Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)

★★★★★ USA. 2h12m. Adventure. Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton. Written by Dave Callaham, Destin Daniel Cretton, Andrew Lanham (screenplay), and Dave Callaham, Destin Daniel Cretton (story). Based on Marvel comics. Produced by Kevin Feige, Jonathan Schwartz. Photographed by William Pope. Edited by Nat Sanders, Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, Harry Yoon. Music by Joel P. West. Starring Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Tony Leung, Meng’er Zhang, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Yeoh, Fala Chen, Florian Munteanu, Benedict Wong.

A measure of how far Marvel has come, whether compared to Iron Man (2008) — where we’re first introduced to the terrorist organization known as the Ten Rings — or compared to Iron Fist (2017-18) — where (admirable) attempts are made at an Asian-centric storyline. Shang-Chi is light, fun, and entertaining, largely due to Awkwafina stealing all her scenes, but Tony Leung and Michelle Yeoh anchor the film with grace and depth. Simu Liu is a better fighter than he is an actor, but his personality is so winning that he can get by on a slightly wooden performance. The FX is almost out of the uncanny valley, which it entered circa Phantom Menace. Still a little too cartoonish to look photorealistic.

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