Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings benefits from novelty and a wonderful cast with palpable chemistry

When Shang-Chi, a valet from San Francisco, is suddenly drawn back into his immortal father’s world of magic, martial arts, and metahumans, he must defend an ancient civilization from his dad’s wrath and an even more ancient evil that could destroy them all.

I’ll say this about Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: For a movie that takes place in the MCU and has more than a few glorious cameos from its heroes, Shang Chi is the least Marvel movie of them all. Eschewing the formula for a tale more mystical and personal, more magical and mysterious. That’s not really a plus for the movie or a condemnation of the Marvel formula as a whole… it’s just different and that was my main draw to this movie. It marches to its own rhythm.

That rhythm doesn’t exactly make it a top tier motion picture, but it does make it a interesting entry into the pantheon of Marvel movies.

While not particularly deep, Shang Chi benefits from a highly likeable cast including Simu Liu and Awkwafina who have such delightful chemistry together that I would have happily watched an entire movie of the two just hanging out.

I enjoy that Marvel isn’t afraid of shoving D-tier superheroes into their own movies and hurtling them at the public like a water balloon. Heck, without that adventurous streak, we would have never gotten Guardians of the Galaxy but, then again, Chris Pratt would still be an obscure actor and we wouldn’t have to put up with him.

Shang Chi is an enjoyable movie. It’s nice to see a film full of minority characters without a token white guy to tag along. The characters are fun, the settings are wonderful, the weirdness is delightful and, although you can smell the formula on the film, it’s the least Marvely Marvel movie to hit theaters.

I’m very excited to see what they’re going to do with this character from here on out.

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