Marvel’s Shang-Chi Review Round-Up: What the Critics Are Saying
Reviews are in for Marvel's Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings ahead of its September 3 release only in theaters. The Asian-led and action-packed Shang-Chi, introducing Simu Liu as Marvel's newest superhero, arrived with rave reviews when first audiences attended the Disney-Marvel movie's Hollywood premiere last week. Critics praised the kung fu epic for hitting with "action like we've never seen" before in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Brandon Davis, ComicBook), led by a star-making performance from Liu, who "fully embraces the Marvel superhero role" (Wendy Lee Szany, The Movie Couple).
Director Destin Daniel Cretton packs Shang-Chi with "lore, action, and excitement that will surely thrill fans who are here to see Marvel's first martial arts film," reads an excerpt from Jamie Jirak's spoiler-free review for ComicBook. "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's best origin stories to date, filled with stunningly choreographed action, unexpected laughs, and a whole lot of heart."
With the review embargo expiring Monday morning, Shang-Chi is punching up a so-far "fresh" 86% approval from critics on Rotten Tomatoes (from 22 reviews at the time of publication). Here's what the critics are saying about the Marvel Studios movie:
Master Marvel Origin Story
"Shang-Chi is another smartly calibrated extension of the Marvel stable amid its endeavors to become more diverse," reads a positive review from Brian Lowry for CNN.com that says the movie "masters the art of the Marvel origin story."prevnext
In his first turn as the Master of Kung Fu, Liu is "simply a joy to watch," reads an excerpt from Brian Truitt's review for USA Today. "He's the MCU's most significant and infectious rookie since the late Chadwick Boseman [Black Panther] with the same face-of-the-franchise appeal as Chris Evans [Captain America]."prevnext
The addition of famed Hong Kong actor Tony Leung to the MCU "provides an arresting entry point into a hero's origin story that tries, with some success, to rise above Marvel business-as-usual," critic Justin Chang writes for The Los Angeles Times, adding: "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is most enjoyable when it shakes off the tedious franchise imperatives and forges its own path. The movie's late-breaking highlights include Michelle Yeoh's performance as Ying Nan, a mentor figure to Shang-Chi and Xialing [Meng'er Zhang] who dispenses pearls of wisdom with customary poise and offers a warm counterweight to Leung's brooding chill."prevnext
Aside from Leung, Shang-Chi is "a bust," according to Jake Cole of Slant Magazine: "Even the most grounded choreography is plainly being aided by computer effects, and the chopped-up close-ups on the action consistently reduce the sparring characters to a blur. As per usual for the MCU, the final act devolves into loud and chaotic visual nonsense, with the Oedipal reckoning between Shang-Chi and Wenwu [Leung] giving way to an incomprehensible conflagration of magical beasts and largescale warfare that only further emphasizes the lack of interest that the film has in its ostensibly probing human drama."prevnext
Flawed but Fun
"A world of Asian mysticism, with dragons, demons, and creatures-think Asian Wuxia movies like House of Flying Daggers meets Raya The Last Dragon-that feels unique to what we've already seen in the mystic side of the MCU," reads a positive review of the "flawed" but fun movie from The Playlist's Rodrigo Perez.prevnext
"Shang-Chi is as bland and busy as its title," reads an excerpt from Jacob Oller's negative review for Paste Magazine. "Shang-Chi can't even keep its fights free from the MCU's encroaching house style. Its final battle falls prey to the same collision between ambition and tradition that drags its narrative down. While Shang-Chi strives for unique, expressive, even impressively grotesque design for its creatures, critters, armor and weapons, it's all blurred in a digital slurry under assault from the same kind of ill-defined flying critters that seem to plague every film in the MCU."
The review continues: "Not only does this climax not make much visual sense, filling the frame with swirling nonsense that probably looked great as concept art, it's as frustratingly generic as its trained killer hero."prevnext
The Right Direction
Shang-Chi has "some pacing issues" but "delivers a hugely entertaining step in the right direction for Asian representation" with "funny and endearing moments amid beautifully choreographed action sequences," writes Laura Sirikul in a positive review for Empire Magazine. "Shang-Chi excels as a story about family and how it can be twisted by grief... Simu Liu, Awkwafina, and Tony Leung bring multi-faceted characters to life."
Starring Simu Liu, Tony Leung, Awkwafina, Michelle Yeoh, Fala Chen, Meng'er Zhang, Florian Munteanu, and Ronny Chieng, Marvel's Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings opens only in theaters on September 3.prev