After launching a slew of new content on Disney +, Marvel Studios continues to find success in a struggling film industry with its latest release Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings, which recently exceeded Black Widow become the highest grossing film of the year at the domestic box office.
A big part of Shang-ChiThe success of can be attributed to the phenomenal cast that director Destin Daniel Cretton is largely responsible for assembling, which included a fantastic mix of veteran talent like Tony Leung and Michelle Yeoh to upcoming stars like Simu Liu and Awkwafina. While the entire cast did an outstanding job overall, a handful of outstanding performances resulted in Shang-Chi the authenticity he needed to succeed.
ten Fallen short: Ben Kingsley’s Trevor Slattery feels out of place
No one denies that Ben Kingsley is capturing an audience with his naive Trevor Slattery. In fact, among its MCU releases – which include Iron man 3 and the Marvel one-shot “All Hail the King” – its appearance in Shang-Chi is possibly the most authentic and entertaining the former criminal has ever been, especially given his dynamic with the Dijiang Morris.
Although executed well, Kingsley’s performance as the bubbly Slattery is sadly more of a hindrance than the comedic relief it is designed for. The fake Mandarin actor would have been better suited to a cameo scene; instead, it feels like Slattery goes beyond her welcome in the movie by accompanying Shang-Chi and the others on their journey to Ta Lo.
9 Nailed: Benedict Wong singing “Hotel California” is hilarious
Benedict Wong as a wizard who ironically calls himself “Wong” is inevitably entertaining no matter what he turns up in. First appeared in 2016 Doctor strange, the Master of the Mystic Arts is known for his serious approach to life and his supposed lack of knowledge about Beyoncé. However, when her services are requested, Wong always delivers.
Wong makes a few cameos in the movie, first appearing in the Golden Daggers Club to beat Abomination before appearing at the end to “recruit” Shang-Chi and Katy for the Avengers. Afterward, Shang-Chi and Katy decide to celebrate with karaoke, ending the evening with a comedic scene they think of and stern Wong singing “Hotel California”.
8 Fallen short: Florian Munteanu’s razor-sharp fist is just a henchman
Florian Munteanu first appears as the infamous henchman known as Razor Fist when the Ten Rings face off against Shaun and Katy in San Francisco. After Katy finds out that Shaun is truly the martial artist known as Shang-Chi, the Romanian reveals his cybernetic armblade and fights against the future Avenger.
Sadly, this fight is the culmination of this antagonist’s movie where he manages to steal the Dragon’s Eye from Shang-Chi. Munteanu’s character reappears in Macau and Ta Lo, but the villain never has a real goal again. While surviving the events of the film, the reality is that Razor Fist is nothing more than a glorified henchman.
7 Nailed: Awkwafina balances humor and sobriety with Katy
Having a plethora of characters to draw on to build a new corner of the MCU, Marvel took the risk of picking Awkwafina as Katy, a brand new character unique to the films. To anchor her character, Katy’s family also makes a cameo appearance, with Ms. Chen berating her for not finding “real” work and Waipo Chen urging her to marry Shaun.
But, while so many things could go wrong, Awkwafina manages to strike a careful balance that resonates with the tone of the scene she finds herself in, bringing both MCU-branded humor and outspoken sobriety when needed. . Katy even gets the chance to show off her newly learned archery skills in the movie’s third act.
6 Fallen short: Michelle Yeoh is woefully underused as Jiang Nan
When you play a movie legend like Michelle Yeoh in a movie, it seems sacrilegious not to get the most out of your character. Unfortunately, this is exactly what Jiang Nan feels in Shang-Chi – underserved and underutilized. In fact, Nan doesn’t appear until the third act of the film, as she resides in the mythical and hidden world of Ta Lo.
When Jiang Nan appears in the movie, there’s no doubt that she’s a badass character, as she quickly shows him in her Shang-Chi humiliation during their short fight. As Shang-Chi and Xialing’s aunt, Nan ultimately serves to provide exposure for characters and audiences to tease Ta Lo’s secrets that could be explored in the sequels.
5 Nailed: Fala Chen’s Jiang Li drives the plot of the story
For a character so absent, Fala Chen’s presence of Jiang Li simply proliferates throughout the story. She serves as the guiding star for Shang-Chi (and later Xialing) who compassionately tells the story of her love and that of Wenwu. However, for Wenwu, she becomes a disembodied voice that the Dweller-in-Darkness uses to manipulate the Mandarin.
Jiang Li has two shining moments in Shang-Chi: when she first meets Wenwu and when she defends Shang-Chi from the Iron Gang (at the cost of her life). The latter of the two is particularly poignant for Shang-Chi and Wenwu, as the effects of his death ripple through the resulting fight between the two at Li’s original house.
4 Fallen short: Meng’er Zheng’s Xu Xialing is relegated to the shadows
Meng’er Zheng reveals Xu Xialing, who is none other than Shang-Chi’s sister. Although the Ten Rings refused to train women when the two were growing up, Xialing herself learned the martial arts which ultimately led her to become a deadly assassin who is Shang-Chi’s equal.
Despite this, Xialing is continually overlooked in the film, despite her clear fighting and intellectual prowess, which she shows during the Battle of Ta Lo and escaping Wenwu Compound, respectively. Jiang Nan’s proclamation that Xialing must “come out of the shadows” couldn’t be more precise.
3 Nailed: Simu Liu showcases his martial arts skills as Shang-Chi
While a track doesn’t always make or destroy a movie, Simu Liu’s performance as the Shang-Chi titular certainly takes that movie to new heights it wouldn’t have reached otherwise. In particular, the actor’s rigorous preparation for the film included a training program encompassing styles of martial arts like Kung Fu, Tai Chi, and Wing Chun.
The training certainly pays off, as some of the film’s best fight scenes involve the close-quarters combat Shang-Chi is known for, taking place over everything from a bus in San Francisco to a scaffolding of Macau skyscrapers. Additionally, Liu brings intensity to his role, allowing him to match Leung’s captivating performance as a father.
2 Fallen Short: Andy Le’s Death Dealer Was Way Too Excited
If there was one character who really received the proverbial short end of the stick in Shang-Chi, it must be Andy Le’s Death Servant. Similar to the comics, Li Ching-Lin is a staunch servant of Shang-Chi’s father. Unlike the comics, however, Death Dealer trains Shang-Chi to become modern himself.
Although he is a mentor to Shang-Chi, the secondary antagonist has no lines in the film and is unceremoniously killed by a Soul Eater during the Battle of Ta Lo. For a character supposedly essential to Shang-Chi’s education, it’s heartbreaking to see Death Dealer’s narrative potential erased so quickly.
1 Nailed: Tony Leung subverts expectations as Wenwu
If there was one character that Marvel absolutely had to nail Shang-Chi, it would have to be the film’s main antagonist, Wenwu (even more so than Shang-Chi himself). Fortunately, the role could not have fallen in better hands than that of famous Hong Kong actor Tony Leung, who plays a complex man in the throes of tragedy and despair.
Leung not only manages to overcome the Marvel stereotype of static villains with his portrayal of the Mandarin, but he also removes the bitter taste left in the mouths of many fans as a result of the ill-received counterfeit with Trevor Slattery’s Mandarin in Iron man 3. Thankfully, Leung’s performance lives up to the immortal antagonist of Legends.
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