This week on "Justin Hall At The Movies," I'll be reviewing the MCU as they travel to the Far East for their latest blockbuster, "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings."
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings marks the MCU's 25th film and in typical MCU fashion, it proves to be visually dazzling, has a healthy dose of humor, and a story that's mostly engaging even it it takes more conventional routes instead of being more daring.
Led by an all-Asian cast, it stars Simu Liu as the titular character who discovers his family are a part of an ancient dynasty known as the Ten Rings. The Ten Rings also refer to 10 actual rings that give their users power and immortality.
Shang-Chi is confronted by a group of men on a bus due to wearing a pendant that was given to him by his late mother, Shang-Chi is convinced that this organization that came from him is looking to finish he and his family off for good.
Awkwafina costars as his best friend Katy and she provides the comic relief and nearly all of her one-liners work. She's drawn into this plot by being a fish out of water. Together they have terrific chemistry both in the scenes involving humor and establishing character development.
Shang-Chi is reunited with his long-lost sister Xialing (Meng'er Zhang). She resents her brother for abandoning her as a child, but he desperately needs her help in fending off this organization known as the Iron Gang from wanting to get their hands on the Rings.
I mentioned this movie is visually dazzling and it doesn't disappoint in that department. The martial arts scenes
are eloquently choreographed and never feel repetitive. There's a poetic fluidity as well as a massive intensity throughout. It's oftentimes reminiscent of The Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
We get the obligatory backstory on how Shang-Chi and his family acquired the rings and that's probably the dullest part of the film due to it taking that conventional route that the MCU is known for, but where Shang-Chi lightly stumbles there, it more than makes up for in pure visual spectacle and it's certainly the MCU's most mind-bending movie since Doctor Strange.
The cast does a great job at bringing their characters to life in such an authentic way that truly represents Asian culture in a positive manner and they never feel like stereotypes. Instead we get fully fleshed out characters who have dimension and motivation. I think this movie will do for the Asian market what Black Panther did for the African American market.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings isn't the most original entry in the MCU, but it's a film that knows how to strike a balance with a fantastic story, memorable characters and sensational action. It's entertaining, impressive, funny, and satisfying.
(Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and language.)