Movie Review: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Kaitlin Arocho, Staff Reporter

On Friday, September 3, the newest Marvel Studios movie, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, premiered. It broke the Labor Day box office record of $30.6 million, that was previously held by Halloween (2007), with $71.4 million.

In the film there were creatures known from Chinese culture, like the nine-tailed fox Huli Jing (also known as kitsune in Japan), DiJiang (“Morris”) which are mountain patron gods in Chinese Mythology, and Feng shui Fu Dogs (or Imperial Guardian Lions). There was a good portion of the movie that was spoken in Mandarin, the most common language in China. Also, traditionally in Eastern culture women don’t have as big of a role and are often just to the side observing which makes sense as to why Xialing (Meng’ er Zhang) had to teach herself how to fight. 

With the exception of a few characters, the entire cast is of some asian descent. The only one actually from China though is Meng’ er Zhang. She’s done a number of theater productions but this was the first time she’s ever been on camera. Ben Kingsley, who plays Trevor Slattery, basically gave her masterclasses on how to act on camera everyday. Considering all of that and the pressure of it being for as huge of a franchise as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, she did extremely well.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was a beautifully done movie, with attention to detail regarding Asian culture and the intention behind major fight sequences. The second fight scene, one between the Mandarin (Tony Leung Chiu-wai) and Leiko Wu (Fala Chen), was different from most fights you’d see in a Marvel movie. With the Mandarin attacking for a majority of the fight and Leiko Wu being on the defensive with the exception of a few moments. It felt like a commentary on the brash, clouded judgement of men, against the calculated, delicate, yet strong touch of women. There were moments that were done in slow motion, in order to show a hint of romance between them, but also to highlight her calm fighting style. This same exact fight happens with Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) taking his mother’s place and the slow motion moments in this fight show his growth as a character. The idea of “knowing where you come from” is strung throughout the movie and is really highlighted in this fight.

Seeing as Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings belongs to Marvel Studios, and they tend to do well, its achievements are no surprise, but now being out of its premiere weekend, is it worth going to see? The answer is yes.

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One comment

  • Honestly, I wish this review had better captured the magnificence that this film was. You’re throwing us straight into Chinese Culture explanations, without giving the reader any hint as to what this film is about. A non-Marvel fan would have trouble understanding why exactly they should go see this movie. I’m not saying acknowledging the diversity in this film is bad, it just could have been executed better. As well, nowhere in this review is there any description as to what the film entails. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a superhero action film, from Marvel Studios, and it is difficult to understand that based solely on the information you have provided us.
    At first glance, the first paragraph seems to be saying that Shang-Chi apparently “broke” Labor Day box office records with $30.6 million, as compared to Halloween with $71.4 million. This particular sentence could have been worded better in order to better describe how Shang-Chi grossed $71.4 million on its opening weekend.
    Similarly, you state that “The only one actually from China though is Meng’ er Zhang.”. This is not technically incorrect, but it is absolutely worth mentioning Tony Leung in this statement. He is an extremely popular Chinese Figure, originally from Hong Kong, and even Simu Liu (the actor who plays Shang-Chi) recalls calling his parents during filming, and the first thing they would always ask him is “Did you work with Tony today?!”.
    I also believe it is worth giving some exposition from Iron Man 3 for anyone going to see the film. The character Trevor Slattery originates from that film, and anyone who has not seen Iron Man 3 will not understand about The Mandarin, and the Ten Rings’ association with it.
    The characters in this review are also not technically incorrect, but confusing nonetheless. I think you should specify that Tony Leung plays Shang-Chi’s father (Wenwu), who is technically the Mandarin, but someone without any prior knowledge of Marvel films will not know who that is. You should specify that Wenwu/The Mandarin (played by Tony Leung) is Shang-Chi’s father, and Leiko Wu (played by Fala Chen) is Shang-Chi’s mother.
    Please take all my criticism with a grain of salt, as you are the experts, and I’m just a bored kid in class.