The first Marvel movie in years to have a serious chance of failure.
But does The Legend of the Ten Rings deserve it?
Sean is a humble guy. He lives in San Francisco, works as a valet at a hotel, hangs out with his school friend Katie in the evenings. Simple, understandable, almost carefree life. No one suspects that Sean’s name is actually Shang-Chi and he is the son of Asia’s most powerful crime lord. Wenwu, aka Mandarin, for a thousand years crushed empires, captured cities and destroyed the unwanted with the help of his magical bracers (which for some reason everyone calls rings). At the end of the twentieth century, the conqueror settled down for a while and started a family, but he raised his children in a Spartan way. Young Shang-Chi dutifully endured all the hardships, but escaped as soon as his father sent him on the first mission to kill a man. And now, many years later, the hero will again face the demons of the past, and at the same time upset the villainous plans of the Mandarin.
Even if we assume that Shang-Chi was created solely in order to break the box office in China, and at the same time receive praise for its representation, the concept of the film itself is quite working: an oriental fantasy about a young warrior who is trying to defeat his tyrant father. Cartoon “Avatar” the same scheme worked just brilliantly – there is something to strive for. Anyway, it would be interesting to look at the magical East through the prism of Marvel. Surely he is as bright and distinctive as Wakanda with its Afro-futurism. Isn’t it? Truth?
Aquafina is responsible for rare jokes in the film, and even then not always successful
We will talk about missed opportunities a little later, but the main thing is that these opportunities were, and in large numbers. Fortunately, the creators got a lot right. “Shang-Chi” skillfully mimics films in the genre of “wuxia” and Hong Kong action films about martial arts. From the first “Legend of the Ten Rings” got a couple of stunningly beautiful and poetic scenes, and from the second, of course, fights, staged indeed at a new level for Marvel. Of course, if you have seen at least one work of Donnie Yen or Iko Weiss, what is happening on the screen will hardly surprise you, but everything is filmed at least better than in the recent “Mortal Kombate”… The fight on the bus claims to be one of the most adrenaline-pumping episodes of the MCU. True, she also cripples the eyes of the audience with almost the most creepy graphics that Marvel let on the big screens. This is a straight final level “Black Panther”, but instead of poor PS2 models, there is work with a chroma key, reminiscent of the Star Wars prequels. Then the situation is corrected, but it’s still strange to see something like this in a $ 200 million movie.
Nevertheless, the disguise as better examples of the chosen genres of Shang-Chi is successful – problems overtake when the film tries to be on its own. Either the creators were so afraid of the Chinese censors, or they were simply afraid to take risks in an already informal project, but the film turned out to be as smooth as possible, safe and, therefore, insipid.
Because of Shang-Chi’s escape and de facto betrayal, his younger sister grew up to be a cold-blooded assassin. But this does not affect the plot in any way.
The leading actor, Simu Liu, tries hard, despite the complete absence of any charisma, and he even has something to play. Shang-Chi is a deep, tragic character … In theory. But in practice, after the Black Widow, he became the most boring character in his own named blockbuster. If the plot was centered on his assassin sister, his millennial supervillain father, or even his San Francisco girlfriend, who was accidentally drawn into this mythical whistle, the film would only win. Partly the reason is that the creators, behind some kind of devil, right up to the final third, hide the most important detail about Shang-Chi’s past – in fact, the basis of his conflict with his father. It’s as if in a movie about Spider-Man the phrase about great power and responsibility would have sounded for the first time somewhere under the finale. That is, the viewer is simply deprived of the opportunity to understand the character’s motivation and, accordingly, to feel at least some kind of sympathy for him.
But Mandarin (more precisely Wenwu) through the efforts of the megastar of Chinese cinema Tony Leung becomes one of the best Marvel villains. In many ways, he resembles Thanos: the same megalomaniac with very perverted concepts of upbringing and caring. However, Leung endows the character with nuances and semitones, thanks to which the wisdom of the ages, and cruelty, and, oddly enough, sincere love for his children are felt in him. True, his villainous plan and motivation cause frank bewilderment. Yes, and the conflict with his son is not enough. It could turn out to be a poetic drama about the confrontation between the cruel past and the bright future, the tragedy of a man who has lost himself and his path over the course of tens of centuries, and a quick sketch on the topic came out.
However, the film manifests itself most lazily where it should shine especially brightly – in the field of oriental fantasy. What a Disney “Raiu” accused of copying “Avatar”, but even it shows the world of Asian mythology brighter and more lively. Why is there, the final third of the “Legend of the Ten Rings” reminds, you will not believe, “The Secret of the Dragon’s Seal”! And the comparison is not necessarily in favor of Shang-Chi. For all the simplicity of the script and the general curvature of the execution, the Russian thrash blockbuster (thrashbuster?) Has worked out the oriental setting much more original. At least there were all sorts of steampunk pribluds that fired electricity (hello to the old TV series “The sorcerer”). And the Marvel movie comics can only offer weapons and armor made of dragon scales. Skyrim some! No, it’s more like any Chinese MMO. Bamboo forests, an old village and three types of fantastic creatures – that’s the whole magical world.
As a result, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is as much an optional Marvel movie as Black Widow. If you are a fan of the franchise, then watch it at least for the sake of a tick. But if you want a bright oriental fantasy with breathtaking battles and an unusual world, then maybe it makes sense to take a closer look directly at Chinese cinema. “Shang-Chi” will dull this hunger, but not satisfy.
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