The first reviews for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings are in, and the consensus is clear: The first Phase 4 entry might just have the best action sequences of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Starring Simu Liu as the classic Marvel Comics hero and directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, Shang-Chi is Marvel’s first foray into the martial arts genre, and judging by the reviews pouring in, they nailed it.
Here’s a spoiler-free taste at what critics are saying, and definitely give a click or two to the full reviews if you want to read more about the first proper entry in Marvel’s next film slate after wrapping up the epic Infinity Saga.
Mike Ryan, Uproxx:
… Simu Liu, who, let’s say, over the past year has expressed confidence on social media about his performance (a confidence, I should add, I’m quite envious of), well he backs it up in the final product. He has both a swagger of a screen presence and pulls off some nifty stunt work that makes the action in Shang-Chi the best I’ve seen in an MCU movie. In that there is actual action going on in this movie, as opposed to just CGI action.
Angie Han, The Hollywood Reporter:
Shang-Chi, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, attempts to shake up the Marvel formula by infusing it with martial-arts action and fairy-tale fantasy and grounding it in Chinese and Asian American culture. And while its disparate elements don’t meld together as smoothly as they should, they do, in the end, add up to a superhero movie fresh and fun enough to feel worth a spin.
Peter Debruge, Variety:
The real star here is Marvel, of course. Good on it for leveraging its popularity to help launch some fresh Asian talent (including indie director Destin Daniel Cretton). To mitigate the risk, Marvel tapped Asian action icons Michelle Yeoh and Tony Leung to play Shang-Chi’s aunt and dad, respectively, and paired [Simu] Liu with bigger name Awkwafina as wisecracking bestie Katy. If the film’s a hit, it’ll send an even louder message to Hollywood than the success of “Crazy Rich Asians” did.
Nancy Wang Yuen, Gizmodo:
Shang-Chi—as the first Asian American superhero to headline a film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe—is a necessary and worthy addition to the pantheon and Hollywood as a whole. He brings unmatched fighting skills and never takes himself too seriously—earning him the right to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the full roster of MCU superheroes. Not to mention how thrilling it is to see a new group of badass Asian women ready to shake up the movie-verse.
Pete Hammond, Deadline:
Captain America, Iron Man, Black Panther and all those other Avengers might as well move over and make room for Shang-Chi, as the MCU has a new franchise and a welcome new direction post-Endgame. This thoroughly engaging reimagination of the Marvel comic book that debuted in the ’70s has been retrofitted for its movie debut, and the results are encouraging to say the least.
Kate Erbland, IndieWire:
Bolstered by the awe-inspiring fight choreography of recently deceased second unit director and bonafide stunt action badass Brad Allan (the film is dedicated to Allan, who passed away earlier this month), “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” doesn’t just boast the best action of the MCU, it manages to do it with two (two!) eye-popping action sequences that unspool before the film’s first act is over.
Joshua Rivera, Polygon:
In its first half, it’s a remarkably well-paced action film, and a serviceable family drama with comedy elements. In its second, it’s a surprising but languid fantasy film where, as with Black Widow before it, the expectations of a Marvel finale clash with the rest of the story. That said, as the first MCU film set firmly post-Endgame since 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home (a Sony production), Shang-Chi is refreshing in how little it’s concerned with big-picture universe-building details. Instead, the movie focuses on an extremely personal story that also implies exciting things about the future of Marvel movies.
Joan E. Solsman, CNET:
Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a globe-trotting martial arts romp. Like Black Panther before it, Shang-Chi lays its groundwork in the best elements of a Marvel movie and then transcends them with specificity all its own. Playfully blending genres and balancing action with jokes and story, it’s best kind of summer popcorn flick.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings arrives in theaters on September 3.