Shang-Chi: Predictable, but Pleasant

Poster: Disney

Poster: Disney

Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings is the latest blockbuster in the Marvel catalog. While this movie was delayed several times, it was highly anticipated due to its impressive action choreography and its representation of the Asian-American community. However, is this movie just another big-budget superhero movie, or is it worth watching?

Shang-Chi is a mixture of Hong-Kong style martial arts and the CGI-filled cinematic flair of a Marvel movie. It follows a man named Shang-Chi who has been living in San Francisco to escape his father, who just so happens to be The Mandarin, the leader of a fictional terrorist organization called the Ten Rings (the same group that kidnapped Tony Stark in the movie Iron Man). However, his father has just found out his whereabouts, and has big plans for his son. From there, the movie becomes a high-stakes origin story. It stars Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Tony Leung, Meng’er Zhang, and it’s directed by Destin Cretton.

The thing that sets this movie apart from other Marvel movies is the fight chroeography. A lot of action movies do this thing where they shake the camera and cut to different angles every couple seconds. This is probably to give off the impression that there is more action in a scene than there actually is, or even to hide bad acting. This movie has none of that. I was impressed at how clean and focused the visuals were even in a busy fight scene. The reason why these aspects of the movie are so good is because of the big names who worked on it. For example, Bill Pope, the cinematographer who worked on The Matrix, and Brad Allan, the fight choreographer who did several classic Jackie Chan movies both worked on Shang-Chi. Another thing I enjoyed was how fleshed out the characters were, and how they struggle with issues that mirror those of real immigrants, like being caught between two cultures.

While this film is much stronger than most Marvel movies, it still follows the same formula. For example, there’s a serious scene which gets undercut by a cheap joke, and the movie ends with an expensive looking CGI battle, just like the ones in movies like Black Panther and Avengers: Endgame.

Most people have already decided as to whether they like these types of movies or not, but if you enjoy Marvel movies you will definitely enjoy this one. Even if you don’t particularly like this genre, you might still enjoy this movie’s themes of culture, dysfunctional family, and immigration. Shang-Chi is still available to watch in theaters and comes out on Disney+ on November 12.