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.