The Heart of the Dragon

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Director: Destin Daniel Cretton

Cast: Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Tony Chui-Wai Leung, Ben Kingsley, Meng’er Zhang, Michelle Yeoh, Mark Ruffalo, Florian Munteanu

Film rating: 7 out of 10

Running time: 2 hours and 12 minutes

The Glass Castle director Destin Daniel Cretton certainly landed a massive task in directing the Oriental fantasy film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings assembling a mostly Chinese cast with Chinese Canadian actor Simu Liu in the lead role as Shang Chi and comedian, rapper and Golden Globe winner Akwafina (The Farewell) as his sidekick Katy.

While Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings starts off promisingly with some thrilling action sequences on the streets of San Francisco followed by an equally brilliant fight sequence in an abandoned skyscraper in Macao in China, the rest of the CGI laden fantasy epic just eventually unravels into a simulacrum of the Tales of Narnia mixed with some strange dragon sequences which clearly resemble the final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones.

Then there is the problematic appearance of Oscar winner Ben Kingsley (Gandhi) popping up in such a crazy heavily laden special effects film. Does Ben Kingsley really need the money or did Marvel pay him an extraordinary fee to appear in this confusing martial arts fantasy epic which tries desperately to tag along to the more mainstream Avengers films? One wonders.

After the brilliance of Black Widow, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, despite making an absolute fortune at the overseas box office, is not as well written or directed or even constituted as an action adventure fantasy.

This Marvel venture is certainly entertaining but at 2 hours and 12 minutes, the middle section of the film drags continuously as does the epic dragon battle sequence at the end which is a rehash of other similar Marvel films and nothing unique.

Despite the film industry being in turmoil since the global Pandemic, it is good to know that Marvel is trying to cover all their bases in terms of target markets but seriously Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings could have been so much better and taken inspiration from such superb martial arts films as director Ang Lee’s Oscar winning Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon especially considering it lured Bond star Michelle Yeoh (Tomorrow Never Dies) to appear in this film too.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is entertaining and has already made its box office takings but as a film, this could have been absolutely brilliant but then again Marvel are just cashing in on the current cinematic trend and appealing to that massive target market in China which has the world’s largest cinema going population outside of India.

This action adventure fantasy gets a film rating of 7 out of 10. It’s fun but not amazing. Catch it in cinemas or on a streaming site in the future.

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