Shang Chi is Legendary

Zeny Tran

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Father and son clash in Marvel’s Shang-Chi which has earned over $200 million in the US since its release on September 3 (Courtesy of Marvel Studios)

Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, one of the most highly anticipated movies of the year, was historic in many ways. It is a movie about the first ever Asian superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This film does an excellent job of portraying Asians in the entertainment industry, and is a major step toward seeing more Asian representation on the big screen. Not only is the movie filled with tremendous action and emotion, but it also features a fantastic cast that is able to express the story with a wonderful performance.

Going deeper into the movie, Shang-Chi is the MCU’s twenty-fifth superhero film. It is the most recent addition to the Marvel film franchise, following in the footsteps of previous comic-book films that provided a vision and went on to become standards. This film, on the other hand, fits into the Marvel universe in its own unique way and offers a remarkable amount of emotion that other MCU films, superhero films, and action films in general should take note.

The film begins in ancient China, when the power hungry Xu Wenwu (played by Tony Chiu-Wai Leung) discovers the magical ten rings which gives him superhuman powers. Wenwu creates the Ten Rings, a vigilante organization that overthrows governments through the ages. Eventually, Wenwu and his wife, Ying Li (played by Fala Chen) will give birth to a son, Shang-Chi (Simu Liu), and a daughter, Xialing (Meng’er Zhang). Wenwu forces his son to become a martial arts expert through rigorous discipline. After undergoing a life-changing experience, Shang-Chi becomes alienated from his father and flees to modern day San Francisco.

In the original Marvel comic, Shang-chi’s father was called Fu Manchu, an evil criminal overlord, with a distinct narrow mustache whose ends droop down to the chin. Marvel executives feared a strong backlash from the Asian-American community regarding the history of racist stereotypes surrounding this character and replaced Fu Manchu with Xu Wenwu.

Shang-Chi has not been released in China, where foreign films must be approved by the Chinese government. Deadline Hollywood, an entertainment industry insider, reported that in 2017, lead actor, Simu Liu referred to China as a “third world country.” These comments and China’s moves towards restricting American films in China, might mean that Shang-Chi will never be released in China. Shang-Chi has grossed over $10M in Korea, $5M in Japan, and over $16M in the UK.

This film… is a major step toward seeing more Asian representation on the big screen”

As someone who has seen the film in the theater, I believe it is well worth the price of admission. The film itself was beautifully directed by Destin Daniel Cretton and was genuinely a cinematic masterpiece, particularly in terms of visual effects and sound. The lead actors in particular, Simu Liu, Tony Leung, and Awkwafina (as Katy), did an excellent job of conveying the plot and feelings, making it a roller coaster of emotions. The movie teases at a possible romance emerging between Shang-Chi and Katy, which adds more heart to this historic superhero movie. Rating: 4.5/5 stars