Review: Shang-Chi and the Legend of The Ten Rings


(Jasin Boland/Marvel Studios/TNS)

Simu Liu in the Marvel Studios film, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.”

Mia Lin

[spoilers ahead]

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the first Marvel superhero action movie with an Asian-led cast, was released on Sept. 3, 2021 in theaters and Nov. 12 on Disney Plus. During this epic journey, Shang-Chi, the main character, is forced back into the past he escaped from. He and his sister Xialing face their father, who has the powerful Ten Rings, and finally meet the people of their mother’s village, who live in the mythical dimension of Ta Lo. They join the fight to defend the village from the soul-sucking evil creatures trapped behind the Dark Gate.

“I could have really used a hero like this,” Destin Daniel Cretton, the part-Japanese director of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings said in an interview with CNN. “Whose strength is found ultimately in his ability to look inside himself, to understand himself, to understand the good parts and the difficult parts, and the pain and the joyful memories.”

This astounding fantasy film received an incredible 92 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, 71 percent on Metacritic, and a 7.8/10 on IMDb.

“Beneath the beauty and the violence is a story about the ties between siblings, fatherly expectations, the modern world’s demands versus traditions and our own legacies,” Mark Kennedy, who gave the show a 3 out of 4 stars, said in the Associated Press.

Cretton knew it was important to create a superhero that kids similar to him would be able to look up to.

“I would have kicked myself if I didn’t at least try to be a part of that conversation; to create a character that a generation of kids who look like me, or have a similar cultural background as me, would be able to have something that I did not have as a kid,” Cretton said in an interview with CNN.

I love that this movie raises Asian American voices. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings makes me proud to be an Asian American and hopeful that diversity and awareness will spread throughout both film and real life. It’s outstanding that this movie is Asian-led, and I hope that many more will follow.

When Shang-Chi was announced as Marvel’s newest Avenger, excitement in the Asian American community grew. He would be the first Asian American to get his own Marvel movie. Even so, for some, it was still not enough.

“The superhero has been plagued by tropes that society still imposes on Asian Americans both in real life and in fiction—yellow peril [a racial color-metaphor that represents East and Southeast Asians as a danger to the Western world], kung fu master, etc.,” Shelly Tan said in The Washington Post.

Despite the common Asian tropes, in my opinion, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has impressive action scenes, especially the bus fight scene at the beginning of the movie, and great storytelling, making it a great Marvel movie. It’s filled with beautiful CGI, like when Shang-Chi’s father shows Shang-Chi, Kate and Xialing the water map and also when the two dragons fought during the final battle, and hilarious comedy. There were multiple moments of humor, including when Kate finds out that Shang-Chi changed his name from Shang-Chi to Shaun. She says it’s no wonder that his father found him so easily, to which Shang-Chi defensively explains that he was fifteen at the time. Awkwafina, the actor for Kate, did a great job adding loads of humor as the character constantly teased Shang-Chi about his name change. 

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is predictable at the end, and there are a few stereotypes. Shang-Chi’s father resembles the power-hungry Asian villain Fu Manchu, who’s based on a racist idea in Marvel’s original comic book. Even so, the choreography, martial arts and plot are outstanding. It’s an amazing movie. I recommend that everyone watch it if they haven’t already.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings isn’t entirely free of Marvel’s familiar formula, but this exciting origin story expands the MCU in more ways than one,” the Critics Consensus says on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings not only spreads awareness of the Asian American community and their voices but also of gender equality. Xialing’s just as powerful as Shang-Chi. She’s independent and doesn’t need her brother to be herself. Ying Li, Shang-Chi’s mother, defeated Xi Wenwu, Shang-Chi’s father, when they first met. Kate, despite just being introduced to the kung-fu world, was able to make a fatal blow to the evil dragon with a bow and arrow, changing the outcome of the battle. All of the women in this movie are just as self-sufficient and unique as the men, which is another reason you should watch Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

Hopefully, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a start of a new age for Asian Americans in film and television with recent movies with Asian-led casts like Squid Game, Crazy Rich Asians and The Farewell. Not only have these movies been hits with audiences, but they’re also critically-acclaimed. Parasite, a dark comedy thriller made in South Korea, won four Oscars and was the first foreign language film to win Best Picture. Awkwafina, who played Shang-Chi’s best friend Kate, was the first Asian American to win the Golden Globe Award for best actress in a musical or comedy. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is another step out of many recent steps in the right direction towards increasing diversity in film and television.