My Review of "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings"
This one of the few times I ever felt like a movie was really catered toward me. It hit me in a different way.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is Marvel's latest movie entry to phase four of their infamous Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). There have been rumblings about this movie for a long time. I think ever since Black Panther had come out there were cries out for an Asian Marvel superhero. We finally have him and his name is Shang-Chi.
This movie starts off with a guy named Shaun. He seems like a regular guy because he doesn't live extravagantly and doesn't know what he wants to do with his life. His best buddy Katy are kind of adult loafers going day to day having as much fun as they can.
Little does Katy know that Shaun is actually Shang-Chi a guy that has been trained to be an assassin since he was very young. This doesn't really come up until a mysterious letter comes to Shaun that he believes is from his sister.
The action of the movie instantaneously gets wild after the discovery of this letter because assassins start attacking Shaun. Boy oh boy the action sequences are pretty well done. They're not done so fast and frantic that you can't really keep up with what's going on either. It's going on in broad daylight so you can see exactly where each kick connects and feel all of the impact going on.
We then go into a plethora of flashbacks to tell the story of who Shang-Chi really is. He has a pretty wild past that I won't spoil for you but eventually you find out that his father is the culprit behind the assassination attempt. Fearing for his sister, Shaun then takes a trip to Macau to save her. Fortunately for us Katy decides to join him in his adventures.
Now, I know that there has been this case of Asian representation in Hollywood and really I don't think there really needs to be even though I'm Asian myself. In the end I don't think that Asians (Chinese in particular) even have to fight for this because of the large movie market in China. Hollywood will cater to whoever is going to pay the bills.
With that said, they have started to make more Asian leads in movies recently. The last major one was Crazy Rich Asians. It was an admirable movie and pretty ambitious. They did well for themselves but it didn't really connect with me as much as some would think even though everyone was Chinese. These Asians were crazy rich like the title claimed and I couldn't relate to their lifestyles.
This movie changed all that. I don't know if it was the fact that the lead's story was so similar to mine or not. Earlier before I had watched this movie I went to go visit my mother in the cemetery with my ailing dad. That similar situation played out in this movie. I could see myself in Shaun's shoes minus the assassin abilities. Even the family drama kind of hit me hard as well.
One of the biggest aspect of this movie that really caught me was the village of Ta Lo. I know this was supposed to reflect Wakanda in Black Panther but the Asian version but this mystical village hit me in the feels. All of the mythical creatures that I've seen as a child were brought to life here in this rich fantasy world. Even people that don't know too much about Chinese culture will recognize some of the monsters and creatures that were brought to life in this village. It's been a long time that I've had my breath taken from me from visuals in a movie and this was one of those moments.
I think I was almost in tears at how happy this movie had hit me. The character struggles and even the sense of duty each of the characters have. There are certain cultural responsibilities that were captured in this movie that I thought were very well played out. The fact that Shang-Chi's sister felt like she was out of place because Shang-Chi was taught the assassin arts and not her. Shang-Chi's feeling of obligation to fulfill his father's place. They even went into the fact that Katy had lost her language and culture living in America all of her life. There are many aspects to the scenes in this movie that reflect actual Chinese culture.
Katy is actually a really big shining moment in this movie. I related to her in so many situations. She's your very typical American born Chinese (ABC that they refer to). She's bewildered by the spectacles of Macau and all the majesty of Ta Lo. The only issue I had with her is how she helps out closer to the end of the movie. I think they could have done it another way. The method that they used was a little unbelievable.
Pandering aside I still liked this movie a lot. The world building that they did in this movie was second to none. I just wished they would spend more time in Ta Lo because that place was amazing!
Overall, this movie took my breath away. I was fully engaged throughout the movie and couldn't look away. The action sequences, world building and character development was absolutely amazing. If you don't get amazed by that then the art direction of the movie will take you in. There's so much I love about this movie that I have to give this movie an 8.5 out of 10. The only thing is it's not very child friendly because a lot of the dialogue is in Mandarin and there will be subtitles. There will be a lot of situations where you're going to have to explain what happens to your child.