The second film in the fourth phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS brings a breath of fresh air to classic studio feature films.
Since Black panther (2018), Marvel Studios came up with films that were undoubtedly thrilling and addicting, but sadly not always innovative. Locked in a story arc that started in 2008 with Iron man, the franchise was clearly struggling to renew itself … But it was before the passage on the small screen that allowed the distribution of the nugget Wandavision (2020). The latter, as well as the other Marvel series, has certainly made it possible to make the public wait for the resumption of feature films, but it has also fueled the impatience and expectations of viewers regarding them. Except that with the recent disappointment of Black widow (2021), Marvel studios really seemed to be at the end of their rope regarding their film production… Until the arrival Simu liu in the franchise with the character of Shang-Chi who may have become synonymous with the beautiful surprises to come.
In Marvel’s drawers since the 1980s, SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS is undoubtedly the surprise of this end of summer. Shang-Chi, embodied by Simu liu, leads a quiet life in San Francisco until one day his past catches up with him. His father (the iconic Tony Leung), whom he thought he had fled, finally found him and he finds himself confronting the latter who is none other than the leader of the terrorist group The Ten Rings. With such a poor and unoriginal synopsis, it was hard not to be afraid of this new Marvel movie. With a new origin story rather bland, the studios continued to stagnate a story that has not seen any real development since Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019). But that was without counting on the many strengths of the film. Far from being a conventional origin story, the film allows a dive into Asian culture with a tribute to martial arts that renews the action scenes to which Marvel studios had accustomed us.
First of all, SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS allows to make an interesting walkway with Iron man 3 since Tony Leung now embodies the ” true »Mandarin after identity theft of Ben kingsley. The latter, as a ridiculous actor, provides some comic scenes that we would not have suspected. But the real asset of the film remains the duo between Awkwafina (Katy) and Simu liu. Marvel Studios had already accustomed their audiences to the style of buddy movie (we think of the recent Falcon) as well as feature films mixing action, emotion and humor. This cocktail is also what partly makes the success of the franchise. But despite this comical lightness, the relationship between the two characters is brought with a certain heaviness. Finally, the charm is not in the collective but in the individuality of each protagonist. Director Destiny Daniel Cretton having succeeded in not locking them into a conventional superficiality and on the contrary offers fascinating characters.
Tony Leung, who plays Xu Wenwu (or the Mandarin), is also one of the few villains in the franchise to break free from the simple dichotomy between good and evil. Where many antagonists sought only power, success and authority, Tony Leung succeeds in humanizing a villain who is ultimately only a man devastated by the mourning of his wife. And “What is grief, if not love persevering? “ Alongside the actor, we also meet Michelle yeoh (Tiger and dragon) which completes the tribute paid to martial arts films. Moreover, the hand-to-hand combat sequences constitute the great strength of the film. From the first Iron Man, Marvel Studios films have plunged into a form of militarization that sometimes borders on excess. SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS manages to bring a breath of fresh air with its action scenes even if we can regret the sometimes excessive use of digital special effects.
Very clearly, SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS is not perfect. The use of digital is not always in the best taste and the soundtrack unfortunately has nothing to do with the incredible music of Black panther. Nevertheless, the film is no less promising. With a origin story entertaining and innovative fight sequences, SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS Brings new life to Marvel Studios that seemed to be already exhausted before they even actually entered Phase Four of their Cinematic Universe.
Original title : Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
• Production : Destiny Daniel Cretton
• Actors: Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Yeoh
• Release date : September 1, 2021
• Duration : 132 minutes