Review: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Hannah Bickom, Staff Writer

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is the newest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It premiered on August 16, 2021, and has earned a total of 360 million dollars in the box office globally as of September 26. 

In the movie, Sean (Simu Liu) is the son of Xu Wenwu (Tony Chiu-Wai Leung), the bearer of the all-powerful Ten Rings who has conquered worlds for centuries. After Sean and his friend, Katy (Awkwafina), are ambushed by his father’s soldiers, Sean and Katy are forced to travel to Macau to reunite with Sean’s sister, Xialing (Meng’er Zhang). From there, the group learns that Xu Wenwu plans to attack Ta-Lo, the homeland of his late wife, Sean’s mother. Wenwu believes that his wife is being held captive behind the gate which the people of Ta-Lo guard. In reality, this gate guards the ancient creature known as the Dweller, who is fueled by stolen souls. Together, Sean, Xialing, and Katy travel to Ta-Lo to help the people there stop Xu Wenwu, and to fight the Dweller after it is released from the gates. 

The movie has a compelling story and a meaningful theme about not being afraid to reach your full potential. Kate and Sean begin the story as valets who believe they have peaked in high school. Throughout the story, both characters learn to be confident in their own skills and acquire new ones. This theme represents a common arc in Marvel movies where the character becomes more assured in themselves in order to complete their harrowing task. Shang-Chi stands out by going more in-depth with this idea and visually showing the change in Sean and Katy’s characters. 

All of the actors were exceptional in their roles. Simu Liu created a character that is both powerful and easy to root for. Awkwafina also showed talent as her character, Katy. When the character was first introduced, I worried she would become a pointless comedic relief character. However, Katy held a lot of importance in the story and helped to make the movie authentic and entertaining. I especially enjoyed the relationship between Katy and Sean in the film. 

“Shang-Chi” is filled with fast-paced and well choreographed action scenes. The scene where Sean and Katy get ambushed in the beginning of the movie was one of my personal favorite scenes because of its ability to introduce both Sean’s strength and humanity through a captivating battle. The last fight scene of the movie was also epic, and the build up to it added authenticity to the story. The movie tied into the larger MCU nicely through the post-credit scene. 

My main criticism of this movie was that at times it felt predictable. Because there are already many movies in the MCU which serve a similar purpose to “Shang-Chi” (introducing a new character and their respective plotline into the Marvel Universe), it is almost inevitable to have elements of the movie which feel used and unoriginal. For the most part, “Shang-Chi” managed to separate itself from other Marvel movies before it, but there were still moments which felt extremely similar to moments in other movies, particularly “Thor: Ragnorok” and “Captain Marvel.”  

Overall, the movie serves as an adequate addition to the Marvel CInematic Universe, and brings hope for the success of Marvel’s Phase 4. This is a good movie for both Marvel enthusiasts and those who don’t know much about the MCU but still would like to see some great action scenes and heartfelt storylines. I am excited to see how Sean, Katy, and Xialing are incorporated into future Marvel movies.