Comments Off on Shang-Chi

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021), or simply Shang-Chi, is but another film in Disney’s long line of Marvel Comics movies. As Disney continues to mine its subsidiary Marvel for more intellectual properties, Disney also begins to gentrify its version of the superhero genre more and more. Gradually these films begin to look and feel more like Disney animated features than like action blockbusters. But this is hardly the biggest problem with Shang-Chi.

The biggest issue with Shang-Chi, a film very much caught up in Disney’s efforts to appear more progressive in terms of racial representation, is that it isn’t willing to totally embrace any of the martial arts movie genres. Instead Shang-Chi grabs a little bit of everything in terms of martial arts techniques and folds them into the choreography of their brand specialty: the drab action sequences. This is particularly odious since Michelle Yeoh has a featured role in this film.

Tony Leung, making his American film debut, is equally wasted as the villain of the piece. He is an actor of tremendous gifts who is asked to do little more than mumble a handful of lines and spin around on cables in front of a green screen. He has almost nothing to do in Shang-Chi dramatically and is therefore unable to establish a rapport with any of his co-stars. Leung, like Yeoh, feels like token casting on Disney’s part. As if by including these superstars of Hong Kong and Chinese cinema Disney could further legitimize their aesthetically bankrupt Marvel franchise.

Watching Shang-Chi is, at best, a nauseating experience. Disney is just going through the motions selling their brand and people just eat it up without question. In a society that is supposedly moving forward how can we let an oppressive capitalist monolith like Disney exist?