REVIEW | Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings


Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings is one of the rare instances updating the source material for the big screen works. The martial arts superhero Shang-Chi came at a time when Kung-Fu movies were a thing in the 70s. This prompted Marvel Comics to publish their own and integrate it with another licensed property, Fu Manchu, a popular villain that has appeared in several movies and novels. Shang-Chi, dubbed as Master of Kung-Fu, was the son of the supervillain, but his father’s name was eventually retconned in the 80s when Marvel Comics decided not to renew the rights to Fu Manchu.

It is amazing that Marvel Studios still honors the character’s comics origin by making the Mandarin Shang-Chi’s father. The Mandarin, in the comics, was primarily an Iron Man villain, who was powered by the so-called Ten Rings of Power from a dragon-like alien race. The studio attempted to introduce the Mandarin in Iron Man 3 but what we only got was an actor who was only using his notoriety to bring terror to the U.S. Government. If you missed Ben Kingsley’s Tom Slattery, you might have a good time seeing him again in this movie.

Now, enter Tony Leung’s Xu Wenwu, who brings depth to the mysterious founder of the Ten Rings. Although he shows disdain towards the name Mandarin, MCU’s version is a sympathetic one - a father blinded by grief. Leung’s performance in the movie is memorable but sadly short-lived. Why great villains don’t remain long in the Marvel Cinematic Universe puzzles me.

Simu Liu knows the assignment. He has the acting chops - no pun intended - and the physical skills needed for the role. Not to mention, he is a great marketer too of the movie on Twitter, who even shunned naysayers using his own stock photo when he was still incognito.

Chinese actress Meng'er Zhang is also awesome as Xu Xialing, Shang-Chi’s estranged sister. Her subplot where women are looked down on by their Chinese fathers reflects what happens in traditional Asian households.

I could not say the same thing about Awkwafina’s Katy. For me, her character was the weakest part of the movie. Learning archery in a short time and eventually taking down a monster was a bit ridiculous and affected the believability of the movie. Even Kate Bishop from the Hawkeye series had to train and compete throughout her childhood. 

All in all, Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Rings is a great addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, highlighting not only Asian martial arts but also its culture and artistry. While wrapping up the Mandarin’s story, there is still room to explore in Shang-Chi’s mythos which includes the origin of the Ten Rings and the future of its eponymous assassin’s league.

The verdict: 8 out 10

Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings  is now showing in the Philippines.