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Entertainment & Media

Marvel’s Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: Cultural Identity Done Right

By Alain Deen

Volume 2 Issue 1

October 8, 2021

Marvel’s Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: Cultural Identity Done Right

Image provided by Marvel

Watching Marvel’s “Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” was both a refreshing and vivid experience. It is a film that dives deep into the roots of Asian American culture, as well as Chinese culture in general. Interestingly enough, I am not a Marvel fan. I know of many Marvel characters, their abilities, and general story lines. However, I classify myself as an average viewer looking only for the occasional Marvel entertainment. This is exactly what the film provided for my friends and me. It serves as an origin story, making the film rather easy to follow. On top of that, I grew attached to the characters with ease. In my book, that is the pinnacle of a great film.

A film with intricate fight scenes, themes of familial strife, and a stunning performance by Awkwafina (who played Katy), Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings offers most attributes I look for in an origin story. The film follows Shang-Chi, who also goes by Shaun (Simu Liu), who resides in what is now present-day San Francisco with his friend Katy. While living a rather normal life, Shang-Chi is later forced to face the ramifications of his past. An epic journey ensues, during which we discover more and more about the origins of Shang-Chi as a character. Additionally, we are introduced to a wide range of characters on this epic journey, such as Shang-Chi’s sister Xialing, as well as the loveable Trevor Slattery and his Dijiang pet Morris. The film also has cinematography way ahead of its time. If I were to have a tier list of the best fight sequences of all time, the bus rodeo in this film would be up there. If there was one word to describe it: herculean.

Let’s talk culture. I thought this film portrayed Asian American and Chinese culture beautifully. The subtle themes of familial bonding, accompanied with language, love, and sacrifice make the film all the better. On another note, the film was the first to have an entire Asian cast, making it revolutionary in its own sense. Not only that, but it is also the first Marvel film to contain an Asian lead. Because of this, the film has a wider appeal, which allows it to be a box-office bonanza. It has made $364.3 million at the box office so far.

Overall, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” proves to be a cinematic masterpiece. I highly recommend it. It really is a beautiful showcase of Asian culture, and I am sure that there will be more greatness to come.

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