above the marquee’ title star. Awkwafina is hilarious as Katy, and her performance (along with the strong script writing in her department). 
 
Perhaps the most impressive performance on display though is in the villain department. Many of the MCU films have been criticised for middling antagonists, but Tony Leung, who is an incredibly well-known thespian in Asia, tackles the role with aplomb, creating a lasting legacy as the real Mandarin that is impressive and constantly engaging. 
 
The script gives these actors plenty of moments to flesh out the actual emotionality of the story and bring real pathos to some of the action scenes. 
 
But it’s not all talk - Shang Chi also brings the action, in new and exciting ways when compared with the rest of the MCU ilk. There’s a hell of a lot of incredible kung-fu style action on display here, and it feels new and refreshing in a franchise that too often deals with CGI monsters fighting CGI heroes. It’s great to be able to see some exciting stunt work on display. 
 
The visuals also complement the action. The set decoration, the costuming, and even the CGI is fresh and vibrant, with a mix of exciting colours and patterns, as well as some whimsical and amazing creatures. It’s a beautiful film to watch, and that sucks you into this world all the more. 
 
Faults only appear in terms of the story and the structure. For a franchise that is moving towards the exciting possibilities offered by the multiverse, there are elements of this film that seem played out - there’s a lot of Thor’s DNA here for example. 
Then again, there’s something nice about the comfort of seeing a story we love told again well, and with diverse new faces.
 
Shang-Chi is a welcome big screen gem from Marvel, that will breed excitement for where the MCU goes post-Avengers.
 
Review by Jacob Richardson Creative Director | Film Focus www.filmfocusau.com
 


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Michael Walls
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