Simu Liu in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. (Marvel) Its anti-Western formula will find favor in China.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is sly, globalist trash. Marvel-Disney shamelessly attempt to repeat the same segregation bonanza it pulled off with the silly ethnic hoax Black Panther. Problem is, Black Panther’s relatively novel concept imagined the faux African kingdom Wakanda, whereas Shang-Chi pilfers from already familiar and much more original and artistic Chinese martial-arts genre movies — reducing them to the level of Marvel junk.
San Francisco car-hop Shaun (born Shang-Chi, played by the nondescript but athletic Simu Liu) at first reluctantly reclaims his family’s superpower legacy, particularly that of his wayward father Xu Wenwu (Tony Chiu-Wai Leung). This juvenile heroes-and-villains, back-to-the-homeland setup overloads the Marvel Comics trademark with phony indigenous-culture gravitas.
Black Panther’s naïve fans let Marvel get away with portraying Afrocentric fantasy as both pretend-history and the Afro-punk future (catnip to an ignorant generation so desperate for any folklore to call its own that it submits to Hollywood’s escapist propaganda). But Shang-Chi will need viewers who pretend they’ve never seen better than this poor Hollywood imitation of Hong Kong movie mastery, which has a long tradition.
After enjoying Hong Kong movie thrills, whether A Touch of Zen, Chinese Ghost Story, Ashes of Time, Hero, or even Ang Lee’s synthetic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the mangy copycat Shang-Chi can’t help but seem third-rate — if not downright foreign.
Running longer than two hours, Shang-Chi makes narrative detours into the past, initially to pad out its protagonist’s character but mainly to display bogus ancient Chinese characteristics (such as the titular “Ten Rings,” which are exotic, magically empowering talisman). It exploits ethnic ethos to make Shaun/Shang-Chi blend into Marvel’s franchise of motley eccentrics. Another market conquered.
Yet there’s clearly a bigger intent than just entertaining the kids with sci-fi enchantment. Through the enervating excess of trite jokes and inane fight scenes, Marvel and Disney also practice insidious racial indoctrination — Karate Kid–level piety that, for the non-Marvel fan, pounds the brain like an
Continue reading on National Review