Shang-Chi, the hero of this film, is the “Master of Kung-Fu” from Marvel Comics, now presented in a new, modern light. When he is drawn into the clandestine organization of the Ten Rings, he becomes forced to face the past he thought he left behind.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings may not be the first Marvel superhero film released this year, but it is the first to take place after the disastrous events in Avengers: Endgame. Friday’s premiere launches Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and suggests some directions that MCU could explore in the future.
We say from the beginning that the blockbuster directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, best known for the drama with lawyers Just Mercy, is a great reason to go to the movies, even if Shang-Chi does not avoid some of the familiar pitfalls and problems known from other films Marvel. Probably the great advantage of the film is that it is inspired by two extremely popular genres of Asian cinema: wuxia martial arts films (with direct references to well-known titles such as Tiger and Dragon) and action comedies such as to Jackie Chan. The result is visually engaging and spectacular, albeit uneven.
What Marvel manages to do in their new film is to combine comedy with an engaging message, namely that no matter what powers you have, it’s up to you to put them in the service of good. And who better to convey this message if not Shang-Chi (Simu Liu), the young martial arts expert who flees the violent past and hides in San Francisco, where he leads a carefree existence with his best friend , Katy (Awkwafina, good opportunity to be nice to us). It’s just that the past is not forgotten, and Shang-Chi has to face it when Shang-Chi’s ten-ring organization, led by Shang-Chi’s ruthless father (Tony Leung Chiu Wai), tracks him down.
After a false presentation of the Mandarin in Iron Man 3, here we finally meet this great villain of Marvel comics, and Friday’s premiere explores his biography with pleasure. Possessor from time immemorial of the ten rings that make his martial arts knowledge completely destructive, the Mandarin (his real name Wenwu) leads the organization of the Ten Rings from the shadows, causing havoc in the world. No wonder Shang-Chi doesn’t want to have anything to do with his violent father, only a souvenir from the deceased mother brings the two back face to face. Wenwu’s obsession with reaching Ta-Lo, an enchanted realm of Chinese mythology, is the whole engine behind the film and the key to its very different appearance from the other Marvel films.
Filmed by Bill Pope, the director of photography behind the spectacular frames of the Matrix, Shang-Chi looks amazing and has some of the best 3D effects seen in recent years in cinemas, so good that you will definitely try to “avoid” several times during viewing. You will therefore want to see it on a screen as large as possible and in the best conditions. The fact that an old collaborator of Jackie Chan was in charge of the choreography is also a plus of the film, because each object can become a weapon in a confrontation between positive and negative heroes. Romanians will be happy to see on the screen the Romanian fighter Florian Munteanu. After making his Hollywood debut in Creed II, Munteanu has a consistent role, that of Razor Fist, the right hand of the Mandarin and the protagonist in a spectacular fight in a bus chasing the sloping streets of San Francisco.
Beware, the final credits offer two sequences, one of which can have a very long beat in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.