Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings review
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
The film is complex; at some points, I laughed a lot, while at other points, I was shaken.
Note: This review contains no spoilers.
Before Toronto actor Simu Liu was in the hit Canadian comedy Kim’s Convenience, he held roles in various TV shows including Blood and Water and Orphan Black, as well as modeling for stock photos. In 2014, he jokingly tweeted wondering when Marvel would release a film with an Asian superhero. A few years later, when Marvel announced the Shang-Chi film, Liu replied to them on Twitter. Some speculate this chain of events led Marvel to cast him as Shang-Chi, the role that will likely bring him worldwide fame and maybe make him the sexiest man alive.
I learned about Liu while he was on Kim’s Convenience; I also met him and engaged with him on social media a few times. By doing his own stunts and being passionate about Asian representation in the media Liu is a great fit for the role. I watched Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings in IMAX back-to-back with Black Widow. Both films tackle families and changing values. As expected, Shang-Chi is epic and fun with surprises along the way.
The film begins with an explanation about the ten rings where Wenwu (Tony Leung) collects them and lives a long life with his army for thousands of years. In 1996, he discovers a hidden village called Ta Lo where he sees a village keeper who he would eventually marry and have two children, one of whom is Shang-Chi (Liu). The movie time skips to the present where we see Shang-Chi (now named Shaun) living in San Francisco and working as a hotel valet with his best friend of 10 years: Katy (played by Akwafina).
Soon, Shang-Chi gets a postcard from his sister, Xialing (played by Meng’er Zhang); then, he and Katy are attacked by his father’s army to retrieve their necklaces. They must travel to Macau and meet in Xialing’s fight club to begin a new era in a more diverse Avengers universe. The introduction is serious with its majestic splendor before suddenly turning into a romantic comedy within the first 20 minutes. The rest of the film is complex though; at some points, I laughed a lot, while at other points, I was shaken. If you watch the film, you will find out what shook me.
Shang-Chi’s relatives represent eastern values and sometimes question the western way. For example, in one scene, Wenwu explains how Chinese names are sacred while in another, Xialing asks Shang-Chi, if America made him soft. Conversely, Katy represents western or American values when she answers certain questions and talks about her childhood. Feminism is considered through Xialings’ experience of her father favouring her brother; this meant she had to train herself and build her fight club to grow.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings generated a lot of excitement, and it was worth the wait. Fans of the Avenger’s universe were hoping for something big and this delivers. As for Liu, he finally made it and you are going to see him in movies for a long time. If you are reading this Simu, I knew that you were going to be a big action star one day. Congratulations on the success and I hope that you will have a fun time with the rest of the Avengers.