In San Francisco, Shaun (Simu Liu, 32) is an easy-going hotel valet who is friends with Katy (as played by Golden Globe-winning Awkwafina, 33). However, when a horde of assassins attacks them both, fate rudely forces Shaun to reveal his true identity. Shaun is in fact, Shang-Chi. Raised to be the perfect assassin, Shang-Chi’s crime-lord father Wenwu (Tony Leung, 59) wants him back. Believing that Shang-Chi is the key to accessing a mystical kingdom with undreamt-of super-powers, Wenwu will stop at nothing until he has captured Shang-Chi…
… if you’re looking for a solid reason to hit the multiplex this could be the pre-Bond escapism you’re looking for.
However, director Destin Daniel Cretton’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has an even slimmer tightrope to walk. By being part “martial arts movie” and part “Marvel blockbuster”, it has to satisfy both audiences – and for the most part, it’s pretty successful. All the fight sequences are beautifully choreographed and the camera comfortably spins around to catch all the action. Yet, the first act and much of the movie belongs to Awkwafina as Shang-Chi’s best friend, Lucy. With spot-on deadpan asides and deft, dry comic touches, she and (several other surprise arrivals) will definitely seduce you into sticking with this film.
In taking several pages of inspiration from director Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok, director Destin Daniel Cretto understands that humour is the key here. Couple this with some new characters who I fully expect to see as stuffed toys in the Disney Store and you have more than enjoyable 132 minutes. That said, will it be “the one ring” to rule over this month’s other movie releases? Or should you wait for it on Disney+?
Without question, whilst Michelle Yeoh’s fighting skills and In The Mood For Love Tony Leung‘s acting always deserve the biggest canvas, but there’s no getting away from Marvel’s penchant for a third act battle. Dragging its heels a little too deeply through cultural references by its end, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings feels a little overblown by its end. Yet, if you’re looking for a solid reason to hit the multiplex this could be the pre-Bond escapism you’re looking for.