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He may not have exactly been a superhero name that ‘rolled off the tongue’ prior to his Marvel Cinematic Universe bow – but after this solidly entertaining first outing it will now.

Simu Liu’s skilled martial artist Shang-Chi has properly punched MCU’s Phase Four doors wide open – as this suitably marshals in future movies.

Like with Guardians of the Galaxy and the forthcoming Eternals, the origin story of the ‘Ten Rings’ would probably have been alien to most – outside of hardcore comic-book fanboys – but it proves to be an enthralling thrill-ride that gives plenty of nods to previous Marvel films.

Shang-Chi has lived under the radar in San Francisco – working with his best pal Katy (Ocean 8’s Awkwafina) as a car valet – after escaping the clutches of the Ten Rings organisation, led by his father Wenwu (Tony Leung) in China, after the death of his ‘enchantress’ mother Ying Li (Fala Chen) many years prior.

Wenwu is a powerful thousand-year-old crimelord – who has gone by many names including the iconic ‘Mandarin’ – that possesses the power of the ancient ten rings weapon, and was grooming his son to eventually take over his murky legacy.

But Shang-Chi’s past is about to catch up with him – and his sister Xu Xialing (Meng’er Zhang) who he left behind – with their father needing their mythical pendants to locate his now deceased-wife, who he believes has been calling to him from beyond the grave in her hidden sacred home village of Ta Lo.

But Shang-Chi believes his father is being driven by darker forces, and must get to his mother’s birthplace – where he meets up with his Auntie (played by Michelle Yeoh) and guardian of the mythical creature-housing land – before Wenwu looks to destroy it if he can’t find the answers he craves.

Along the way the movie adds a welcome freshness to the MCU, headlined by Liu and Awkwafina’s – who provides noteworthy comedic interludes – great on-screen chemistry, and some excellent martial arts fighting set-pieces. See the bus fight between Shang-Chi and Florian Munteanu’s (Creed II) Razor Fist as the perfect example.

The fantastical elements might take it a little bit away from the more mainstream Marvel comfort zone for some, but with it mopping up some loose ends, from the likes of Iron-Man 3 – Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin-impersonating Trevor Slattery gets a chance to redeem the ‘haters’ – to The Incredible Hulk (the Tim Roth-voiced Abomination even cameos), it nicely carries the universe forward. Primarily into 2022’s Dr Strange sequel – Benedict Wong’s Wong cameos in this – after the events of recent acclaimed TV series such as Wandavision and Loki.

It does plod a little in the middle third, but with likeable characters among an innovative storyline, Shang-Chi undoubtedly moves the needle in the right direction as the MCU rings the changes in truly competent trademark fashion.

Think Marvel crossed with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon...

Rating: 3.5/5

Gavin Miller

Showcase Cinema De Lux Peterborough, Out Now

Cast: Simu Liu, Tony Leung, Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang, Ben Kingsley, Florian Munteanu, Michelle Yeoh, Fala Chen, Benedict Wong & The Voice Of Tim Roth

Running Time: 2 Hrs 12 Mins

Director: Destin Daniel Cretton

Go to for all the latest film information & showtimes at Peterborough’s Showcase Cinema De Lux.


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