Movie Review: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

By Logan Forrest

Staff Writer

Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings | Disney Australia

Image source: disney.com.au

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, an action film starring Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Fala Chen, Meng’er Zhang, and Ben Kingsley, takes place in San Francisco, 2023, after half of the population has been brought back from the snap of Thanos. Shang-Chi, a Japanese martial arts master, has to confront his past which he thought he left behind.

Shang-Chi lives in San Francisco and works as a valet with his best friend, Katy. He’s doing pretty well as a valet, and he enjoys his job. But one day he’s thrust back into the world of supernatural powers and the Ten Rings, an organization created by his father. Shang-Chi has to fight men sent by his father and find his sister, Xialing, in Japan, and warn her of their father’s plans before it’s too late.

The choreography and effects used in the fight scenes were done very well. The film successfully depicted martial arts fighting by having the camera focus on close-ups and bird’s-eye view to show the fighting styles the characters used in the film, with martial arts being a big premise of the movie.

The camera closely followed the movements of the characters. If a character flipped upside down, the camera would smoothly follow them, making the viewers feel the rush of the flip and the momentum the character used in their movements. It was a close-to-nauseating feeling. They used a lot of slow-motion effects in the fighting scenes to really show what the characters are doing or when a character gets hit really hard. It truly focused on the precision of Japanese martial arts and how much training can help an individual fight and defend themselves. 

The best fight scenes were the ones in which the Ten Rings were used. When the father and mother of Shang-Chi and Xialing fought at the beginning of the movie, slow-motion effects were heavily used in their fight, helping to show their expressions and body movement. The slow-motion effect also helped the camera show what the rings looked like when they were used, depicting them as powerful and mysterious. But when they focused on close-up shots of the faces of the mother and father, they showed them staring into one another’s eyes like they were falling in love.

Another great aspect of the film was the musical score. The music was absolutely beautiful, mystic, and it drew you in. It used drums and bamboo sticks as well as traditional Chinese music for the ensemble, including the stringed erhu and pipa, the xiao and dizi flutes, the hammered-dulcimer-like yangqin, and the zither-like guzheng. According to Variety, the composer of the Shang Chi score, Joel P. West, said,“Those instruments are largely connected to Shang-Chi’s mom and the mystical realm that she’s from, so we treated them with more ethereal layers, to hint at this other place.”

West also said, “His dad’s themes are big and emotional and dominating,” and part of the fun of the score was eventually turning “this ominous, dark music into Shang-Chi’s hero melody with big, fun brass and booming drums, powerful and masculine and celebratory.”

Some songs used a hip-hop, rap pattern that also had a Japanese chime mixed into it, along with dubstep.

My overall reaction to the movie was, “Wow! This was pretty darn good!”

Who doesn’t like a good Marvel movie? It was just as good as Black Panther (2018). The quality of the movie was phenomenal and I am an ultimate music nerd, so the music scores especially attracted me.

It reminded me of Karate Kid from 2010, The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), and the Killmonger Theme composed by Ludwig Göransson. The acting was really good. The film pulled me into the story, and the filming style made it even better, transporting me back into the post-snap world of Marvel. I would definitely recommend watching this movie.

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