After about two years of famine, the release calendar The Marvel movies (between TV shows and cinema releases) of this 2021 is certainly very crowded, with the mammoth production led by Kevin Feige that grinds stories after stories to start the path and consolidate the path of Phase 4 post-Endgame. Within a framework that is therefore dense to say the least, squeezed between Black Widow and Eternals / Spider-Man, Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings, a film that at first glance (because then it is enough to reflect on the budget and the Asian market) could seem a bit an outsider and an underdog compared to the general Marvel Studios ecosystem, and in this it is perhaps also due to the fact that we are talking about a origin story and not of a character tested within the cinematic imaginary, neither as a protagonist nor as a supporting actor.
And if it is true that right now it is difficult to understand the actual importance that the character will have in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it is equally true that we are not faced with a film that we can define as minor or secondary, with some interesting flickers in the writing that in part he manages to distinguish him from the rest of the team. Among other things, we are talking about the most action-packed production - strictly speaking - of these years at Marvel Studios, and if all the two hours and a quarter had been set up and directed as the first act we would be talking about a small pearl of massacres, beatings and great choreography in The Raid.
Before continuing with this review of Shang-Chi and the review of the ten rings, I remind you that the film has been in cinemas since September 1st.
On the narrative level, as evident and already mentioned seven years ago by a Marvel One-Shot short, Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings takes up the story of Iron Man 3 and somehow corrects a disagreement that at the time had turned more than a few noses up, namely the choice to make the Mandarin a simple role of a puppet actor, a mask of the terrorist operations of the most important threat of Guy Pearce's Aldrich Killian. With a twist, which together with the short of 2014 makes a nice retcon, the Mandarin (Tony Leung) therefore really exists, has the ten rings, which are not on the hands (as we are used to thinking from comics and other representations), but on his arms, and has two sons, Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) and Xialing (Meng'er Zhang), with a woman from the mysterious village of Ta Lo, seat of an unspecified power (central place for the second and third act of the film).
Tested by destructive and inhuman training within his father's terrorist / paramilitary organization (The Ten Rings) and gripped by a profound revulsion for himself and the legacy he was acquiring, Shang-Chi decides to leave everything and go into hiding, pursuing a deliberately modest life, made up of small jobs, in a San Francisco where she grows up with her best friend Katy (Awkwafina) and where she tries to escape from the past, from her actions and her identity.
Clearly not everything goes as it should go and the knots eventually come to a head, starting a spiral of violence that brings Shang-Chi back to its origins in a story by structure on traditional and consolidated tracks, but with some interesting twists in the way of characterizing some dynamics between the characters.
What stands out is undoubtedly the relationship between Shang-Chi and the Mandarin
What stands out first of all is undoubtedly the relationship between Shang-Chi and the Mandarin, their family drama, central in any moment where there is no fight and fundamental as a propulsive element to the events of the story. In fact the Tangerine in principle he is by no means a banal villain: he has a definite psyche, clear motivations in his delirium, and in his actions there is a dignity, a pain and an underlying humanity that allow even a spectator to empathize (a factor always important when talking about antagonists).
The result of a family of light and dark is a Shang-Chi in turn of light and dark, in a characterization (which is not to be taken for granted) which also includes a moral complexity fairly defined behind the protagonist, a complexity that somehow illustrates how children are conditioned by the wishes and personalities of their parents, and how it is possible to find each other, accept and really improve themselves only once they understand who they were and what they were from. we left. Shang-Chi is to all intents and purposes an impulsive character, at times angry and above all fallible, the keystone of a film that in putting the family at the center ends up talking about generations, the pressure of parents' expectations on their children, and the very great efforts to get rid of it.
The writing of Shang-Chi therefore focuses on this and related themes, managing with some success to find a fulcrum capable of distinguishing it from the rest of the Marvel Studios production, despite the overly didactic (and sometimes a bit cunning) use ) of the flashbacks and an important and central narrative passage (always in flashbacks) managed in such an embarrassing way as to be terribly alienating, without the slightest care for the suspension of the viewer's disbelief.
Shang-Chi's first act works great in its attitude to action
Moving on to the rest of the soul of the film, Shang-Chi, as mentioned at the start, is the most action film of the Marvel Studios stable, and the first act after the prologue (which in any case boasts a remarkable and elegant comparison) is composed largely starts from a series of barrel all well choreographed and really well directed, legible and tense, through a not excessive use of editing. A special mention on this point should be made for the collision on the bus (a part was posted online), sensational and hands-down the best action scene of the film. In short, practically the entire first hour or so of Shang-Chi works in a sensational way at times, there is almost never a second of detachment in terms of rhythm and at times it almost seems to be able to become a sort of The Raid in cinecomic sauce, much it works in its attitude to action.
It is a pity, however, that there was not the courage to fully believe in this direction, an approach that would have made me cry out for a miracle at the end of the vision; in fact, the second act already slows down a lot and allows itself a much more narrative spirit than the first (in a sometimes very clumsy way, as mentioned above), with a collapse of the rhythm that is difficult not to perceive, while the third act is the moment in which unfortunately the film really explodes, inflated and enamored by its own ambition in a climax of the scale of the clashes that naively did not put a wise stop.
Shang-Chi in his third act in fact it becomes practically an anime, with moments worthy of Dragon Ball (with a lot of meta references to this within the film), and in this step longer than the leg the shots (especially in the second part of the third act) are no longer able to following the action out of control and editing seems to practically surrender to the general confusion. I am not joking when I say that there are whole minutes in which you have no idea what is going on in detail, and it is a real shame especially when you compare this rather bad result with the ability of the first act to present a clean action, fun and extremely physical.
Turning in conclusion to the connections with the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe, the anticlimatic ending and the two post-credit scenes (stay until the end of the credits) leave some doubts about the actual extent of the events of Shang-Chi, but it is still too much. soon to speak and some key elements may acquire greater importance and more may emerge retroactively in the future, you never know. Incidentally, Abomination and Wong are just a parenthesis of the film: do not have high hopes of seeing the villain played by Tim Roth for good, at least for now.Review by Simone Di Gregorio Did you like the article? Share it!