'Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings': Movie Review
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SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS is a comical action entry in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and introduces a Chinese superhero who must use 10 powerful arm rings to fend off a horde of demonic creatures his father accidentally unleashes on his mother’s hidden village. SHANG-CHI is a satisfying, funny superhero movie with lots of exciting action, but it does have some foul language, scary monsters, action violence, and fantasy concepts that warrant caution for younger moviegoers.
The movie opens by showing how Shang-Chi’s father, Wenwu, met his mother, Jiang Li. For 1,000 years after finding the 10 rings of power, Wenwu greedily pursued power. In Ancient China, he created a large army to conquer territory. In modern times, he leads a criminal organization called The 10 Rings. Thirty years ago, Wenwu went searching for the legendary, hidden city of Ta Lo, which guards a land of mythical beasts. On reaching the entrance to the city, however, Wenwu meets Jiang Li, the female guardian of the entrance. She refuses to let him pass, and the two engage in an elaborate martial arts fight where Li is an equal match for Wenwu. In fact, their fighting becomes more like a beautiful dance, and the two clearly fall in love. Li decides to return with Wenwu to his world, where she gives birth to two children, a boy named Shang-Chi (pronounced “Shawng-Chee”) and a younger sister, Xialing (“Cheye-ling”).
Cut to present-day San Francisco. For some reason, Shang-Chi has run away from his father and taken the name Shaun. He works as a lowly parking valet and has become friends with Katy, a friendly, funny Chinese-American woman who works as a bus driver. However, one day, his father sends some thugs to take the pendant that Shang-Chi’s mother gave him. He’s able to fend them off in a terrific action sequence, but, in the end, they get the pendant.
Shang-Chi reveals his true identity to Katy. He says his father trained him to be an assassin, then, when he was 14, ordered him to kill a rival. Shang-Chi decided to run away and hide from in father in America. That’s why he’s happy doing such a low-level job as a parking valet.
Shang-Chi is worried his father will send his minions after his sister, Xialing. He locates her in Macao, where she runs a large underground fight ring. Katy goes with him to Macao, but, after a scene where his sister forces him to fight her, more thugs from their father appear. Eventually, they take the pendant Xialing is wearing too. They also kidnap Katy, Shang-Chi and Xialing and take them to her father.
When they get to the father’s compound, they learn that the father thinks he hears the voice of his late wife telling him that their aunt, who lives in Ta Lo, is holding her spirit prisoner. The father intends to use the pendants to locate the village, kill everyone there and free his wife’s spirit.
Shang-Chi, Zialing and Katy escape the compound and try to beat the father to the village so they can stop him. When they get there, they learn that the voice the father hears is the voice of a soul-eating demonic creature that the villagers trapped years ago. The creature is deluding the father so that he will accidentally release the creature and his soul-eating minions.
Can the village and the three heroes stop the deluded father and the demonic monsters? Will Shang-Chi reconcile with his father?
SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS is a funny, exciting superhero movie that’s more of a fantasy than the science fiction superhero movies Marvel has been making up to now. Thus, there is a mythical village with mythological beasts and demonic soul-eating monsters. However, the power of the 10 rings remains a mystery. So, there’s a chance that future Marvel movies will reveal that the power of the rings is technological rather than supernatural. Be that as it may, the Eastern monk who worked with Dr. Strange in three previous Marvel movies appears in this movie too and uses his supernatural occult powers.
Despite the supernatural fantasy elements in SHANG-CHI, the movie has some strong moral, redemptive themes and metaphors. For example, the movie has a metaphorical baptism and allegorical death and resurrection. Also, the heroes eventually must fight and overcome demonic soul-eating monsters. Finally, the movie promotes sacrifice, reconciliation and family. However, SHANG-CHI also has some foul language and lots of action violence with scary monsters and scary moments.
All in all, therefore, MOVIEGUIDE® advises serious caution for impressionable children.
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