Following Black Widow, Marvel introduced new characters to its cinematic universe with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Does this origin story meet the challenge? Critical.
Mandarin enters the MCU, the real one. After being played by Ben Kingsley, the comic book character offers himself a new foray on the big screen under the guise of Tony Leung Chiu-Wai. With Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings, Marvel wants to blow some fresh air on a saga that seems to be coming to an end. Will the idea house return to box office elegance?
In San Francisco, Shang-Chi lives a peaceful life with his friend Katy. But when the mysterious organization of the ten rings begins to chase him, the young man must confront his family legacy and reconnect with a past he wants to forget. He is the son of Mandarin
The MCU’s Phase 4 launch didn’t come without pitfalls. While the pandemic has forced darkrooms to close their doors, the idea house should fully review its program. Staggered by more than a year, Black Widow hasn’t quite the successful reunion it hoped for. The Venom 2 feature film reflects an age-old recipe for Marvel, which is struggling to reinvent itself. While some of Marvel’s upcoming films have caught the attention of moviegoers, like Doctor Strange 2 or Spider-Man 3, there’s no denying that there’s a general feeling of tiredness among House of Ideas fans. It is in this post-pandemic context that Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings land, most of which are designed to tempt Asian audiences. Disney is also not the first product of its kind, we remember the very average Mulan.
But Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings have a definite advantage over the Disney princess adventures: the unprecedented nature of the plot and the potential gateways that can be created with Iron Man 3. Because if this is the first time the power of the ten rings (an important plot element) from comics with Tony Stark) explored on the big screen, Mandarin has appeared in Shane Black’s films. In 2013, it was Ben Kingsley who played him in the third installment of the Iron Man adventures. An exploit that hasn’t really convinced fans of the characters on glossy paper. As a reminder, Aldrich Killian used this legendary figure to develop his Extremis project. The Mandarin that appeared on the screen was therefore just a trick.
In Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings, things are different. Mandarin is a legendary figure who has made it rain and shine around the world for centuries. The plot explores through this bias the ideas of filiation and inheritance, the soup we often have in the house of ideas, in Black Panther or Thor to name a few. However, in its introduction, Daniel Cretton’s Destiny film manages to make some splashes. Effectively, the first part of the film seems to break away from Marvel’s highly codified recipe and lay the groundwork for an innovative and ambitious universe. If we can’t escape the sometimes-heavy genre production jokes, the path is rather fluid.
Shang-Chi falls back into the house of ideas, for whom superheroes too often rhyme with sound and light shows in CGI. If it were far from destructive, we would have liked the filmmakers to push the novelty cursor a little further. The scenario suffers from several flaws and fails to surprise every time. However, when he explores the relationships between characters, he is quite convincing.
Destin Daniel Cretton’s inspiration is overwhelming. In its form, this film intends to pay homage to martial arts films, as evidenced by the presence of Michelle Yeoh (Tiger and Dragon) in the cast. The director loves directing the action and it shows. Efficient and stunningly choreographed, the hand-to-hand sequences are undoubtedly the strength of this film. Even if Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings sometimes abuse slow motion, Cretton and his creativity give us a fun, unhindered feature film that gives the MCU color.
He also films with great ease the urban setting, which becomes the scene of spectacular and dizzying clashes. On the other hand, when the film explores a remote area in a small Chinese village, things get a little complicated. The ubiquitous digital effects make things a little more impersonal, and that feeling is amplified by the photography, calibrated to stick to the MCU’s visual identity.
In front of the camera, Marvel urges some of the rising stars on the small screen, starting with Awkwafina, to always top the list. The actress and rapper offers a fine counterbalance to the character Shang-Chi and the duo she plays with Simu Liu explodes on screen. the last oner delivers muscular performance up to a challenge. It uses all the physique required for this type of production, without neglecting the plot and challenges. Several figures of the 7th art symbol were also present, starting with Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Michelle Yeoh, who lived up to their reputation.
After a rather disappointing previous feature film, the idea house managed to reinvent itself a bit with Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings. The first film since the start of the pandemic to be fully screened in theaters worldwide, Daniel Cretton’s Destin feature film has all the keys to winning at the international box office.