REVIEW: “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” proves to be a worthy addition to the MCU

Backflips, somersaults, and karate chopping action all make for one standout MCU film.


Photo courtesy of Disney’s Marvel Studios.

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” movie poster.

Daniel Pineiro, Staff Writer

When a martial artist’s past finally catches up to him after years in hiding, he’s forced to confront his father: leader of the terrorist organization known as the Ten Rings. Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) must come to terms with his past and discover who he truly is in a world full of marvels.

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is an action/fantasy film directed by Destin Daniel Cretton that marks the twenty-fifth entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The movie introduces Marvel’s first Asian superhero in the second MCU film to be predominantly featuring a cast of people of color. The first film to do this was “Black Panther” in 2018.

Although the MCU is known for superhero movie moments that rely heavily on CGI, it was incredible to watch actual martial arts used on screen. Albeit with instances of CGI still being used, of course, the film’s choreography was above that of previous entries in the film franchise.

Since the film heavily centers on martial arts, the action sequences felt incredibly realistic and succeeded in showing why Shang-Chi is Marvel’s greatest hand-to-hand fighter. The undeniably unique action sequence battle between Shang-Chi and the Mandarin delivers audiences the action spectacle of the ages.

Simu Liu as Shang-Chi was a pure joy to watch on screen whenever an action sequence began to ramp up in tension. His on and offscreen passion as Marvel’s Shang-Chi, a martial arts master, quickly made him a real-life hero to both the film and Asians everywhere. Simu Liu is truly the heart and soul of the film, though his character was sometimes overshadowed by his father, played by Tony Leung Chiu-wai.

Tony Leung as the Mandarin was, without a doubt, the biggest highlight of the entire film. His relationship as Shang-Chi’s somewhat estranged father quickly became the film’s core focus and felt all the more authentic to their father-son dynamic.

This origin story succeeded in welcoming a brand new character this late into the Marvel Cinematic Universe who audience members of all cultures are sure to love; however, the film is not without its minor flaws.

Awkwafina as Katy was weirdly developed throughout the film. From the start, we’re introduced to her being Shang-Chi’s best friend for 10 years during his hiding and she actively helps him throughout his journey. With her character serving that stereotypical MCU formula of comedic ally who helps the main protagonist in their journey, it was awkward at times seeing her character be this far involved in a film that centers itself heavily towards Shang-Chi’s family.

She suddenly becomes a pro archer after just one day of bow and arrow training. This could be perceived as the story being rushed to justify her being there during the film’s climax.

Certain sequences involving cars felt like a long-winded BMW commercial in disguise and quickly became overtly egregious as if to tell audience goers, “Hey, buy our product after the movie.”

Other flaws include comic-book characters making a surprise appearance in the film only to leave fans questioning why a beloved character is suddenly friends with a previous MCU villain without any explanation. One antagonistic character that’s been heavily promoted as Shang-Chi’s rival has by far the weakest presence in the MCU.

Being Marvel’s twenty-fifth entry in the MCU and an origin story at that, “Shang-Chi and
the Legend of the Ten Rings” proves that the film franchise is in no way slowing down as it continues to ramp up the stakes and the future of the MCU for all audiences to come.

Editor’s Note: This story is a part of our September issue titled “SG Leaders Unmasked,” which you can pick up on campus or read online here.

Daniel Pineiro is a staff writer for the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or @Danny_x101 on Instagram.