Movie Review: “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”

Thirteen years ago, Marvel launched its Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with the release of The Incredible Hulk, starring Edward Norton. Over the last decade, the MCU has landed 10 movies in the top 50 box office lifetime grosses. Its newest movie, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the 10 Rings, has only upheld the massive success of its predecessors. After its first month of theatrical release, Shang-Chi passed the $400 million mark in the global box office, becoming the first movie released during the pandemic to do so. 

Like the rest of the MCU movies, Shang-Chi was inspired by its Marvel comic counterpart. The movie tells the story of a legendary set of ten rings that Xu Wenwu, a powerful Chinese warrior, accumulates. The rings give him immortality, and they can also be used as a weapon that no man-made invention can overpower. With the help of the ten rings, Wenwu and his army ruthlessly conquer areas around the entire world. However, after 1,000 years of defeating countless governments, Wenwu falls in love with Ying Li, the guardian of the small, mythical village of Ta Lo. Wenwu gives up his life with the ten rings to have children with Ying, and the couple has a son, Shang-Chi, and a daughter, Xialing. Unfortunately, a past enemy of Wenwu kills Ying, and Wenwu puts the rings back on to avenge his wife’s death. Wenwu falls back into his old life of killing and conquering, but this time, he trains his son as well. Wanting no part in this kind of life, Shang-Chi escapes to America as a teenager, his sister following several years later. Shang-Chi lives a normal life for ten years, until one day, his father sends a group of soldiers to steal Shang-Chi’s pendant. After a confrontation with his father, Shang-Chi, dives into a mission to prevent his father from trying to resurrect his mother. Katy, his friend from America, and Xialing assist him, as well as The Mandarin, a villain that appeared in Iron Man 3. The movie features several extremely well-choreographed martial arts fighting sequences, as well as the signature comedic aspects of MCU movies. 

Shang-Chi is the perfect movie for lovers of action and superhero movies. Additionally, it is the first Marvel movie with an Asian lead. Simu Liu, the Chinese-Canadian actor who plays Shang-Chi, hopes that he can make a difference in the lives of Asian Marvel fans. As Liu stated in a Time 100 Talks interview, “That’s really the power of representation: seeing yourself on screen and feeling like you’re a part of this world, which for Asian children who have grown up in the West hasn’t always been the case.”