Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Writer: Dave Callaham, Destin Daniel Cretton and Andrew Lanham
Starring: Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, Florian Munteanu, Michelle Yeoh, Tony Leung, Ben Kingsley, and Benedict Wong
Shang-Chi, created by comic legends Steve Engleheart and Jim Starlin (co-creator of Thanos and Drax), has been brought to the big screen as the next instalment to the biggest franchise of all time, the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After the long awaited and very underwhelming Black Widow, it’s glad to see a great Marvel film on the big screen after what feels like an insanely long time.
Shaun (Simu Liu) is living in San Francisco, working as a valet his best friend Katy (Awkwafina). After being attacked on the bus to work one day, Shaun’s pendant is stolen and he is forced to face his past, admitting to Katy that he isn’t the person she thinks he is.
One of the best things about Shang-Chi is how well it develops and expands the Marvel universe. It ties itself in with the pre-established foundation and builds on that, making the film feel vital and not a side-episode like Ant-Man and the Wasp. The mythical place of Ta Lo is beautiful and we can only hope we will get to see more of it in the future.
Like anything Marvel touches, the effects are fantastic. Everything looks gorgeous, but would you expect anything less from them? Visually the film is stunning, the special effects and CGI are the best they can be and at this point it would be weird if they weren’t. The mythical creatures look real and absolutely nothing in the film looks out of place.
The performances are great. Simu Liu as Xu Shang-Chi/Shaun is a perfect casting role. He’s full of charisma with the goofy character he portrays at the beginning while also being completely believable as a hero. Meng’er Zhang is excellent as Xu Xialing, the menacing rope dart wielding hero.
The action and choreography is fantastic. Every fight sequence is stunning, exhilarating, and exciting. They are really shot so the action is always clear and the one-on-one fight sequences are full of tension that grabs you and doesn’t let go. The big battle at the end is also grand in scale and feels epic when you’re watching it on screen. Michelle Yeoh is great, as always in the fight sequences.
There is a lot of great comedy in the film. Every line spoken by Ben Kingsley is funny. His relationship with Morris is brilliant and one of the highlights of the film. The same with Katy (Awkwafina), a brilliant funny character that plays a vital role in the final events of the film and isn’t just left to the side as comic relief.
By the time the final battle is starting, it barely feels like any time has past since the film started. The whole story flies by without any boring moments. The pacing is brilliant with exciting scene and moment happening one after another.
Shang-Chi is the best Marvel film in a very long time. It introduces brilliant new characters, ties it in with the expansive universe without relying on cameos or a larger threat. It’s the most exciting solo Marvel film since Black Panther and it looks like there’s no sign of slowing down with the glimpses of the future in the post credit scenes (The mid-credit scene is worth waiting for, the actual post credit one, not so much).