We have been pleasantly surprised by Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The Marvel Cinematic Universe experiences a moment of transition; a start over in search of new icons, generational relays that give way to the new while saying goodbye to what brought us here. The Phase 4 Now it diversifies its content offering beyond the big screen, but it is not forgetting it. Shang-Chi hits theaters around the world this September 3 to run as a stamp on The House of Ideas with more force than he could do in the comics. And he has succeeded.
Marvel steps out of its comfort zone… and it works
The film places us at a certain moment after the events of Avengers: Endgame, although it does not explain how or why; and that is one of his great successes. Because his phenomenal first act —Which is already one of the best of all Marvel Studios to date, and that is to say— makes you forget about everything and reach out to a character as endearing as it is fascinating.
There are so many questions and such disbelief that is transferred, even from Shang-Chi himself to himself, that it is very difficult to stop paying attention to what is happening. A young Chinese immigrant in San Francisco, California, goes from being in charge of parking luxury cars to be involved by a clandestine organization, that of the Ten Rings, and thus face his past. An inevitable destiny whose ancestry hides lights and shadows, especially the latter.
The rhythm of the film is remarkably high, with a good use of the epic realism that Marvel Studios knows so well when it comes to showing traditional moments. Great directing job from Destin Daniel Cretton, who shows how he got on with David Callaham by writing a script with few fringes. Not everything works equally well on tape, however. Two hours and twelve minutes is a long time for a film like this, governed by giving intervals to the presentation of the characters, the respective flashbacks and a narrative that reveals secrets in small doses. There are no valley moments, but yes there is footage that sins of repeating patterns and structures of action that you have seen only moments before. The comic relief is inconsistent, leading to somewhat off-key scenes at moments of greatest drama. In fact, the central part has a significant slowdown.
Luckily, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings manages to disengage from the need to want to please everyone and focuses on the main goal when you need it most. There is a moment in the film when the viewer receives a lot of information, so much so that it is possible not to understand everything. In the end, all the pieces fit together. The last act is slightly predictable, but its remarkable staging and the weight that is given to all the characters, both main and secondary, compensates for the inherent prominence of a production that bears the name of the Kung Fu Master. And yes, there are two post-credit scenes that serve as an appetizer for what’s to come.
Shang-Chi vindicates the figure of the character and savors it on the big screen
And we finish with this, again, without going into detail strictly argumentative aspects: this film is a faithful representation of the figure of Shang-Chi. A vindication of an “eternal secondary” that ceases to be so. Because he earns it with his actions, with the determination of his will and with the excellent role of Simu Liu, this young Chinese-Canadian capable of perfectly reproducing the movements, gestures and behavior of the great Asian hero of Marvel in the comics. Martial arts choreographies are a visual treat. A potential new star has been born in the MCU, and that is something we have to celebrate.
A little reflection to finish: It is not your typical Marvel movie; in fact you don’t need it. It becomes de facto a mirror to look at for all those who are to come, because giving space to drama and humor is perfectly compatible without unbalancing the balance; all this with a touch of freshness and identity that are perfect for you.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is very worthwhile; and it is worth seeing in the cinema, that place that during the last year and a half we visited much less than we wanted. We have reason to reverse it.