Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is finally almost here. The Marvel superhero film features Simu Liu (who clarified how to correctly pronounce his and his character's names) as the titular Shang-Chi, alongside Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Awkwafina, Meng'er Zhang, and Michelle Yeoh. The action flick will make history as the first Asian-led Marvel installment, featuring Shang-Chi, a skilled martial artist who was trained at a young age to be an assassin by his father, Wenwu (Leung). But when he is drawn into the Ten Rings organization, he’s forced to confront the past he thought he left behind.
The highly anticipated next installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe releases exclusively in theaters (NOT on Disney+, which has been a highly controversial decision) on September 3rd. We already saw critics' reactions to the blockbuster on social media, and now the review embargo has lifted. Let’s take a look at what critics are saying.
We’ll start with the home team, like usual. CinemaBlend’s Eric Eisenberg really enjoyed Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, rating it 3.5 out of 5 stars. He commended many aspects of the superhero flick, such as Simu Liu’s performance as the titular Shang-Chi and Awkwafina’s role. He also highly praised the remarkable fight sequences and set pieces, noting that they “feel like magic.” But while Eisenberg enjoyed the film overall, he still had criticisms. His main note was that the best parts of the movie are the more intimate aspects, but those get overshadowed by the traditional fantasy Marvel spectacle, which dulls the impact. He said:
Kate Erbland from IndieWire also highly praised Shang-Chi, while also noting that the film was hindered by the necessity to check some boxes as an MCU origin story, with little wiggle room. She commended the “awe-inspiring” fight sequences, choreographed by second unit director Brad Allan, who sadly passed away earlier this month. She argued that the blockbuster showcases the best action of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Simu Liu’s and Awkwafina’s performances were also highly praised by Erbland, as well as Meng’er Zhang. She noted that part of the film is too bogged down by exposition and familiar beats, but remains enjoyable, saying:
Angie Han from The Hollywood Reporter really enjoyed the action set pieces and cinematography that perfectly frames them, but she had some criticisms. She argued that the plot is overstuffed with exposition and side-plots that kept getting side-lined. She also thought Shang-Chi himself got lost in the frantic plotting, though Leung’s Wenwu was a breath of fresh air as a “rare supervillain with a soul.” While Han argued that the film couldn’t break the Marvel mold completely, it’s still worth checking out, saying:
Justin Chang from the Los Angeles times also commented on Tony Leung’s performance as Wenwu, whom Chang considers the star of the movie. He thought Leung moved through the frame with grace and magnetized the camera by hardly moving at all. He also enjoyed the action of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, though he noted that it was too CG-polished. Chang considers the original aspects of the blockbuster the best parts, when it tries to shake off the franchise necessities, but ultimately it has to fit within the Marvel universe. He still enjoyed the film, noting:
Amelia Emberwing of WhatToWatch considers Shang-Chi truly special. She also praised the “incredible” Leung, as well as the performances of Liu (whom she thought was made for the role of the titular character), Zhang, and Awkwafina. She also applauded the fight sequences, as well as the direction by Cretton and cinematography by Bill Pope. Emberwing noted that the only real weakness of the superhero flick is the heavy use of flashbacks, which are sometimes too clunky. But she overall really enjoyed the next installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, saying:
It would seem that critics have somewhat mixed opinions of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The epic action seems to be enjoyed across the board, but will audiences feel the same way? We'll soon find out, when the Marvel flick debuts in theaters on Friday, September 3.
You can also check out what else is slated for Phase Four of the MCU with our release guide.
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