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Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings - An Unexpected Disappointment

Updated: May 10

I had high hopes for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and watching half the movie dashed most of them. The Simu Liu starrer was amazing for the first few minutes into the movie and the bus fight is simply beyond belief. But beyond the second half, the movie begins to slip on several fronts.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Movie Review
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

The chemistry between Simu Liu and Awkwafina and Simu is just fantastic and Tony Leung Chiu-wai along with Michelle Yeoh gets everyone all psyched up for a great show. Liu's comedic timing perfected during his time on Kim's Convenience really shows.

I might go so far as to say that Liu's Shang-Chi can give Chris Pratt's Star-Lord a run for his money to be Marvel's flagship comedic superhero. But unfortunately, that's where this dream for a great movie debut starts and ends.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Plot (Spoiler-Free)

This is some weak sauce right here. I won't get into the specifics of it, but when you listen to the storytelling it feels like the hero's motivation is there for the sake of exposition and nothing else.

If Whedon's Justice League were a Marvel movie, this would be it - rushed character development, a hollow plot device, and a money grab. Now some Marvel fans may disagree on this, but it's my 2 cents on the matter.

Simu Liu and Awkwafina in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Is that...comedy gold?

Apart from references to the Ten Rings in Iron Man 1 and 3, Marvel hasn't invested in world-building, character development, or even a meaty plot. It's like the team at Shang-Chi just woke up one day to a text from Kevin Feige and said "Shoot! I've got a movie to make, and fast!"

It really is a shame since the cast is great, the fight scenes are totally badass (especially the bus scene) and Awkwafina and Liu get along like a house on fire!

If only they had spent more time developing something more than a 1 dimensional big bad, a rushed script, and more links to the existing MCU, things would have been awesome.

Now let's get to the good stuff!

  • Simu Liu kicks ass like it's nobody's business and looks good doing it

  • Nora Lum/Awkwafina joins forces with Simu Liu to unearth comedy gold - great comic timing

  • Special effects are as you would expect from an MCU movie, really great

Cast of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

This is a section I would have easily skipped if most of the cast and crew weren't entirely East Asian. Apart from the ones already mentioned we also have Benedict Wong playing Wong, and Fala Chen playing Leiko Wu (Shang's mother).

Also present is Ronnie Chueng who makes appearances on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, and Meng' er Zhang as Xialing (Shang's sister).

Michelle Yeoh in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Movie
Aging like fine wine - Michelle Yeoh

The cast here is selected on the lines of Ryan Coogler's Black Panther, to represent the East-Asian community in the MCU. The main goal is to have Marvel's first East-Asian superhero backed by his homies in an all-East-Asian production.

Should You Watch It? - Maybe

Go into the movie hall with low to no expectations and you should be fine. Better still imagine you are about to see Joss Whedon's Justice League. There's nothing extraordinary about this Marvel movie apart from the all-East-Asian cast, the promise of funnier scenes in the future, and MCU standard graphics for the fight scenes.

The plot is below average going by previews and hype, so you might walk out disappointed or angry if you expected an East Asian Black Panther! Watch with tempered expectations!

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