Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is quite possibly Marvel’s best film yet, a perfect storm of charismatic actors; breathtakingly well-shot kung fu; fun, often hilarious, action scenes; and an engaging story. Simu Liu (Kim’s Convenience) plays the lead role of Shang-Chi, a prodigal son estranged from his 1,000-year-old father Wenwu, played by the legendary Hong Kong actor Tony Chiu-Wai Leung (In the Mood for Love). Instead of running the family terrorist organization and carrying out assassinations, he runs away as a teen to the U.S., abandoning his sister Xialing (Meng’er Zhang), and gets a job parking cars with his BFF Katy (Awkwafina). But after a decade, his father sends some goons to come looking for him, which leads to the first of many amazing fight scenes, this one aboard a bus. Shang-Chi delves into more serious and familiar Marvel themes of family legacy, grief, and finding one’s purpose. One can understand the pain Wenwu feels over the loss he has experienced, and while he is the “bad guy” there are enough shades of grey to make him truly sympathetic. Awkwafina provides some comic relief as Shang-Chi’s bestie, and thankfully the writers do not force her into being a love interest. Zhang’s character of Xialing is a bit thin, but we will likely get more of her in future films. She holds a grudge against Shang-Chi for abandoning her so she . . . starts a fight club?! There are some clunky Marvel cameos, but overall Shang-Chi is a ridiculously entertaining ride.