Monday, September 13, 2021

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Yup, I saw this movie. And despite the fact that it was further evidence that the American audience continues to lag behind the Chinese audience in importance to the global entertainment industry – and the closely related fact that watching it is as much a reading exercise as a visual spectacle – I was thoroughly entertained.

The visual spectacle is, after all, there. The exotic scenery, creatures, fight scenes, and special affects are all on point. The characters are attractive. The story is entertaining. The cast is good, their personalities and relationships fun to see. It all comes together into what I reckon to be a better comic-based movie than any of the ones I've seen in quite while. And that's despite the only actors in it whom I can name off the top of my head being Michelle Yeoh and Ben Kingsley.

What else can I say about the story? It starts in the West, moves to the East, has something to do with a preposterous legend about a set of magical bracelets that give their wearer all kinds of powers, and comes to a head in a fantasy universe where a danger beckons that could destroy all the worlds, including ours. And everything ultimately depends on a kid who trained as an assassin from age 7 to age 14, and then ran away to become a carhop.

Since I'm having trouble with my computer at the moment and I don't want to lose my mind before I'm done writing this, I'll cut straight to the Three Scenes That Made It For Me: (1) Hero guy Shawn, a slacker in San Francisco, suddenly emerges as a martial arts whiz in a fight on a city bus and his bestie Katie (maybe girlfriend?) is like, "Who the hell are you?" (2) A crazy fight scene on a scaffolding high up on the side of a skyscraper in Macao. (3) The moment during the climactic melee when the surviving bad guys decide to join forces with the surviving good guys to fight a common enemy.

Bonus scene: Framing scenes in which Shawn and Katie get together with their friends at a club. The first time, the friends are like, "You guys have so much potential and it's all going to waste. When are you going to do something serious with your lives?" At the end, they're like, "What is this crap about saving the multiverse with archery skills you learned in one day and a previously undiscussed talent for riding dragons?"

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