Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Review


It’s time to finally take a look at the latest Marvel installment, Shang Chi. This one’s been getting a lot of hype for the hand to hand fights and it delivers on this. It’s got a great balance of action and humor so in the end this movie has a ton of replay value. You’ll have a blast from start to finish as you go through the journey.

The movie starts by introducing us to Shang Chi’s father Wenwu as he wipes out army after army. The opening scene is like something out of Dynasty Warriors as he can use his rings with such speed that it appears to be a forcefield which blocks incoming arrows. That was definitely implemented really well. After that he ends up meeting Wenwu and they get married. Shang Chi and Xu Xialing are born and we then cut to the present.

Shang Chi and his best friend Katy work for a hotel as they drive cars around and enjoy their job. They have a good bond of friendship going for them but Katy’s family want more for her. One day the two of them are attacked by a group of assassins. Shang Chi fights them off but not before they steal his pendant. This means that Xu may be the next target so the two head off to go and help protect her. Can they protect her from this group led by Shang Chi’s father or is she already doomed?

Right off the bat the opening fight scene in the modern day sets the tone well. It’s really good with minimal use of cutaways so you can follow the choreography. Even as someone who did think that the Black Widow fights were really good, it’s night and day compared to this one. The hand to hand is very high energy and the train fight is probably my favorite fight in the film. Likewise, Widow’s first big action scene was my favorite so I guess I just really like the way these films tend to open. they’re doing it right, that’s for sure.

The battles continue to be solid throughout the movie though. Whether it’s the fight on the roof top or the climactic showdown, you can always expect a lot of hype. While this is usually more of an anime movie trend, the movie even decides to go for a little Godzilla type action at the end. It’s not quite as solid as the rest of the fights but it’s always good to see the creatures getting some hype. I’d consider the battle before that to be the true final battle for the combat while this is more of a general climax.

The effects are definitely on point as well. The creatures have really epic designs and lighting for their attacks. I also like the way the rings are used in combat. It’s very much in the style of what you would see in the Tron films. It’s a very versatile weapon and if Shang Chi keeps those to use in combat for future films he is going to be very tough to beat. Certainly none of the street level fighters can handle him.

As for Shang Chi himself, he’s definitely a great lead. I did see some talk about him being too merciless and going for the kill, but I definitely didn’t see that. For the most part each fight is always from a self defense angle. Yeah you’ve got enemies being thrown out of buildings and moving buses but there’s no easy alternative there since he’s in the middle of a huge fight. So just putting my two cents into the ring to say that Shang Chi was definitely a full hero here and I didn’t find him to be going too far in any of the fights.

He does have a moment where he nearly does cross the line and the film’s clear in showing that he was about to, but ultimately he doesn’t. That would be the only true example you can use. His upbringing and origin do explain this fairly well though and he certainly had to deal with a lot. All in all, I thought he handled his past and present really well. Shang Chi’s the kind of guy you definitely want to have in your corner at all times. The movie also did a great job of showing just how good he is at hand to hand combat. Throughout the whole film it’s fair to say that he didn’t lose any fights straight up from the present and beyond. He always had the upper hand.

In the comics he was known as the greatest hand to hand fighter for a long time. I don’t know about currently, but at least in the days when I was reading comics. I imagine the films will be going that route too so this was a great way to show it. I look forward to seeing him interact with the other characters because he has a lot of good banter with Katy in this movie as well. Shang Chi’s very charismatic and that’s why I would put him as the best character in the film. Ultimately he really excels in all of his roles.

Katy is also a solid heroine. She has a lot of fun lines as well and knows not to take things too seriously. In general the film had a really fun script for all of the characters but in particular Katy is one of the characters that stands out. She even gets to contribute towards the end of the movie in an action setting which is nice.

Shang and Katy also have two friends in the film who only appear for two scenes but both are worth mentioning. It’s nice seeing the characters openly talk about their heroic exploits and everything rather than trying to hide them like you would expect. It’s a nice turn of events and it’s such a big contrast to how Peter Parker is handling the whole situation. Yeah the situations are a wee bit different I’ll grant you, Shang has less people he needs to worry about. Still, it’s a very Iron-Man type move which is always fun.

As for Wenwu, he’s definitely a very solid main villain. The movie’s going for more of a sympathetic vibe for him sort of like Thanos. Ultimately he did try to put his weapons away at one point and suffered the consequences for it so you can see why he never takes the rings off anymore. Honestly he probably never should have taken them off but that’s more of a hindsight thing and he was trying to do his best. So in the present you can definitely root for him because if there was even the slightest chance that he was correct then he had to check for himself.

So I don’t blame him for going as far as he did and that’s what makes him a high quality villain. He can also fight really well which is also nice to see. Old age hasn’t really hurt him in a lot of ways, he’s thousands of years old and still kicking. His wife Ying may only appear in flashbacks but she definitely looks really good as well. I liked her fighting style and the powers she used were quite impressive. It’s a shame that the powers can’t follow you out of the village because with them she would have been extremely hard to defeat. Her meeting/battle with Wenwu was a great way to introduce her.

Then you have Xu who is also solid. She did well to build her own empire for underground fights. I question how she is able to get in some heavyweights like Wong and Abomination but maybe there are a lot of benefits to being in the tournament. As a slight power levels issue, I do think the Abomination looked way too weak here. I’d like to say it’s a different Abomination to be honest. That’s my little head canon in case he never appears again because otherwise that scene did make me shake my head a bit. There are a lot of ways the fight could have had the same outcome but I wanted to tell the film to check it’s route at that moment.

It’s the only scene I questioned in that case though. All of the fights were presented well and everyone got their time to shine. Back to Xu, she definitely proved herself very well in a fight. Her skills may be a touch below Shang’s but they’re still quite formidable. She’s definitely not an opponent you want to underestimate.

In general the film had a fairly stacked cast and that’s definitely a big part of why the film is so solid. Even the side characters are fairly memorable like one of Wenwu’s main subordinates who is missing a hand. He’s definitely a solid minion. There’s also Trevor who does have an effective opening scene but I will say that he’s best in small doses. I don’t think you really needed him in the film after a little while.

All right, now these next 3 paragraphs will quickly be for spoilers. If you haven’t seen the film yet or the recent MCU shows then definitely skip these three paragraphs. It’s going to be time to do a little speculating here. All right, so I’ve noticed a bit of a trend here. In Wandavision we saw Scarlet Witch as the main villain as she knowingly tortured a whole town of civilians and by the end of the show she’s getting sucked into the DarkHold. In the Cap & Winter Soldier show, we found out at the very end that Sharon is actually compromising the U.S. intelligence for money and is a fairly reputable information broker in the under world. Finally in the Loki show we see Sylvie turn to the darkness at the very end and set course for a new timeline. (At best you could say she just made a dubious call and isn’t as downright evil as the first two but it’s a tough case to make) Here, we end the film with Xu taking over the 10 Rings instead of disbanding them for presumably shady reasons.

You can cut Xu some slack but if this trend is anything to go by, she will be a villain soon. So, what is going on here? Are these all isolated incidents or is something going on here? Personally, I think it’s going to be something like the MCU version of the Sinister Six. It’s going to be a group of 6 female villains who band together to take over the world or something. Wanda brings the power, Sharon has the intel, Xu has the manpower, and Sylvie has more magic which is never a bad thing. For the trend to continue, we’ll need to see if some other players are introduced in Eternals, She Hulk, Spider-Man, or Dr. Strange. Still, it does seem like something’s going on.

Also, while Nick Fury was the main figure head for the first few phases as he connected everything, it seems more and more like that will now be the role for Dr. Strange. He’s going to have a role in the Spider-Man film, Wong is here in Shang Chi setting up some future elements, and you’ve also got the Dr. Strange film coming up. Seems like the Sorcerer Supreme is going to have to start earning his paycheck as the ultimate sorcerer with everyone messing around in the universe. It’ll definitely be interesting to see how that unfolds. End spoilers

I can’t close out the review without also mentioning that the soundtrack was really solid. There were a lot of great tunes here and so I thought the music selection was absolutely on point. The scene of the guy stepping out of the car only for us to see that it wasn’t Shang Chi was also a good fake out. Again, the film’s humor was always on point so even when there weren’t big fight scenes you were having a lot of fun.

Overall, Shang Chi definitely lives up to the hype here and is a great film in this phase of the MCU. I really didn’t have any issues with it and I’m certainly ready to see him start appearing in more of the films going forward. Shang Chi could easily work as one of the central figures going forward since I can see him having good banter with just about anyone. There’s still a whole lot you can do with the Ten Rings as well and we’ll see which film is the first to connect to this one. It’s the MCU so you can bet that there are a lot of plans in the works. If you haven’t seen this film yet then you’ll definitely want to change that.

Overall 8/10

Enter the Dragon Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

Enter The Dragon is a pretty interesting movie. Right away you’ll be reminded of Mortal Kombat as you’re watching through it. From the tournament to the island itself, it just feels like that one although of course the Mortal Kombat original film is a living legend so this one isn’t quite up to par there. This one definitely gets more violent and incorporates a bunch of rather dark elements. It may pale next to MK but it does deliver on some big fights.

The movie starts off with an agent approaching Lee with a mission. He wants Lee to go to a private island and enter a tournament run by the villainous Han. Han is effectively the leader of an underground criminal enterprise. The issue is that there is no proof of him actually doing any wrongdoing. Effectively it’s an open secret but the guy is technically protected. No weapons are allowed on the island either so your best chance is to be a living weapon.

Lee is one of the most powerful fighters in his Dojo and that is why he has been selected. The leader of the dojo also encourages Lee to go because Han was originally trained here and has brought disgrace to them all. Lee is still reluctant but then the agent takes out his trump card. Han is directly responsible for the death of Lee’s sister. Han ordered a few of his men to take her down and this is something Lee did not know about previously. He agrees to go and sets off to murder them all.

Now while this is a tournament film you don’t actually see any big battles for a while. Most of the film is actually for set up as we meet the other fighters. Each fighter has a backstory. You have Roper who loves gambling but is now super in debt. He needs to win this tournament so he gets a lot of cash again. Then you have Williams who got into a lot of trouble back home and this can help him jump start a new identity. They all have reasons for winning but of course Lee’s is the most personal.

It’s not as widespread with characters as Mortal Kombat though as anyone outside of these main 3 are definitely expendable. The movie does make sure to show that they are all quite skilled in their own right although I don’t think there is ever any doubt that Lee would defeat the other two. Lee is very impressive in the battles so it’s worth the wait once you get to that section. He’s also the most likable member of the main 3. He takes the whole situation very seriously.

I wasn’t a big fan of the other two but they’re okay. Roper can fight well too and gets some quality moments. He isn’t as much of an active participant as Lee but he gets the job done when it’s time to move out. Williams also gets a big role and even has a chance to confront Han directly. That may not have been the best move for him but it was a good fight. Ultimately it’s just hard to beat someone who has a robotic part at the ready.

As for Han himself, well he’s your classic evil villain straight up. The guy runs every kind of criminal business imaginable and seems to enjoy his work quite a bit. The guy is also pretty bold to be hosting a tournament every year, he’s basically calling the other countries out by saying that they can’t touch him here. His robotic arm makes for a pretty good weapon in battle. Without it, it’s safe to say that Lee would dispatch him with ease. The guy has to use every trick in the book to even stand a chance here. Otherwise he would not have lasted for most of the film.

You’ve also got his right hand man O’Hara who can fight reasonably well. He had no shot against Lee though, that’s for sure. Especially once Lee knew that this guy was one of the main people responsible for the murder. The villains also had a fairly strong member of the police who is here to destroy anyone that doesn’t live up to Han’s expectations. There’s not a whole lot to him besides being tough though.

As mentioned, the film doesn’t hold back on the violence. Some times it isn’t quite on screen though as you can tell what is happening with the villain finishing someone off but it’s just out of camera. Other times you do see the blows so it depends, but the movie can be quite savage with these beat downs. This is definitely a martial arts film where anything goes which usually doesn’t bode well for the fighters.

The whole flashback with Lee’s sister is also pretty sad since there was really nobody to help her out. No matter how many blows she landed or opponents she knocked down, it felt like she was not making any headway through the mob. It’s good that she wasn’t captured since the film made it clear that this would not be a good fate. We see the villain’s operations as he gives Roper a tour and it’s quite disturbing.

These are all elements I’d rather have been cut from the film. Keep it focused on the fighting and how Han is someone that needs to be taken out. That’s about all you need. The other elements may serve to try and up the stakes but the film gets almost depressingly dark with how much Han has already gotten away with. The death scenes also look and feel extremely painful. It shows why you do not want to be on this island at all. We don’t need to know about people vanishing or turning up in the river the next day. With a villain mastermind you can already deduce that he is not exactly the nicest guy around so a lot of things are happening behind the scenes.

The film is at its best when it is focusing on Lee running around and finding out intel. The film does well as it gets that espionage angle on point. The music is also pretty solid. Quite a few solid tunes can be found here and they have a nice blend of different sounds. As mentioned, the fights are pretty great as well. You can expect some really solid hand to hand action here without a doubt. The writing is on point as well. I’m not sure if there are going to be a lot of lines you’ll remember specifically but they flow well.

Overall, Enter The Dragon is very much like watching another version of Mortal Kombat. Of course I would recommend watching that film instead but if you just want a lot of good fights these are almost as good. A hand to hand fight is always a lot of fun and the final battle here is quite long. Naturally Han has to use more tricks up his sleeve to make this close so expect a lot of trick mirrors. He knows that he needs these in order to keep things interesting but otherwise it would get dicey for him. The movie has too many things holding it back from being higher but if you don’t mind things getting rather dark and gritty then you can expect a solid martial arts title here.

Overall 4/10