Transcribed Ep 35: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Intro

Welcome to REEL Film Reviewed the show that delivers short spoiler free reviews of films, TV shows, and limited series followed by a deep dive discussion.

Brought to you by your host Kris Chaney, here is REEL Film Reviewed.

Content

Welcome back, everyone. 

This episode REEL Film reviewed Shang Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings. 

I know I’m a little bit late on reviewing this one, it was a big hit when it first came out back in September and I was excited to review it. 

Let’s get into the spoiler free review.

Shang Chi, a master of Kung Fu, is forced to confront his past trauma to save a sacred village from the Ten Rings Organization. 

Looking at the stories, the story begins with a look into the history of the Ten Rings and the man who wears and controls them. The Ten Rings organization is preparing for a great battle, but first must obtain two jade stones that were made into pendants and carried by a brother and sister living in different parts of the world. 

It was a great story of personal discovery through a perilous journey, there were a few moments of heart wrenching pain and a lot of examples for different characters to overcome an individual personal hurdle. The personal discovery and journey didn’t lie with just one main character, which assisted in setting this film apart from the others in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe.) 

Marvel continues to highlight diversity and bring great awareness to women heroes, along with heroes of different nationalities and even species on screen, just as they do and as they have done in their printed comics. 

I loved this cast. There were some actors I’ve seen for the first time, some that I’ve seen in numerous films and I love and also some great Kung Fu hitters such as Michelle Yeoh.

There were a few that I want to call out. 

Awkwafina has been in a few films that I’ve seen and she’s always played hilarious, outspoken, strong characters no matter what her role is, she brings such a lovable nature and versatility to her character. In this, she certainly makes an impact and I loved her journey in this film.

Meng’er Zhang, this is the first that I’ve seen her in anything, but I loved her character and the lethal strength that she brought to her. She plays this awesome badass Kung Fu leader, and I enjoy her journey and outcome in this film. I’ll dive a little bit more in detail with each of these characters after the spoiler alert.

Michelle Yeoh plays a smaller part of the main cast but she is basically Kung Fu royalty. My dad and I are big Kung Fu fans and I first saw her when I was a young kid and I saw Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, and that was my very first film watching subtitled and the first film that I’d seen that was like that. It was a totally different story, a totally different culture, a totally different vibe for me on camera and it completely changed my world. I remember the first time I saw Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon in theaters and one of my favorite parts was Michelle Yeoh. So I really enjoyed that and I really liked that she was in this.

And last, but not least Simu Liu, who played Shang-Chi. I think it’s hang on, Shaun-Chi. I’m saying, I know I’m going to mess these names up, everybody, so don’t beat me up too much. I’m trying to be respectful, but yeah, I am saying that wrong. 

So Shaun-Chi, I liked him as a hero and I enjoyed the camaraderie between him and Awkwafina’s character. He was a good example of a strong male lead that didn’t need to be a dick, sarcastic or wimpy. He was a fairly normal guy and he had a great hero presence on screen and you pulled for him, you wanted him to win.

The REEL View rating: 8 out of 10 stars. 

This film was just as visually pleasing as it was fun to watch with well placed comedy along with enough emotion to add a wholesome vibe to it. 

The characters were lovable and enjoyable, the villains were hard to beat, and there was more than just one enemy presented, and there’s also a little bit of a different take on the enemy. I’m a big fan of villains, and I always enjoy the misunderstood aspect of the villains. And this movie did a very good job at displaying everything that you wanted to film. 

Overall, Shang-Chi was a near perfect film with just the right amount of everything needed to set a film into the zeitgeist.

Make sure to stay put after the credits begin to catch the post credit scenes. Trust me, you are not going to want to miss those. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was directed by Destin Daniel Cretton. Starring Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, Ben Kingsley, Meng’er Zhang, and Michelle Yeoh.

It is rated PG 13 and has a run time of 2 hours and 12 minutes. 

It can be viewed in theaters and on Disney Plus. 

All right, here is the spoiler alert warning. 

Those new to REEL film reviewed after this point, I will discuss this review further, potentially and likely reviewing spoilers.

Thank you for listening to the spoiler free review. I’ll be back after a word about my sponsors.

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Spoiler Alert

Welcome back, everyone. 

Let’s dive into the REEL View Hollywood Comparison for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

The REEL View was 8 out of 10 stars. 

Hollywood said 71. 

Popular opinion was 7.7 out of 10 stars. 

I know I said that I wasn’t going to give halves, but I really felt like I wanted to do 7.5 but I landed on 8 because I felt like it deserved it. 

Recapping the plotline, the film begins with a look into Wenwu and the history of the ten rings and then cuts to present day San Francisco where we meet Shaun and follow him as he lives his mediocre life with his best friend Katy.

 A simple bus ride to work the next day changes their lives forever when Shaun is attacked on the bus for the pendant that he wears around his neck. He pretends he doesn’t understand what’s going on until they threaten Katy. He basically beats everyone on the bus up before losing the pendant anyway. Katy is shocked to see that her best friend of ten years knows Kung Fu and appears to be much more than he has been living the last ten years. 

Shaun says he must find his sister because they will go after her and get her pendant next. Katy accompanies Shaun to find his sister, and when he gets thrown into the ring at a major fighting arena, I guess. He’s surprised to see that it is his sister that he’s fighting and after she beats him, the arena is attacked by members of the Ten Rings organization that had attacked Shaun and Katy in San Francisco. 

Shaun’s sister escapes and appears to leave them for dead before reappearing and catching Katy midair from falling to her death. Shaun is about to kill one of the intruders when his father shows up and stops him and they all return to the Ten Rings organization training compound where Shaun, who we learned now is Shang-Chi and his sister grew up. 

Their father admits to them that he’s been hearing their mother’s voice and is planning on attacking their–well her sacred village, Ta Lo and he thinks that she’s being kept behind this gate and after he finishes telling the story, everyone collectively feels that Wenwu has lost his mind and attacking the village will only destroy the people’s lives. 

Then Wenwu has them locked up they break out and follow a creature from the sacred village of Ta Lo that was kind of imprisoned with the, I guess the court jester and they follow him to the village entrance, and here they meet their aunt and prepare for the arrival of Wenwu and the Ten Rings organization. 

They learn what is actually kept behind the gate, which is a monster of darkness essentially. When Wenwu arrives, they begin an all out battle, suffering loss on both sides to include Wenwu. 

Shang-Chi and Xialing, that’s his sister, team up to fight the monster of darkness. But it’s Katy’s master arrow shot to the neck of the monster that started the momentum on their side. Shang-Chi destroys the monster in spectacular form and finally, at the end we see the much anticipated appearance of Wong to take them back to the house with him and Doctor Strange. 

Wong had made an appearance for a moment in the beginning of the film at Xialing’s arena, so I was kind of waiting for him to come back this whole time so when he came back I was like, yes, finally!

Breaking down the REEL View. 

I can’t say that there was anything that I didn’t like at all about this film. I only caught two goofs which weren’t a big deal at all. They were — one was on the bus and the cutting of the brakes. I only knew that because I grew up in the Bay Area and going to San Francisco a lot. 

But buses use air brakes, which will automatically brake the bus if the air lines are cut. Not the opposite, which happens with traditional car brakes.

And during the forest scene when Katy is driving through we see the mirror get broken off, but then it reappears in another scene and the only reason why I even noticed that is because it’s a point in that scene that we see the window break off or the mirror break off. 

Nitpicky stuff, nothing that took me out of the film itself. I came into this film with no expectations, but I had already heard about how much everyone loved it. So I was very pleased to agree with the hype and say that this film was one of the best that I’ve seen this year. 

What I really enjoyed about it was; I mentioned that it was a story about character building and personal growth and discovery and journey. And what I meant by that was not just Shang-Chi in his journey from going from a life with his mother to a life with just his father. His sister kind of had the shit end of the stick the whole time as well too and that wasn’t really made apparent as he was growing up on his side. But when you see it from her side, you see all of the neglect and the abuse and you see how she watches and she trains herself. 

So she has a goal and an ambition to create her own thing and lead her own organization versus Shang-Chi, who has this enormous will and desire to be a good person and to save and to help. He has this quality about him and that’s apparent from the very first scene with the bus scene and Awkwafina. He’s fine and he gives in when they’re pushing him around, he doesn’t do anything but the second that they lay hands on her, he turns into this whole Kung Fu master and blows his whole cover. 

So that character building–it shows the development of the characters very well and what path they’re going to take. And then Awkwafina also has a path that she’s going to take as well. She kind of feels like a screw up that was made clear in the bus scene as well when she’s talking about the woman that’s writing a research paper and talks about what

 her mom would like. 

And there was also a moment where they talked about that earlier in the film, when they went out before they went out and sang karaoke. They kind of talked about expecting to be more and things like that. So she kind of proves to herself and really shocks herself when she takes that shot at the Dragon, I guess, is the evil Dragon or the monster of darkness, whatever you want to call it.

But when she took that shot and I knew it was going to be her because everybody else was obviously losing and she was the last hope. So, when she took that shot and it went through, it kind of proved to herself that she really could do what she wanted to do as long as she put her mind to it. She wanted to participate. She wanted to save her friends, and she shifted the momentum back on their side, allowing Shang-Chi to really believe in himself.

And I love the fact that he saved his sister and that he didn’t just give up on her because clearly after what had happened, she didn’t have to die. He just stalled long enough for Katy to take that shot. 

The flashing back and forth between the present and the past was, I think, very well done as well. Remember I mentioned that we didn’t learn right away about how his parents met. Maybe I didn’t mention that, but we see how his parents met, but we don’t see the whole backstory. 

His mother is telling them that story in the beginning and then it’s told later on and the way that it goes back and fills in all of those holes, we see it from both perspectives.and so we see how Whenwu is created and how she decided to leave Ta Lo because they wouldn’t accept him into the village to live there because of his past sins, living as the owner and operator of these ten rings and causing mass destruction. 

And compromise with her, he removes the ten rings and doesn’t wear them until after she dies and when she dies, he puts them on and never takes them off. And it was the rings that ended up luring him back to the village under false pretense that his wife was being kept behind that gate. And the funny thing to me was that he’s beating this door down and these creatures are coming out, but he’s not seeing, I guess he’s not seeing or not aware, not caring about what’s coming out of it. And it really just breaks your heart almost as if you don’t want him to tear the gate down but at the same time, you feel so bad because you understand the reason why he’s doing it. 

And then you’ve got Shang-Chi, who loves his father despite everything that’s going on, and he doesn’t want to kill his own father and I was really glad that it didn’t end up going that way. I knew there was no way that a Marvel movie was going to end up going that way with its backing from Disney, so, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. 

I enjoyed the way that they played that out. It was really sad to watch his father get his soul sucked out and I was equally terrified when the dragon was getting his soul sucked out and they’re like, if it takes the soul of our dragon–I was like, no, don’t take the soul of the dragon! And so that was a big, intense moment for me. I was like, oh my gosh, are they going to save it? 

It was an intense movie at the end, the action was amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed overall every aspect of this film, as I mentioned, little to no mistakes, and overall, just a wonderful, enjoyable cinematic experience. 

All right, let’s get into some “did you know?” facts. 

Aside from the fact that Awkwafina played Raya. Well, she didn’t play Raya, my bad. She played Sisu. I can’t remember the name of the Dragon, but she played the Water Dragon, and so all I could think of when I saw that Dragon was that Awkwafina was the Water Dragon.

So aside from that little fact. [Laughs] in the late 80s, Stan Lee wanted to create a Shang-Chi TV series with Brandon Lee as the star. Shang-Chi was visually based on Bruce Lee, so Brandon seemed fitting, but it never got made. 

Simu Liu tweeted in 2018, asking Marvel to cast him in a role, and in 2019 he reposted that tweet with a thank you attached to it.

And the funny scene in the film when Shang-Chi comes out without a shirt was a nod to how the character appeared in the first run of the comic, which also was an homage to Bruce Lee films, where Lee often fought shirtless. 

Simu Liu had experience with Taekwondo, gymnastics and Wing Chun before the film, but in preparation for the role, he trained in Tai Chi, Wushu, Muay Thai, Pencak silat,  Krav Maga Jiu Jitsu, boxing and street fighting.

Meng’er Zhang met and married action designer Yung Lee while making the movie. Met and married by the end of the film by the time it had wrapped. To celebrate Simu Liu took everyone to Disneyland while Awkwafina took everyone to Karaoke, which was kind of a homage to what they did in the film. 

That is all I have for you on this one, remember to let me know what you think on the episode polls or find me on Twitter @REELfilmpkc to let me know your thoughts. 

Thanks for listening, everyone.

 I’ll catch you next time. 

Outro

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Transcription service by Podcasting Network.

Happy watching everyone.

Published by Kris C.

Kris is the host of the REEL Film Reviewed podcast, the owner of REEL ProduCtions, LLC, (the capital C is intentional) and is an independent filmmaker.

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