Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings


Viewed – 16 November 2021 Disney+

The latest Marvel Cinematic Universe release follows the story of a Chinese warlord who comes into possession of ten magical rings (basically bangles) that once worn, grant him incredible powers. After conquering many kingdoms however, he falls for a woman and has two children. Years later in modern-day San Francisco, Shang-Chi is working as a valet parking attendant having turned his back on his father’s criminal empire – but when a threat to his life and that of his estranged sister arises, Shang-Chi chooses to use his martial arts skills to survive.

A convoluted plot sets up this fantastical tale, steeped in Chinese mythology, and delivers a fun if lightweight Marvel blockbuster. Hong Kong Cinema veteran Tony Leung provides the villain and is certainly a presence, stealing most scenes he’s in. We also get an appearance from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’s Michelle Yeoh. What let this down though is the exhaustive over-reliance on CGI and green screen, creating a look and feel to everything that is very fake and a bit video-gamey. A set-piece on a bus, which should be exhilarating just looked ‘off’, with a particularly dodgy looking CGI bus. The way everyone jumps around, with frequent sped up movements (rather than genuine martial arts) also made many involved look a bit rag doll-like.

Newcomer Simu Liu proved a charismatic lead however and Awkwafina (memorable also in Jumanji 2) was a fun side-kick. The nods to other entries in the MCU were also appreciated. So yes, I was entertained, and the story was functional enough, even if ‘the big bad’ at the end was a bit ‘meh’. Not essential then, but worthwhile for MCU die-hards and anyone stuck for something to watch.

Verdict: Good

Morgan


Viewed – 07 February 2017  online rental

A corporate risk management consultant (Kate Mara) is called to a secluded research facility after a top secret test subject attacks a doctor, leaving her blinded in one eye.  Said test subject turns out to be an artificially engineered young girl.  Was her actions a one-off or is she dangerous?

Morgan

Immediately this brought back memories of movies like Ex Machina and Splice and is always for me a fascinating subject.  Mara plays the stiff collared consultant called in and she’s one of those actress’s I’ve become increasingly aware of, following memorable turns in House of Cards and Gone Girl.  Although I’ve seen her as a much more feisty presence … she handled herself well enough here even if her particular casting didn’t seem all that suited.  However the fairly new to the scene Anya Taylor-Joy (who I recognised from The Witch) impressed much more and delivered a nuanced and layered turn as Morgan, keeping this viewer guessing on how things might turn out.  The concept although familiar was fairly well delivered and support cast was adequate, bar a scene stealing Paul Giammati (who come on, is always a scene stealer). 

As an observation on artificial life forms and with a smattering of action (with some rather impressive fight choreography) and a bit of horror, this made for enjoyable, if lightweight entertainment.  It certainly hasn’t as much to say on the subject as similar movies… but still managed to surprise, especially with that ending.

Verdict:  3 /5