TRAINING: Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) practices his martial arts in preparation to fight his father’s army. (Photo courtesy of Marvel)
TRAINING: Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) practices his martial arts in preparation to fight his father’s army.

Photo courtesy of Marvel

Review: Shang-Chi

October 12, 2021

The newest Marvel movie hit theaters Sep. 3 bringing another Avenger into the scene. Not being a die-hard Marvel fanatic myself, I can confidently say that you don’t need to know the plot of every Marvel movie to understand this film. With subtle nods to Doctor Strange and the Incredible Hulk, any movie consumer would understand and love this movie. Veteran Marvel producers Kevin Feige and Jonathan Schwartz did a great job of keeping typical superhero elements while mixing in aspects of culture and fantasy.

Shang-Chi (Simu Liu), a martial arts master, is confronted with his past and brought back to his home to try and rescue his dead mother, who his father believes is trapped in her home, Ta-Lo, a mystical village. This movie is your typical action-packed Marvel movie mixed with mystical, magical elements that always keeps you on the edge of your seat. 

My favorite scenes in the movie were the martial arts fight scenes because who doesn’t like fighting in a Marvel movie. Shang-Chi’s father is dubbed the most powerful man in the world and trained his son to become a deadly assassin at the age of seven. Shang-Chi encounters various situations in which he is required to use his martial arts skills including a fight on a bus, a fight with his sister Xialing (a fellow martial artist), and a war against his father’s army. The choreography and special effects of these fight scenes brought the whole movie to life.

An aspect that I thought didn’t fit in well was the fantastical creatures and world that was created in Ta-Lo. The mystical creatures such as Morris (who is a combination of a headless chicken and a dog), dragons and a moving bamboo forest took away from the superhero, action feel of the movie. Some elements seemed too far-fetched and past the point of being believable which slightly took me out of the world that was created.

Another element that I really enjoyed, however, was the vast exploration of Chinese culture. Director Destin Daniel Cretton centered this movie around Asian Americans including lots of Chinese cultural details and highlighting the first Chinese American superhero. Qingming (Chinese Day of the Dead), the significance of names, cultural areas such as Chinatown San Francisco and apparel were all featured in this movie. In addition, a good portion of the movie’s dialogue is spoken in Mandarin with English subtitles.

The acting in this movie, like most other Marvel movies, was top-tier. Canadian actor Simu Liu (Shang-Chi) did a great job performing overall. Coming from a background of modeling for Stock Images, his acting was beyond professional. The film also used different actors to depict different stages of Shang-Chi’s and Xialing’s lives, which I thought added to the realism and storyline of the movie. 

Every Marvel movie typically ends with a grand fight scene, and this movie was no exception. After Shang-Chi’s father and his army invade Ta-Lo, Xialing, Shang-Chi and the rest of the Ta-Lo Army battle to ensure the safety of the mystical village. The combination of special effects, martial arts and nods of family conflict make these scenes the highlight of the movie. 

Overall, Shang-Chi was better than I had anticipated and certainly lives up to its 93 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. As someone who isn’t a superhero fanatic, nor read the Marvel comics, this movie satisfied my action and adventure movie criteria.

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