Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings: What say the critics?

(Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios.)

2020 was a difficult year for moviemakers and cinephiles alike and 2021 has presented its own level of difficulties. So far, only a handful of studio-backed films have been released exclusively in theaters including titles such as Green Knight and Free Guy (among others). Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, Marvel Studios’ first solo superhero movie featuring an Asian lead and ensemble cast, will also be released exclusively in theaters on September 3, 2021. 

Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings stars Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, who must confront the past he thought he left behind when he is drawn into the web of the mysterious Ten Rings organization. The film also stars Tony Leung as Wenwu, Awkwafina as Shang-Chi’s friend Katy and Michelle Yeoh as Jiang Nan, as well as Fala Chen, Meng’er Zhang, Florian Munteanu and Ronny Chieng.

Critics have already had the privilege of early viewing and they are just raving about the film! As of writing this, the film is 92% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes based on 97 reviews. Here’s what critics are saying:

Nick Allen from says “Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, this film fits into Marvel packaging in its own way, but it has an immense soulfulness that other MCU movies, superhero movies, and action movies, in general, should take notes from. 

Shirley Li from The Atlantic believes Shang-Chi ultimately belongs to Leung. He’s not just the star of the film’s opening—in his hands, Wenwu’s devastation catalyzes the action and permeates every frame, turning the film into a tragedy. He becomes the character around whom all others revolve, whether he’s in the scene or not. That’s how sorrow works, after all; it radiates. And Leung’s performance, like so many in his career, lingers long after the credits end.”

Peter Hartlaub from San Francisco Chronicle states “At some point during one of the best car chase scenes in San Francisco movie history, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings makes at least one thing gloriously clear: Today, you will be getting your money’s worth at the movies.”

Leah Greenblatt from Entertainment Weekly says “It seems important to acknowledge that the release of a movie as Marvel-massive as Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (in theaters Sept. 3) marks a major step forward for Asian representation on screen. It also feels important to note that it is fun: a Technicolor whirlwind of a film whose explosive fight choreography and dense mythology are leavened by a sweet and surprisingly nimble script.”

John Wenzel from Denver Post says, “it’s a refreshing lift for this next phase of Marvel’s world domination. You leave genuinely wanting to see more of Shang-Chi, even as we know we’ll be meeting him again very soon.”

Laura Sirikul from Empire Magazine declares, “Although there are many mystical elements, Shang-Chi thrives when the scenes are rooted in the real world, especially in its fight sequences. The action is fantastic, thanks to fight coordinator Andy Cheng and supervising stunt coordinator, the late Brad Allan, to whom the film is dedicated, the choreography the best yet in the MCU.”

Olly Richards from Time Out says, “Shang-Chi is one of the better Marvel intros. Thor and Captain America both debuted in films less assured than this, and look how they developed. Shang-Chi would be a welcome addition to any future Marvel movie. This comic book hero also-ran has the potential to be a major player in the MCU.”

Peter Debruge from Variety decares, “Shang-who? The most obscure Marvel Cinematic Universe character to get his own stand-alone movie to date, the comic book mega-company’s “Master of Kung Fu” may not be a household name (not yet, at least), but you wouldn’t know that from Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, a flashy, Asian-led visual effects extravaganza that gives the second-tier hero the same over-the-top treatment that big-timers like Hulk and Thor typically get. The result broadens the brand’s spectrum of representation once again, offering audiences of Asian descent the kind of empowerment for which “Black Panther” paved the way a few years back.”

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Of course, you can’t please everyone and haters gonna hate. Here’s what the naysayers are saying:

Jordan Hoffman of ScreenCrush declares, “Unfortunately, the latest Marvel picture, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, isn’t all that good either. It has a few martial-arts sequences that are terrific, features an outstanding turn from Awkwafina, and has no shortage of cool-looking costumes and props. But I am afraid to report that, at a fundamental level, this movie lumbers along with a weighted-down plot obsessed with backstory. The lack of forward momentum leaves you wondering “Gee, when the heck is this movie actually going to start”? When it does, it’s another sludgy-looking CGI-fest with a big portal.”

Jake Cole of Slant Magazine says, “The essence of this film’s take on Shang-Chi, played by Simu Liu, is mostly the same as his comic-book counterpart, who made his debut in Special Marvel Edition #15 back in 1973: a martial-arts expert trained in various fighting styles by a father revealed to be a power-mad supervillain. But if Shang-Chi’s backstory and how it induces a moral crisis felt idiosyncratic on the page, here the superhero is rotely defined by the same “gifted kid” impostor syndrome as so many other self-doubting heroes in the MCU, from Star-Lord to Spider-Man.”

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, produced by  Kevin Feige and Jonathan Schwartz, written by David Callaham, Destin Daniel Cretton, and Andrew Lanham, and will be released ONLY in theaters on September 3, 2021. 


Joia DaVida reports on the entertainment industry in both Chicago and Los Angeles.