Shang-Chi: Was it Worth the Hype?

The highly anticipated Marvel Studios film Shang-Chi was recently released in theaters. The film has its highs and lows but is ultimately filled with a captivating storyline and beautiful fighting choreography.

Shang-Chi: Was it Worth the Hype?

“You trained your son to become a killer. Is this what you wanted?”

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, released September 3rd, is Marvel’s first Asian-led superhero film. It stars notable actors such as Awkwafina and Tony Leung and is directed by Destin Daniel Cretton.

Xu Shang-Chi, who is played by Simu Liu, is a humble, middle aged man living in San Francisco who believes he had rejected the destiny his father imposed upon him as a little boy after escaping his complex. However, Shang-Chi is now forced to face his past as he is dragged back into the mysterious Ten Rings Organization. 

The film’s electrifying martial arts and compelling worldbuilding—paired with its diverse cast—put Shang-Chi as the number-one rated Marvel Studios film with a score of 92% in rotten tomatoes. 

Shang-Chi has some of the best fight scenes out of the entire Marvel cinematic universe (yes, that includes Bucky’s iconic knife flip in Captain America: Winter Soldier). This can be credited to the incredible stunt team that consisted of former members of Jackie Chan’s official crew, which explains the movie’s resemblance to the infamous martial artist. The movie emphasizes the practical effects and includes minimal camera movement to highlight the raw experience. Shang-Chi’s epic fight scenes, CGI, and cinematography could even compel viewers unfamiliar with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

However, the film itself was not without faults. The directors could have gone deeper into his backstory which could explain his drive and motivations. There was a lot of wasted potential that could have added depth to the characters and helped them resonate with the audience more. Throughout the movie, it is never explained how Shang escaped his father, why he left his sister, or how he managed to leave his past behind and start a new life in San Francisco. 

Additionally, Shang-Chi’s personality was a little bland, though critics tend to say otherwise. It is easy to forget he is even the main character as he was constantly outshined by the rest of the cast such as Katy or his father. Katy as the comedical relief fit was neither overbearing nor annoying; she knew when to be serious and when to lighten the mood. Wenwu was probably one of my favorite Marvel villains due to the realistic motivations for his actions. Overshadowed by these characters, Shang-Chi felt like more of a side character. His sister, Xialing, was more interesting and would have made a better protagonist of the film. Additionally, Simu Liu’s acting felt quite forced, making it difficult to focus on what was actually being said due to the delivery. Nonetheless, the film has its strong points, and I would still recommend anyone to watch it before forming an opinion of their own. 

So, why exactly was this film such a big deal for Asian representation in the media? A film with such international influence can help negate negative stereotypes associated with Asians, especially with the spike in Asian hate crimes around the world. Representation is extremely important in touching minority groups. Simu Liu has explained he hopes this movie can help Asian children across the West feel represented and seen.

So, to answer the question in the title: did Shang-Chi deserve the hype? Yes, yes it did. 

Final verdict: 7.5/10