The second film in Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe arrives from director Destin Daniel Cretton in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Shaun (Simu Liu) lives his life in San Francisco, where he spends his days working as a valet and his nights hanging with his best friend Katy (Awkwafina). While on the bus headed to work, the duo is attacked by the Ten Rings led by Razor Fist (Florian Munteanu).
Shaun displays incredible fighting skills and reveals to Katy that he was trained at a young age to be an assassin by his father, Wenwu (Tony Leung). Realizing that the time has come to confront the past he thought he had left behind, Shaun is soon drawn into the web of the mysterious Ten Rings organization, which leads to a reunion not only with his father, but his sister Jian Li (Fala Chen) as well.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is the first Marvel movie that I walked in to, where I didn't know a thing about the character. I was pulled into the film from the moment it began, where Destin Daniel Cretton starts with an engaging backstory of Xu Wenwu finding the Ten Rings; ten mystical weapons that grant their user immortality and great power. Kudos to the director for showing us Wenwu’s nature early on as he conquers many kingdoms and topples governments throughout history.
In the lead role of our hero, Simu Liu is a great find. Given that I wasn’t too familiar with Liu’s work, I could identify with the character. Liu not only brings impressive martial arts skills to the table but a likable, everyman quality. I was also fond of seeing Florian Munteanu on-screen, who shows he can do more than portray a mindless brute. Tony Leung was excellent as always, and Ben Kinglsey provides tremendous comic relief.
Kudos to screenwriters Dave Callaham, Destin Daniel Cretton, and Andrew Lanham for their handling of the female characters. All of the women are strong in the film and never fall into stereotypical tropes. I loved seeing Michelle Yeoh on screen in a leadership role while Meng'er Zhang as Xu Xialing (Shang Chi's sister) has some excellent line delivery and action moments. Finally, Awkwafina ventures away from her usual acting style to provide a well-balanced character in the form of Katy.
Paying great homage to the culture of East Asia, featuring impressive action sequences and winning performances, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a great time at the movies.
Final Grade: A -
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is in theaters now