‘Shang-Chi’ brings exciting action, fantasy elements to MCU

Noah Levine

Ring ring ring … A new Marvel movie is calling. 

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” the newest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, follows the journey of Shang-Chi (Simu Liu), a young kung fu master. Called back to his father’s compound, he becomes entwined with the mysterious Ten Rings organization. When his father Xu Wenwu (Tony Chiu-Wai Leung) presents a plan to open a gateway to rescue their deceased mother, Shang-Chi soon realizes there are more sinister forces at play. Assisted by his skilled sister Xialing (Meng’er Zhang) and longtime best friend Katy (Awkwafina), Shang-Chi travels to a magical village to protect the gateway’s secrets from Wenwu. 

Simu Liu brings a charismatic charm to the leading role of Shang-Chi. His innocent personality contrasts well with his brutal fighting skills. Liu and Awkwafina have fantastic chemistry, leading to many instances of effective comedic banter. Liu’s confidence as an actor exudes through every scene, despite this being his first major blockbuster role. The fight scenes in particular showcase Liu’s effectiveness as a superhero actor. 

Tony Chiu-Wai Leung brings an appropriate amount of menace and sternness to the role of Xu Wenwu. Although, at times, Leung’s performance veers too far into a typical two-dimensional evil villain, his end goal becomes sillier as the plot chugs on. 

The combat scenes account for the brightest highlights of Marvel’s newest epic. Swift camera movements and razor-sharp choreography result in several jaw-dropping set pieces of close-quarters combat. One standout sequence in a moving bus showcases impeccable choreography and sound design as chaos erupts throughout the extremely claustrophobic space. This high-stakes sequence takes the cake as one of Marvel’s most impressive action feats. 

As opposed to the more grounded approach of previous MCU origin films, “Shang-Chi” goes all in with fantastical legends and mythical creatures. The exploration of more fantasy-heavy spaces with elaborate creature design breathes fresh air into the Marvel brand, but the film occasionally gets lost in its lore. One too many times, progression of the plot halts for yet another flashback featuring the protagonists as kids. While these scenes provide valuable information and insight into character decisions, they became quite repetitive as the narrative progressed. 

“Shang-Chi” brings Marvel fans a refreshing yet familiar superhero extravaganza featuring excellent fight sequences, whimsical special effects and an entertaining leading cast. 

3 Rings out of 5