The Reel Review
Marvel’s first Asian-led superhero movie is the story of Shang-Chi, a Kung Fu master who is forced to confront his past after being drawn into the mystical Ten Rings organization. He and his sister find themselves at odds with their father, who is convinced that the matriarch of their family, years after her death, is actually being held captive by her home village of Ta Lo, which harbors mythical beasts.
With a charming story, spectacular Kung Fu fight choreography, and impressively creative CGI, Shang-Chi is an absolute delight. A very likable Simu Liu (Kim’s Convenience) is convincing as the unlikely superhero with some fantastic martial arts skills, with a terrific Tony Chiu-Wai Leung as his father/foe. Awkwafina injects her trademark wry humor as his bestie, with Michelle Yeoh showcasing her trademark motherly vibe as his auntie. Meng’er Zhang is also impressive as his badass sister rocking an Edna Mode hairdo.
Director Destin Daniel Cretton (Just Mercy) deftly bridges the gap between the more typical Marvel extravaganza and traditional Chinese visual imagery. The inclusion of the hundun, a faceless dog with magical wings, is a cute touch, as are dragons reminiscent of the street variety seen in Chinese New Year festivals. Make sure to stick around for the closing credits scene – it’s hilarious and well worth the wait. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a rousing, playful winner, finally giving Marvel much-needed Asian representation just as 2018’s Black Panther did for Black Marvel fans.
• Although legendary Hong Kong film actor Tony Chiu-Wai Leung speaks fluent English, this is his first role in an American film and his first English-speaking role.
• Michelle Yeoh is one of two actors to get a double role in a Marvel film, after playing Aleta Ogord in 2017’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Gemma Chan was in 2019’s Captain Marvel and is in the upcoming Eternals.
• Awkwafina, Ronny Chieng and Michelle Yeoh previously worked together in 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians.