September 15, 2021
I was waiting for this, and Accented Cinema delivers yet again.
I walked out of Shang-Chi, honestly, feeling disappointed. (And I know I’m probably in the minority for saying this.) Don’t get me wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride; the fast pace, the humor, and the spectacular fight sequences (seriously some of the best Marvel has ever put out.)
Like the video, my favorite part by far was the opening act which took place in SF. And this wasn’t just any SF which so many other Hollywood films took place. This was an Asian American setting of SF, a real place where I have called home for almost a decade. I must have walked past that exact store and rode that bus line at least several dozen times. This, felt new, fresh, and it felt like we’re getting a different kind of Marvel hero, someone down to earth, friendly, relatable, and lives that Asian American experience. And Simu was the perfect cast for that (especially for those who have seen his Netflix show.)
That was by far the best part of the film, but unfortunately, it came to an end, albeit in a spectacular hot mess that was the crazy bus fight sequence.
Soon after that, they flew to China, and the rest of the movie dissolved into a disappointing series of tropes: fighting on bamboo scaffolding, daddy issues, a very typical-looking “Chinese small village”, world-ending magical monster locked behind ancient seal. The list goes on. Yes, I understand the film was trying to make references and “pay homage” to Chinese cinema, but it felt lazy and honestly old. This is a Marvel film. I expected that Marvel flavor. Instead, it felt like just another fantasy wuxia film by the end.
I grew up watching flowy-robe-clad heroes wielding magical swords using magical kungfu to defeat magical monsters; there are countless films out there. This could’ve been so much more. I didn’t want to see just another wuxia hero. What I wanted to see, and what Marvel could’ve given us, is a modern Asian American hero.