Marvel welcomes its first Asian superhero with open arms and in the most magnificent way.
Shang-Chi is the master of unarmed weaponry-based Kung Fu who elopes from his home but is forced to confront his past after being drawn into the Ten Rings organization led by his father.
It took Shang-Chi for the Marvel universe to come back on the big screen after two long years. Yes, the coronavirus pandemic is the major reason. Though Black Widow skipped a theatrical release in India, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings managed to make it to the silver screen at select places. And, it won't disappoint you.
There is a sense of déjà vu with Black Panther too as the cast has also admitted that the Black Panther has paved the way to Marvel's first Asian superhero. Having said that, Shang-Chi gets the right push from Marvel and in a magnificent way. Despite a few stereotypes about Asian descent, the movie honours the Mandarin legends in the form of martial arts and also dragons.
The film starts with a backstory of Shang-Chi's (Simu Liu) father Wenwu aka The Mandarin played by Tony Leung. Being a millennium-year-old man, he finds love in a woman named Jiang Li played by the extremely gorgeous Fala Chen. They have a not-so-happily ever after for obvious reasons like when Shang-Chi becomes Shaun, a young man in San Francisco. The viewers are left hooked on to know how the location changed in a jiffy from an ancient Chinese backdrop to a busy SFO.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings gets to the point within few minutes. We see how the story leads, with few scenes set in the US, and the frame immediately shifts back to Macau.
For someone who is not much aware of original action movies based out of China, this gives a sense of The Karate Kid (Jackie Chan) version where Jaden Smith's character is an amateur but becomes pro in no time. Shang-Chi, however, knows his roots but his way of brushing up his skills in the hands of an important character (not his parents) will remind you of The Karate Kid.
Similarly, one can draw an instant comparison with Dementor's Kiss from the Harry Potter franchise. Here, they have given it a direct name as a soul-feeding dragon.
There are three major fight sequences in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings but the first one takes the cake. The stunt coordinators have choreographed the sequences extremely well, keeping the actors in mind. They made sure they honour the Chinese martial arts in every form with their stunts.
Another sequence is between Tony Leung and Fala Chen which is beautifully choreographed and also romantic.
Simu Liu has made an impactful debut as a Marvel superhero, making him the best in Phase Four until now. The actor knows the craft and delivered what he signed up for. Being a stunt master himself, it seems like he could easily get into the skin of the character of Shang-Chi.
Awkwafina is at her usual best and there's not a moment where she won't leave one in splits with her deadpan humour. The actor knows her USP and she delivers it effortlessly. The surprise element of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is debutante Meng'er Zhang as Xialing, Shang-Chi's sister. She will leave you in a gasp for breath in multiple sequences and is definitely the epitome of perfect casting. Veteran actress Michelle Yeoh, who shows her martial arts skill during the duel between her and Simu, deserves a round of applause too.
The director Destin Daniel Cretton receives a thumbs up for taking on this project and breaking the cinematic stereotypes about Asian people.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, although chaotic, is visually magnificent. There are 'fantastic beasts' in the film, and now you definitely know where to find them.
The superhero movies create a further niche in Phase Four. And yes, the post-credit scenes hint at which path will Shang-Chi go before he becomes an 'Avenger'.