“Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings”  joins the Marvel Universe with thrilling action sequences. PHOTO CREDIT: Wikipedia

“Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings” is an intriguing, yet derivative, action fantasy that incorporates enough charismatic performances and well-choreographed action sequences to make up for its predictable and overblown third act. 

The Daniel Destin Cretton-directed superhero flick is the latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and follows parking attendant Shang-Chi, who has to face his past after his immortal father tracks him and his friend Katy in San Francisco. 

From the opening narration, “Shang-Chi” proves to be a more authentic Chinese fantasy by letting its core performers speak Chinese with subtitles than what Disney’s done in the past with last year’s live-action “Mulan.” The action sequences in the films are also the perfect blend of classic kung fu with some classic Marvel superhero sequences thrown in. What really makes the action sequences stand out is their clear style and lack of quick cutting, which allows the audience to truly feel for the characters during these moments. 

“Shang-Chi” does suffer from following too close to the safe Marvel formula, where we have to constantly stop the pace of the film to learn more about Shang-Chi and his family’s past. Actor Simu Liu is pretty charismatic as the title character and shares some good chemistry with Awkwafina as the comic relief best friend Katy. The supporting performances from Tony Leung, Michelle Yeoh and Fala Chen are all very good, with Leung being one of the better recent villains in Marvel’s library as Shang-Chi’s father Wen Wu. 

Nearly all of the characters are given just enough backstory and good dialogue to make up for the otherwise predictable story. While the film’s humor does feel forced at times, “Shang-Chi” moves forward at a very brisk pace as the characters travel from San Francisco to China and eventually the mystical world of Ta-Lo. Every design and idea within the world of Ta-Lo is very well thought out and colorful enough to really contrast the first half of the film.

Nothing in the film feels especially forced and all the character motivations are well incorporated into the film’s story. Once an especially humorous and elongated cameo appears in the film, Shang-Chi finds its comedic rhythm very well while never forgetting its true plot about Shang Chi’s father trying to break into the world of Ta-Lo for a specific purpose. The true problems with the film come forward in its third act because there is far too much CGI and mystical elements to keep track of in the last fight sequence.

Nearly all of the unique style is gone in the film’s final action sequence because there has to be a battle between mythical creatures, dragons and warriors in order for the Marvel formula to feel complete. In its two post-credit scenes, “Shang-Chi” does bring up some interesting ideas for future Marvel films, so stick around if you end up seeing the film. 

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is a unique and visually interesting Marvel film that simply sticks to the formula too much to really stand out beyond the action. 6.5 out of 10.