Review: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings doesn’t feel a lot like a Marvel movie, although it’s clearly been made on a Marvel budget. The picture is a lot of fun, even if it isn’t overflowing with the sort of slick comic banter that’s become a Marvel trademark. And since it’s based on a relatively obscure Marvel character (although one that’s had much involvement with the comic book Avengers over the last nearly 50 years), it feels fresh, and it’s exciting in a new way.
This is a credit to the story and script—both written by Japanese-American director Destin Daniel Cretton and Chinese-American screenwriter Dave Callaham—and to the film’s two leads: Simu Liu, a little-known Canadian actor, born in China, who plays Shang, and ageless Hong Kong eminence Tony Leung, one of the world’s great movie stars, who plays Shang’s dangerous dad, Wenwu. The picture would be worth seeing just to watch Leung command the screen every minute he’s on it.
Shang was originally conceived at Marvel as the son of the old pulp-fiction villain Fu Manchu, an emblem of “Yellow Peril” racism early in the last century. That connection wouldn’t fly today, so now Shang is presented as the son of an evil Chinese overlord, The Mandarin (Wenwu’s bad -guy handle), a character thousands of years old, who raises the boy to become an assa
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