FunAstrology"Shang-Chi" combines martial arts and comic spectacles

"Shang-Chi" combines martial arts and comic spectacles

With Shang-Chi, Marvel Studios is bringing an Asian title hero to the cinema for the first time. The mixture of martial arts film and the tried and tested Marvel spectacle has its charm.

London – You can’t choose who to be your father. Luke Skywalker had to realize this painfully when Darth Vader uttered one of the most famous sentences in film history in “The Empire Strikes Back”: “I am your father.”

The title hero from “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”, the new film from Marvel Studios, which caused box-office rings around the world with “Avengers”, “Captain Marvel” or “Black Panther”, is also quite unhappy about his sire .

The Chinese-Canadian actor Simu Liu plays Shang-Chi, whose father Wenwu (Tony Leung), also known as Manadarin, is around 1,000 years old and a feared conqueror. Then he fell in love with Shang-Chi’s mother, Jian-Li, who awakened the good in him. But since her violent death, Wenwu has been obsessed with revenge. In retrospect it is shown how he trained the young Shang-Chi to be a professional killer. But he renounces Wenwu and leaves China. In San Francisco he lives under the name Shaun and works with his best friend Katy (Awkwafina) as a parking lot helper.

One day, Shang-Chi is ambushed by his father’s thugs on the bus and shows – in a spectacular action scene – his true abilities. The attackers manage to steal an amulet that his mother gave him. When Shang-Chi tries to warn his estranged sister in Macau, they are surprised by Wenwu and his soldiers. The family reunion proceeds peacefully until the father reveals his plan. He believes that Jian-Li is still alive and is being held captive in her magical hometown. Wenwu has found the secret way to get there and is planning a major attack with his army. Shang-Chi wants to prevent that.

The 25th film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) focuses on an Asian hero for the first time. Funnily enough, title hero Simu Liu asked for it three years ago on Twitter. Marvel boss Kevin Feige claims, however, that he never saw the tweet. The Chinese-born Canadian Liu was previously quite unknown in Europe. He is trained in various martial arts and was initially a stuntman before he gained a fan base through the Canadian comedy series “Kim’s Convenience”, which should now grow significantly with his acceptance into the MCU.

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is a mixture of action comedy, Eastern and the well-known Marvel spectacle. There are also elements of the Wǔxiá genre. Wǔxiá films, the most famous of which is the Oscar-winning Tiger and Dragon, are famous for elaborate battle scenes that ignore gravity. At Shang-Chi, scenes and martial arts fights like those from Jackie Chan or Jet Li are overloaded with too many special effects. This robs them of their strength and sometimes makes them look unnecessarily artificial and less impressive.

“Shang-Chi” plays amusing with Asian clichés while counteracting racist stereotypes. Unfortunately, it’s full of boring Hollywood clichés. Unlike the original Marvel hits “Ant-Man” and “Guardians of the Galaxy”, the gags here are aimed more at teenagers. You can usually sense the punch line beforehand. Awkwafina is really funny. You just wish the script had given the comedian a few better sentences to say than “Holy shit!” Or “Wait a minute!” What?”.

It’s also a shame that the wonderful film music by Joel P. West with traditional Chinese elements is too often interrupted by penetrating beats and hip-hop songs that don’t really fit the pictures. A hip soundtrack album is obviously essential.

Another shortcoming is predictability. The Marvel formula is wearing out a bit. A lot seems familiar, without being able to say exactly from which film. In some inconsequential scenes you can already guess what they are for or what will happen later. In addition, director Destin Daniel Cretton (“Just Mercy”) wastes a lot of time on detailed retrospectives that take speed without giving depth to the one-dimensional characters. Only the bombastic finale with dragons and other mythical creatures is gripping, causing a slight déjá-vu with “The Empire Strikes Back”.

In addition to the likeable Liu and the lively Akwafina, the unbelievably charismatic Hong Kong star Tony Leung, who shone in classics such as “Bullet in the Head” or “In the Mood for Love”, should be positively mentioned. In addition to Leung, one of Asia’s most successful export stars, Michelle Yeoh (“James Bond – Tomorrow Never Dies”, “Star Trek: Discovery”) also plays as Shang-Chi’s aunt. Short appearances by well-known characters such as Wong (Benedict Wong), Abomination (Tim Roth) and Trevor Slattery (Ben Kingsley) make you smile. But “Shang-Chi” would probably have gotten a lot better if it hadn’t followed the principle of its MCU predecessors in such a formulaic manner.

In the inevitable mid-credit sequence, the scene in the middle of the credits, Marvel, as usual, presents a cliffhanger for future adventures with prominent figures. “The ten rings will return” is the motto. How soon there is a sequel will also be decided at the box office. Disney has not yet shown full confidence after Corona. “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” will only be shown in cinemas for 45 days before the film is released on the streaming platform. dpa

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