While everyone reels from the now officially released Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer, upcoming Marvel outing Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is preparing to hit theaters, and the reviews are now in. Currently sat at an enticing 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, critics are excitedly heaping praise on Shang-Chi, with many calling it one of the best standalone adventures in the MCU.
Our own Julian Roman called the movie “a stunning martial arts epic,” and praised practically evert facet of what director Destin Daniel Cretton has brought to the big screen.
“Director Destin Daniel Cretton has delivered an intimate story of a family reckoning with far reaching consequences. The fight scenes are exquisitely choreographed with amazing, visionary camera work. But the truly fantastic part is that behind the excellent filmmaking, action, and cutting-edge visual effects lies a dramatic core that deeply resonates.”
Many critics have commended the performance of Simu Liu as the movie’s lead, with Brian Truitt’s of USA Today describing the actor as “simply a joy to watch.”
“He’s the MCU’s most significant and infectious rookie since the late Chadwick Boseman [Black Panther] with the same face-of-the-franchise appeal as Chris Evans [Captain America].”
Peter Hartlaub of the San Francisco Chronicle was equally impressed with Shang-Chi’s first adventure saying, “At some point during one of the best car chase scenes in San Francisco movie history, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” makes at least one thing gloriously clear: Today, you will be getting your money’s worth at the movies.”
While perhaps not quite as enamoured, Laura Sirikul of Empire Magazine found much to enjoy despite some “pacing issues,” and ultimately felt that Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a step in the right direction, with the movie full of “funny and endearing moments amid beautifully choreographed action sequences.”
“Despite pacing issues, it delivers a hugely entertaining step in the right direction for Asian representation.”
Similarly, CNN’s Brian Lowry equally found the movie to be a positive experience in spite of a few shortcomings.
“Quibbles aside, “Shang-Chi” is another smartly calibrated extension of the Marvel stable amid its endeavors to become more diverse.”
Sadly, it’s not all good news, with Jake Cole of Slant Magazine finding Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings to be a disappointing, predictable blur.
“Even the most grounded choreography is plainly being aided by computer effects, and the chopped-up close-ups on the action consistently reduce the sparring characters to a blur. As per usual for the MCU, the final act devolves into loud and chaotic visual nonsense, with the Oedipal reckoning between Shang-Chi and Wenwu [Leung] giving way to an incomprehensible conflagration of magical beasts and largescale warfare that only further emphasizes the lack of interest that the film has in its ostensibly probing human drama.”
Continuing on the negative side of the critical spectrum, Jacob Oller of Paste Magazine rather cuttingly described the movie as being “as bland and busy as its title.”
“Shang-Chi can’t even keep its fights free from the MCU’s encroaching house style. Its final battle falls prey to the same collision between ambition and tradition that drags its narrative down. While Shang-Chi strives for unique, expressive, even impressively grotesque design for its creatures, critters, armor and weapons, it’s all blurred in a digital slurry under assault from the same kind of ill-defined flying critters that seem to plague every film in the MCU.”
While much of the criticism aimed at Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings refers to the its ties to the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe, many applauded the movie for managing to branch out from the franchise, often creating something that felt wholly its own. Justin Chang from The Los Angeles Times was one such critic who enjoyed Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings most when it left the MCU to the wayside.
“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is most enjoyable when it shakes off the tedious franchise imperatives and forges its own path. The movie’s late-breaking highlights include Michelle Yeoh’s performance as Ying Nan, a mentor figure to Shang-Chi and Xialing [Meng’er Zhang] who dispenses pearls of wisdom with customary poise and offers a warm counterweight to Leung’s brooding chill.”
In fact, even with the baggage of over a decade of Marvel movies behind it, Angie Han of the Hollywood Reporter felt that Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings broke through, bringing something “fresh” to the genre that has dominated cinema for so long.
“While its disparate elements don’t meld together as smoothly as they should, they do, in the end, add up to a superhero movie fresh and fun enough to feel worth a spin.”
The 25th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will introduce a newly undiscovered world of martial arts and magic in the MCU. Starring Simu Liu as the title character, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings picks up with the character ten years after running away from his father. Wanting to live a normal life, he is soon drawn back into his father’s clandestine Ten Rings organization, where he is forced to confront the past he thought he left behind.
Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton from a screenplay he wrote with David Callaham and Andrew Lanham, the movie also stars Awkwafina, Michelle Yeoh, Fala Chen, Meng’er Zhang, Florian Munteanu, and Ronny Chieng.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is scheduled to be released in the United States on September 3, as part of Phase Four of the MCU. Unlike Black Widow before it, the movie will make its MCU debut exclusively to theaters and not simultaneously on Disney+, it has now been confirmed. However, the Marvel outing will mark the studio’s first release with the now 45-day theatrical window in place, meaning that Disney will likely release Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings to their streaming platform and DVD/Blu-ray as soon as October 18.