The character of Shang Chi was originally introduced in Special Marvel Edition #15, December 1973. He was the son of the Chinese villain Fu Manchu and a genetically chosen White American woman. Shang Chi started training in the martial arts as a child to be a weapon for his father. As a young man, he was sent by his father to assassinate someone because his father told him this person was a threat to peace. Believing this Shang Chi murdered the man. Shang Chi was then told the truth about his father that he was in fact the evil man threatening peace. Shang Chi vowed to stop his father from that point on to gain the reputation of the Master of Kung Fu.
In short, that is the comic book version of the character. Now let’s talk about the movie,
Spoiler alert from this point on.
As with most comic-adapted movies, Marvel had to make some slight changes to the character and his origin to fit the silver screen. The changes made to Shang Chi actually fit the character better than the comic version.
In the movie version, Shang Chi’s story is basically the same except in the movie his mother is Chinese and from a mystical land. His character still is sent on a mission to kill someone but in this movie version, he feels guilt and runs away from his father to go into hiding. Movie Shang Chi is not out to bring his father to justice but only to leave that life behind. Until of course that life catches up to him.
Another big difference is the 10 rings. Up until now, the general thought was his father would be the real Mandarin from the comics which is a Chinese villain of Iron Man whose weapons are 10 rings on his fingers. If you remember, in Iron Man 3 this villain was discovered to be a fraud made up by a main bad guy as a deception.
In our movie Shang Chi, the rings are powerful bracelets that fit on your arms. This serves as a much better visual effect than a guy with powerful rings on his fingers. The power of the rings is a weapon to be reckoned with just as Tony Stark’s armor. The movie starts with Xu Wenwo, Shang Chi’s father, taking on a whole army with the rings on his own and causing many casualties. With the rings and other mystical effects, I would not be surprised if this movie is nominated for special effects awards.
One of the main things that was good about this movie was the cast. I truly believe that the Marvel Black Panther movie and the predominate all-Black cast opened the door for Marvel to put out a movie with a predominate all-Asian cast. All too often we see Asian movies with an all-Asian cast but there is that one White American character that must save the day. But this isn’t Big Trouble in Little China and Shang Chi easily saves the day.
Amkwafina stood out as Katy, Shang Chi’s best friend. She added the right amount of comic relief and action. When watching this movie, you will want a best friend like Katy because everyone should have a best friend like Katy. Simu Liu could have easily played this character like the strong silent brooding type, but he turned Shang Chi into a real-life believable character. His Shang Chi was not just a stiff master of martial arts who only had good scenes when he was fighting but a character with a little depth.
Tony Leung portrayed Xu Wenwu, Shang’s father and leader of the Ten Rings. His performance of the character had a level of arrogance mixed with narcissism that made him a formidable villain.
This wouldn’t be a Marvel movie without a few guest appearances so expect some favorites to pop up.
Overall, Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was Marvel taking its properties in the right direction once again. It is my hope that this movie does to the Asian community what Black Panther did to the Black community which is to show that minorities are more than just side characters and can carry an American action movie on their own.
In the comments tell us what you thought of Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Kenny Walker Jr