SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS Review: Marvel's Journey into the Martial Arts Genre is so Wonderful


Unless you're an avid Marvel comic book reader you may have never heard of Shang-Chi. In the comics universe he is the Master of Kung-Fu and is a character based on the legendary martial artist Bruce Lee. 

In the new Marvel Studios film SHANG-CHI, a lot has been taken from the martial arts genre of the past and influence from these types of movies are sprinkled into the movie. So if you're a fan of martial arts, you are in for a wonderful movie experience. 

There is a father and son story at the center of this film. Wenwu is the wielder of the mystical and powerful ten rings of power. But these are not that same ten rings comic book fans know as they have been adapted to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They are not worn on each finger and are instead worn on each wrist/forearm; five to a side. When Wenwu is shown using the power of the ten rings it is a fantastic visual experience as seen in the trailers and TV spots. It's new, it's unique, and they are most definitely very powerful. However, not much is told about the origin of the ten rings and that remains a mystery even through the end of the film. Surely, the mystery surrounding them will be a ongoing subplot explored as the MCU moves forward through Phase 4. 

But back to Wenwu. He is the film's villain. A reimagining of The Mandarin from the comics and he is presented in a way that many will connect with, and empathize with him. His mission, when we meet him in present day, is one driven by love and passion for his family. 

Shang-Chi is the son of Wenwu, who trained him to become an unstoppable force. Yet, when we meet Shang-Chi in present day he is not the badass martial artist you would expect. But only for a little bit. When he gets attacked on a bus he lets loose and it is one of the most thrilling action pieces in the entire movie with the fight sequence being one that has yet to be seen in the MCU so far as fans have yet to see true martial arts hand-to-hand and weapons combat. Fans of the martial arts genre should all be smiling for this bus scene and throughout the rest of the movie. I know I was and I am a big fan of the genre, specifically from the 70s and 80s film offerings.

As I said, the heart of the story is father and son, yet it does go beyond that so I will let you go on that journey when you see it in the theater. Also, look for surprises throughout as there is one that will not be spoiled here so you can get as big of a smile on your face as I did when it was revealed. 

The third act of the film definitely goes big and leans hard into a blend of fantasy with a dash of horror. This isn't something too scary for kids since we are talking about a Marvel Studios and Disney product, but I was shocked at the addition of what can be seen as some slightly scary elements for younger kids toward the end. 

All-in-all I was pleasantly surprised with SHANG-CHI. Yes, it is another superhero origin movie, but one that was bright with colors, packed with fast martial arts fighting, and just an overall wonderful addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I enjoyed this origin film more so than recent origin movie CAPTAIN MARVEL, but again I have a bias being a martial arts genre fan. 

While the film will not be available on Disney+ Premier Access until 45 days after its theatrical release, this is most definitely a movie worthy of heading out to your local theater to experience it on the big screen instead of at home. It is fast-paced fun worth getting back into the theater experience to see it.

Written by Daniel Wolf, Founder & Publisher