Simu Liu plays Shang-Chi in Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”.
Marvel’s latest hero hits theaters on September 3rd and he’s “magnetic,” critics say.
To be seen exclusively in cinemas next Friday, Disney’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” revolves around Shang-Chi, a servant in a posh hotel called Shaun, an Americanized version of his name. He is the son of Wenwu, a centuries-old conqueror, crime boss and bearer of the legendary 10 rings.
After his mother’s death, a teenager Shang-Chi left his ancestral home and remained estranged from his father for years. Now, as an adult, he has to face his past and his father.
With a 91% “Fresh” score on Rotten Tomatoes out of 105 reviews, those who have seen expanded screenings of Disney’s newest comic strip call it a “total crowd pleaser. Period.”
“At some point during one of the best chases in San Francisco film history, ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ makes at least one thing gloriously clear: Today you can get your money’s worth in the cinema,” wrote Peter Hartlaub in his review of the film for the San Francisco Chronicle.
In addition to the action-packed battle sequences and funny one-liners that have become indispensable in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Shang-Chi” explores the clash of East and West – tradition and modernity – on a large, explosive scale.
Critics largely praised the cast of the film, of which Tony Leung stood out as a villainous but charming wenwu. Simu Liu, the eponymous Shang-Chi, is “magnetic” during the action sequences and Awkwafina shines as his quick-talking, funny best friend Katy.
“Shang-Chi” will be the first Marvel movie to hit theaters exclusively since then Covid pandemic closed the cinema business in March 2020. Industry analysts are excited to see how the film fares on the opening weekend and whether positive reviews and word of mouth will give it staying power at the box office.
This is how critics thought of “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” before its cinema debut on September 3rd:
Katie Rife, AV Club
Critics praised “Shang-Chi” for its elaborate stunt and fight sequences, which are borrowed from classic martial arts films.
“In a way, ‘Shang-Chi’ is a mixtape of martial arts film genres: an early scene pays tribute to the balletic, graceful films of Zhang Yimou, while a dramatic bus chase later mimics the daring of an early Jackie Chan vehicle,” wrote Katie Rife in her review for AV Club.
Many have pointed to an early scene in the film where Shang-Chi battles multiple enemies in a crowded bus, as a prime example of these influences.
Even so, Marvel seems to be beating, Rife wrote.
“‘Shang-Chi’ insists on either pausing or burying the stunt work – led by Chan protégé Brad Allan, who tragically died earlier this month – with mountains of blatant CGI,” she said.
Read the full review from AV Club.
Tony Leung plays Wenwu in Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”.
Angie Han, the Hollywood reporter
“It doesn’t take long for ‘Shang-Chi’ to set its terms,” Angie Han wrote in her review for The Hollywood Reporter.
The film begins in China with narration and dialogue that is entirely in Mandarin with subtitles. Only when the film jumps several minutes in its running time to San Francisco is even a single word of English spoken.
“Even in 2021, when subtitles are hardly an exotic experience for most moviegoers, the decision to use them in the opening scenes of an American blockbuster sends a message,” she wrote.
Han noted that “Shang-Chi”, with its magical forests and mysterious ancient artifacts, sometimes “hardly feels like a superhero movie.” And that’s good.
Still, the film is full of Marvel tropes, including hilarious, self-deprecating humor, which Han says brings the characters back to earth, but also takes “some of its wonders” away from the film.
Read the full review from The Hollywood Reporter.
Shirley Li, The Atlantic
The most prominent part of almost every Rotten Tomatoes review is Tony Leung. As one of Asia’s biggest movie stars, this is Leung’s first Hollywood film – and he’s stealing the show.
Wenwu is the antagonist of “Shang-Chi”, but he is more of an antihero than a villain. The 10 rings made him immortal and love led him to give up his powers. The loss of his wife, however, leads him into a deep spiral of grief.
“To root Wenwu’s motives in heartbreak rather than domination, destruction or vengeance feels unique for a Marvel film: Shang-Chi’s central conflict goes beyond the classic of good versus evil and far beyond that of a son who deals with it argues with his father, ”wrote Shirley Li in her review for The Atlantic.
The film may be called “Shang-Chi,” but for Li, as other critics argue, this is Wenwu’s and Leungs’ film.
“Not only is he the star of the movie’s opening – in his hands, Wenwu’s havoc catalyzes the action and permeates every frame, making the film a tragedy,” she wrote. “He becomes the character everyone else revolves around, whether he’s on the scene or not. After all, that’s how grief works, it shines.
Read the full review from The Atlantic.
Meng’er Zhang, Simu Liu and Awkwafina star in Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”.
Brian Truitt, USA today
However, the main role of “Shang-Chi” is not without its own charm.
Simu Liu, best known for his portrayal of Jung on the Canadian sitcom “Kim’s Convenience,” may be relatively unknown in America, but he “is just a joy to watch,” wrote Brian Truitt in his review of “Shang-Chi”. “
“He’s the MCU’s most significant and contagious rookie since the late Chadwick Boseman with the same face-of-the-franchise appeal as Chris Evans,” he wrote.
Truitt said Liu has a “subtle charm” that draws audiences into the film, even when magical creatures and supernatural artifacts bring him to the realm of the fantastic.
“Robert Downey Jr. and his lead actor Tony Stark have now disappeared from the Marvel films,” wrote Truitt. “Fortunately, they have found a suitable successor in the unjustifiably charismatic Simu Liu and his dragon-riding, powerful alter ego.”
Read the full USA Today review.
Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal owns Rotten Tomatoes.