Marvel Comics has a vast array of series ranging in topic and genre. But for casual or new fans to “superhero movies,” some of these shifts in the genre may be lost under the banner of Marvel Cinematic Universe. In 2021, Marvel released “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the 10 Rings,” an introduction to their 1973 character of the same name from the series “Master of Kung Fu.” Much like the series, this new film draws inspiration from; Shang-Chi is more of a Martial Arts film than what some would call a “typical superhero film.” But does this genre shift make the latest MCU film worth watching?
This latest MCU film follows a young man named Shang-Chi, who is on the run from a dangerous past. His father is the leader of the organization called “The Ten Rings.” MCU fans will recognize that name as the organization led by “The Mandarin” in Iron Man 3. However, unlike the disappointing revelation of Iron Man 3, the leader of the actual Army of the Ten Rings is very much a foe not to be taken easy. Shang must join forces with friends, lost family, and a people he thought only to be fairy tales to defeat the villain and a mysterious dark force.
Simu Liu does a great job with his role as Shang-Chi. He and fellow co-star Awkwafina (Katy) do a great job of bringing the familiar Marvel humor while also tackling the more serious portions of the story. However, the Kung-fu Hustle – Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon – IP Man-styled action scenes separate this film from previous MCU films. Bringing in exceptional talent like Tony Chiu Wai Leung (Infernal Affairs Series / The Grand Master), Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon | Master Z), and others gave this film a lot of martial arts magic.
Graphically the film was up to the standard that MCU fans expect. From image quality to color grade, the film was beautiful to watch. The action sequences were very well crafted. There was just the right mixture of practical martial arts with the fantastical martial arts you’d expect from classic Kung Fu films. At no point did characters feel rubbery when CGI sequences were required, and the CGI’d elements felt natural. Part of this film takes place in a different universe where much of the lore of Chinese Culture is suggested to have been originated. As such, you had DiJiang, Fenghuang, Huli Jing, Shishi, and a Dragon (we know it was a dragon because it didn’t do that tongue thing). While composed of CGI, these fantastic creatures felt natural to the world created for us in Shang-Chi. Not just that, many had a personality of their own within the film instead of being just static backdrops for the film.
This film lives up to the Marvel standard as far as its appropriateness for families. While violent at times, it’s not gruesome and unnecessary. However, it does have several curse words used throughout the film, mainly in quick passing moments. Therefore, I would say that it was mild to moderate. As far as sexuality, I’d venture to say that it was non-existent.
So is this Martial Arts Genre-styled MCU film worth watching? Absolutely! The film hooks you with its fast-paced action, fascinating story, and beautiful graphics from the word go. I’d venture to that it may be my favorite MCU film in the last several years. So for us here at Geek Devotions, we give this film a 4.5 Rings out of 5.