The review embargo has lifted for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, allowing critics and reviewers everywhere to officially publish their thoughts on the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s next feature.
It’s very good news. At the time of writing, the Simu Liu-starring picture has drawn up an impressive Rotten Tomatoes score of 92% with 89 reviews and counting. On Metacritic, the film currently has a less-impressive-but-still-very-good score of 70 with 31 critic reviews being counted.
There’s plenty of love being directed at the film, with the majority of critics praising the film’s balance of humour and heart, the impressive action sequences, and for managing to provide fans with a different flavour in the MCU. Also of note: how many were impressed with the performance by Tony Leung, who plays Shang-Chi’s father and the film’s villain, Wenwu.
Take a look at what’s being said – including a few of the not-so-great reviews – below.
The rest of us can decide for ourselves when Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton (Just Mercy, Short Term 12) and also starring Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, Florian Munteanu, Benedict Wong, Michelle Yeoh and Ronny Chieng, hits Australian cinemas on September 2nd and US cinemas on September 3rd.
Here’s a taste of the praise:
This film fits into Marvel packaging in its own way, but it has an immense soulfulness that other MCU movies, superhero movies, and action movies in general should take notes from.
Even though it doesn’t stick the landing, Shang-Chi is one of the better Marvel intros. Thor and Captain America both debuted in films less assured than this, and look how they developed. Shang-Chi would be a welcome addition to any future Marvel movie
With fun performances, varied action, plausible stakes, a sense of specificity and quite a few “not in the trailers” surprises, Shang-Chi is one of the better “part one” MCU solo origin story flicks thus far.
Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings isn’t the best Marvel movie ever, but it’s a really good one with excellent action scenes that sets up a fascinating corner of the world. It has the confidence to be its own thing when it could have easily leaned on the dozen movies before it.
Shang-Chi, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, attempts to shake up the Marvel formula by infusing it with martial-arts action and fairy-tale fantasy and grounding it in Chinese and Asian American culture. And while its disparate elements don’t meld together as smoothly as they should, they do, in the end, add up to a superhero movie fresh and fun enough to feel worth a spin.
Rife with tropes and archetypes and familiar beats that, more often than not, is wildly entertaining and a wholly energizing entry into the cookie-cutter world of the MCU.
A flashy, Asian-led visual effects extravaganza that gives the second-tier hero the same over-the-top treatment that big-timers like Hulk and Thor typically get. The result broadens the brand’s spectrum of representation once again, offering audiences of Asian descent the kind of empowerment for which “Black Panther” paved the way a few years back.
Director Destin Daniel Cretton skillfully connects Shang-Chi’s personal stakes with the larger MCU by way of an emotionally complex villain, a stellar cast with fantastic chemistry, and incredible action sequences.
What’s most notable here is that the film pretty much does everything well. The action is blistering and beautiful, the writing is as fun and hilarious as it is poignant and poetic. As an adventure movie, it hits you with thrills and surprises at almost every turn. And its themes—of generational dissonance, found identity, and forgiveness—are woven into the film elegantly.
It’s not all love, although those who didn’t like the film currently appear to be in the minority:
Despite hints of the interpersonal nuance Cretton brought to his indie work (best seen in 2013’s Short Term 12) lurking in a bulky script, recognizable elements of Asian action cinema struggling for breath under countless layers of digital sediment and one of our greatest living actors working wonders as its villain, Shang-Chi is as bland and busy as its title.
By the end of Shang-Chi, it’s clear that Marvel’s machinery has grander plans in mind for how this character, brought to life impressively by Liu, will fit into the larger, interconnected narrative. So it’s sad to see what could’ve been a rousing standalone finish its journey as little more than a pitstop to something much better.
Even the most grounded choreography is plainly being aided by computer effects, and the chopped-up close-ups on the action consistently reduce the sparring characters to a blur. As per usual for the MCU, the final act devolves into loud and chaotic visual nonsense.
The film is merely a placeholder to introduce a character to be later elaborated upon, peppered with the obligatory fights and VFX, thinly disguised as both a family drama and marketed as a landmark in the representation of Asian stories and performers on screen