Marvel adds ‘Legend of the Ten Rings’

JD Smith Nelson, Staff Writer

Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is a contender for top spot regarding their solo hero flicks. With solid action, character drama, and impressive effects/costuming, the film has a lot going for it. The story follows Shang-Chi, played by Simu Liu, and his family and friends facing against his father Wenwu, played by Tony Leung Chiu-Wai AKA the Mandarin as he attempts to bring back his deceased wife. Shang-Chi, after leaving behind his life with his father’s organization, now works in San Francisco as a valet. While attempting to lay low, he is tracked down by the ten rings and thrust back into the world of combat he was raised into.
Shang-Chi has a plot that sounds quite simple on paper; however, the character relationships add depth that keeps the audience invested in the story as it moves along at a rather comfortable pace. Throughout the story there are flashbacks dotting the runtime. They show us the motivations behind Shang-Chi, Wenwu, and Shang-Chi’s sister Xialing, played by Meng’er Zhang, and help us become more invested in them not just as warriors, but as human beings. This particular outing may have the strongest antagonist because of this character depth. Wenwu’s motivations are understandable and surprisingly justified. You believe why this man goes to the violent extremes that he does in service of his goals.
On the note of violence, this film has plenty of it, and it is shot wonderfully. Doing away with the shake-cam of previous entries such as The Winter Soldier and Civil War, this film uses dynamic angles and steady mid-range shots to give us a clear yet fascinating view of the wonderfully choreographed fight scenes. Between all out brawls on moving buses, to rumbles in underground fight clubs, the story is driven just as much by action as its emotional beats.
Each character’s fighting styles and weapon choices are clearly defined. Most interesting of these weapons are the titular ten rings. These rings have an array of powerful abilities that seem to be limited only by the imagination. While other weapons such as Thor’s hammer Mjölnir tend to break up fights a bit and distract from the basic kicks and punches in a fight, the ten rings do the exact opposite. They flow beautifully with the fighters’ movements and enhance the attacks already present. The effects bringing them to life truly are convincing as well.
Shang-Chi’s effects are not only convincing, but visually mesmerizing. There is a setting in a bit of the second act and the entire third act that is primarily CGI, and it is magical. Incredibly colorful and imaginative, it feels tangible as well and immerses the audience. If not for the modern gifts of CGI this world may not look half as fantastic. Comparable to the appearance of Josh Brolin’s Thanos in Avengers Infinity War and Avengers Endgame in its believability, it should be praised, if not awarded. This texturing mentality reaches out even to the costuming.
From the sleek yet bright appearance of Death Dealer, to the dragon scale robes Shang-Chi dawns in the second act, the costumes are all bold, distinguishable, and highly textured. Kym Barret, also known for her creation of the costume in 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man, knocks it out of the park here as well. She manages to bring together traditional Chinese garb and tactical superhero outfits of modern day. The result is truly breathtaking and makes the character designs even more memorable.
Overall, Shang-Chi is a film that revels in its kung fu flick origins unabashedly, and it is all the better for it. The action, emotional beats, and visual flair of the flick keeps the audience engaged, pulls at the heartstrings and, despite a touch of awkward marvel humor, is a great romp for all. If a sequel is in the cards for this film, it will certainly be worth seeing. If you are vaccinated and can find a showing with plenty of available space for social distancing, this movie is absolutely worth your time. Otherwise, it will be available on Disney+ for no additional cost on Nov. 17 later this year, so give it a watch.