REview: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) | At Times an Uneasy Juggling Act

Last week I chose to see the reboot of Candyman (2021) over Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and while the former was not terribly scary, it wasn’t a decision that I regretted.

Partially because the aspirations of Shang-Chi seemed a bit high (I tend to watch movies because I enjoy watching movies, not because they seemingly represent the aspirations of an entire group of people – which might cause one to recall that I saw Black Panther (2018) in theaters; a movie which I enjoyed (though not to the degree that a card-carrying African-American perhaps should).

Though setting aside the nonsense, I enjoyed Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Speaking of which, supposedly the reason Marvel Studios went with rings around the wrists, as opposed to the fingers, was to distance the character of The Mandarin (and it’s The Mandarin, not ‘the Mandarin.’) from some very racist associations.

Though it should be kept in mind that this is a battle that Marvel has engaged in before in their depiction of ‘the Ancient One’ in Doctor Strange (2016) and in that instance they blinked as well.

And it’s a pity because racism existed before Marvel Studios and I’m reasonably certain it’ll be around long after Marvel movies are a memory in the minds of fanboys everywhere so they might as well acknowledge it, while taking the present into account (which is to say keeping the Ancient One Asian and giving The Mandarin rings around the fingers instead of the wrist; own the racism instead of pretending it isn’t there. Give these characters the dignity and respect they should have received in the first place).

That being said, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was pretty good and while I most preferred it when it wasn’t dealing with CGI excess, I also have to admit that ‘the Great Protector’ needs it’s own movie because for a CGI Chinese dragon it’s pretty damn impressive.

And while I’m in a confessional mood I have to admit that for a moment it gave me Aquaman-adjacent vibes, which isn’t a good thing because I despised that movie though Daniel Dustin Cretton is better with working with humans than James Wan, so it just works better (though Cretton wasn’t trying to jam 12 or 13 subplots into his movie – an exaggeration, though it doesn’t feel like it).

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