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At The Movies: ‘Rings’ a ding, ding

“Shang-Chi: The Legend Of The Ten Rings” is, as the title implies, an origin film. It introduces the movie-goer to mythical characters and their origin.

“Shang-Chi” takes us into the realm of the 10 rings mentioned in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film, “Iron Man” (2008).

The movie orbits in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, albeit the outer limits, somewhere in the vicinity of Uranus, or Pluto, or perhaps even in a galaxy far, far away.

“Shang-Chi,” 25th film in the MCU, is lavish in sets and costumes, has spectacular special effects, incredible martial arts scenes, mythical dragons and creatures in all their Computer Generated Imagery “gory,” and, oh yes, there are those, 10, count ‘em, 10 rings.

Rings a ding, ding.

“Shang-Chi” is the first Marvel film with an Asian lead and an Asian director (Destin Daniel Cretton, who co-wrote the screenplay with Dave Callaham and Andrew Lanham from a story by Cretton and Callaham) based on Marvel comics characters created by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin.

The majority of the lead actors in “Shang-Chi” are Asians portraying Asian characters. The impact of “Shang-Chi” in the United States’ Asian-American community, is expected to be like that of MCU’s “Black Panther” (2018) in the African-American community.

Because there are numerous subtitles of Chinese language spoken by the characters, “Shang-Chi” seems more like a foreign film. With a preponderance of martial arts scenes, it could be seen as a big-budget version of what used to pejoratively be called a “Hong Kong chop-socky” film.

“Shang-Chi” depicts a variety of martial arts, fighting, stunt work, exercise and sport, including taekwondo, gymnastics, Wing Chun, tai chi, wushu, Muay Thai, silat, Krav Maga, jiu-jitsu, MMA, rope dart, boxing and street-fighting.

The elegant wushu style was seen in ”Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000). The fight choreography in “Shang-Chi” is amazing and recalls the cinema work of great Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan.

Some of the battalions depicted on battlefields in “Shang-Chi” display martial arts fighting reminiscent of medieval battle scenes and those in “Braveheart” (1995) of a Akira Kurosawa film (“Seven Samurai,” 1954.

A stunning metro bus driving sequence, with martial arts fighting on board, careening up and down the streets of San Francisco recalls “Bullitt” (1968) and “Speed” (1994).

Scenes of battling dragons recall “Godzilla” and “Harry Potter” films.

“Shang-Chi” is not only about those “Rings,” which admittedly give the film, ahem, its tone.

The storyline is about relationships, between father and son, between mother and son, between husband and wife, between brother and sister and between platonic friends of the opposite sex.

These are the real 10 rings, the rings of relationships that define human experience.

“Shang-Chi” is more nuanced than many action-fantasy movies.

Cretton brings a sensitivity to themes of generational misunderstanding and post-traumatic stress syndrome to “Shang-Chi,” some of which he explored in his previous films (“I’m Not A Hipster,” 2012; “Short Term 12,” 2013; “The Glass Castle,” 2017; “Just Mercy,” 2019).

These themes thread throughout “Shang-Chi” in the screenplay by Creton and Lanham, with whom Creton previously worked. Lanham wrote the screenplays for “The Glass Castle” and “Just Mercy.”

Callaham has solid superhero and fantasy screenplay credentials, having written screenplays for “Mortal Kombat” (2021), “Wonder Woman 1984” (2020), “The Expendibles” franchise (2014, 2012, 2010), the story for “Godzilla” (2014) and the story and screenplay for “Doom” (2005).

“Shang-Chi” has the actors to pull it all together and advance the story.

The film stars Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, title character and heir to the powers of the 10 rings bestowed upon his father, Xu Wenwu (Tony Leung), leader of the Ten Ring organization.

Liu has a strong but unimposing presence, mixed with humor and charm.

Leung is solid as a bad guy as complex as he is misguided.

Awkwafina stars as Katy, a friend of Shang-Chi, whom she knows as Shaun. In San Francisco, they work as hotel parking valets. Awkwafina is always a joy to see on-screen with her expressive face and effortless quip delivery, which provides a lot of the film’s chuckles.

The supporting cast includes Meng’er Zhang as Shang-Chi’s sister Xu Xialing; Fala Chen as Shang-Chi’s mother Ying Li; Michelle Yeoh as Ying Nan, Shang-Chi’s aunt and guardian of the domain of Ta Lo; Florian Munteanu as Razor Fist, a member of the Ten Rings, and Ben Kingsley as Trevor Slattery, who posed as the Mandarin in “Iron Man 3” (2013).

“Shang-Chi” has a lot to offer. Sometimes too much. A pendant-dependent plot line about stolen pendants is dropped early on. Numerous flashbacks of lead characters in their younger years are sometimes confusing. Scenes toward the film’s conclusion with battling dragons, you might say (or I would say) drag on.

“Shang-Chi” is legendary and epic. And it often feels epic. Still, “Shang-Chi” is worth seeing, especially for fans of the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings,”

MPAA Rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers.) for sequences of violence and action, and language ; Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy; Run time: 2 hr., 12 min.; Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Studios.

Credit Readers Anonymous (CRA):

Members of CRA get their money’s worth with “Shang-Chi: The Legend Of The Ten Rings,” which has not one but, count ‘em, three, teaser scenes. Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) and Katy (Awkwafina) step through a portal in a restaurant. Wong (Benedict Wong) explains their destiny. In the second scene, about mid-way through the end credits, Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) tell Shang-Chi and Katy what might be in store for them. In the third and final scene, Shangi-Chi’s sister Xu Xialing (Meng’er Zhang) presides over a courtyard ceremony. At the end, it’s stated: “The Ten Rings Will Return.” “Shang-Chi” was filmed in Sydney and New South Wales, Australia; Macau, and San Francisco.

At The Movies:

“Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings” was seen in the Real 3D format at AMC Center Valley 16, Promenade Shops At Saucon Valley. Michael “Movie Maven Gontkosky and I wanted to see it in the 3D format since we hadn’t seen a 3D film for some time. The 3D format is not necessary to enjoy “Shang-Chi.” Only a few scenes, mostly at the beginning and end, include rings zooming toward the audience. Moreover, the movie, which has many darkly-lit scenes, seems to be even darker in the 3D format, nullifying the 3D effects or making them superfluous. The credits indicate “3D Conversion,” which might indicate that the film wasn’t filmed with 3D cameras.

Theatrical Movie Box Office,

Sept 10-12: “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” ran rings around the competition, No. 1 for two weeks in a row with $35.7 million, in 4,300 theaters, $145.6 million, two weeks, as “Free Guy” moved up one place to No. 2 with $5.8 million, in 3,650 theaters, $101.8 million, five weeks, and “Malignant” opened at No. 3 with $5.5 million, in 3,485 theaters, one week.

4. “Candyman” dropped two places, $4.8 million, in 3,279 theaters, $48 million, three weeks. 5. “Jungle Cruise” dropped one place, $2.4 million, in 2,800 theaters, $109.9 million, seven weeks. 6. “PAW Patrol: The Movie,” $2.2 million, in 2,820 theaters, $34.6 million, four weeks. 7. “Don’t Breathe 2” dropped one place, in 1,708 theaters, $30.2 million, five weeks. 8. “The Card Counter,” $1.1 million, in 580 theaters, opening. 9. “Show Me The Father, $700,000, in 1,073 theaters, opening. 10. “Respect” dropped three places, $503,000, in 1,307 theaters, $23.1 million, five weeks.

Box office information from Box Office Mojo as of Sept. 12 is subject to change.

Theatrical Movie Box Office,

Sept. 2-6: “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” opened at No. 1 for the Labor Day weekend, with $75.3 million, in 4,300 theaters, one week, dethroning “Candyman,” $10.3 million, in 3,569 theaters, $38.8 million, two weeks.

“Shang-Chi” had the second-highest opening in the COVID era. “Black Widow” opened with $80.3 million in July.

“Shang-Chi” was projected to set a four-day holiday weekend record with $83.5 million, breaking the previous Labor Day box-office record of “Halloween” $30.6 million in 2007.

3. “Free Guy” dropped one place, $8.8 million, in 3,885 theaters, $92 million, four weeks. 4. “Jungle Cruise” stayed in place, $4 million, in 3,075 theaters, $105.7 million, six weeks. 5. “PAW Patrol: The Movie” dropped two places, $4 million, in 3,004 theaters, $30 million, three weeks. 6. ”Don’t Breathe 2” dropped one place, $2.3 million, in 2,176 theaters, $28 million, four weeks. 7. “Respect” dropped one place, $1.2 million, in 2,107 theaters, $21.8 million, four weeks. 8. “The Suicide Squad” dropped one place, $912,000, in 1,561 theaters, $54.4 million, five weeks. 9. “Black Widow” moved up three places, $779,444, in 750 theaters, $182.5 million, nine weeks. 10. “The Night House” dropped one place, $521,296, in 1,020 theaters, $6.2 million, three weeks.

Box office information from Box Office Mojo as of Sept. 10 is subject to change.


Sept. 17:

“Cry Macho,”

PG-13: Clint Eastwood directs Dwight Yoakam, Fernanda Urrejola, Brytnee Ratledge and himself in the Drama, Thriller Western. A one-time rodeo rider teaches a young man life lessons.

“The Eyes of Tammy Faye,”

PG-13: Michael Showalter directs Jessica Chastain, Andrew Garfield, Vincent D’Onofrio and Cherry Jones in the Biography, Drama. The life of televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker is chronicled.

“Prisoners of the Ghostland,”

No MPAA rating: Sion Sono directs Nicolas Cage, Sofia Boutella, Nick Cassavetes and Bill Moseley in the Action, Horror Thriller. A criminal must break a curse to rescue an abducted girl.

“Best Sellers,”

No MPAA rating: Lina Roessler directs Michael Caine, Aubrey Plaza, Scott Speedman and Cary Elwes in the Comedy, Drama. A retired author goes on one last book tour.


R: Joe Carnahan directs Gerard Butler, Frank Grillo, Toby Huss and Tait Fletcher in the Action Thriller. A con artist hides out in a small-town police station.

“Blue Bayou,”

R: Justin Chon directs Alicia Vikander, Mark O’Brien, Randy Austin and himself in the Drama, A Korean-American man raised in the Louisiana bayou battles being deported.

“Lady of the Manor,”

R: Christian Long and Justin Long direct Ryan Phillippe, Melanie Lynskey, Judy Greer and Justin Long in the Comedy. A tour guide at an historic estate befriends the manor’s ghost.

“The Nowhere Inn,”

Bill Benz directs St. Vincent, Ezra Buzzington, Toko Yasuda and Chris Aquilino in the Comedy, Music, Drama, Horror, Thriller. A documentary film about singer-songwriter takes a strange direction.

“The Wonderful: Stories From The Space Station,”

No MPAA rating: Clare Lewins directs George Abbey, Ken Bowersox, Cady Coleman and Samantha Cristoforetti in the documentary. Astronauts talk about their life on the International Space Station.

“The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain,”

No MPAA rating: David Midell directs Frankie Faison, Steve O’Connell, Enrico Natale and Ben Marten in the Drama Thriller. Events lead to the death of an elderly bipolar African-American.

Movie opening dates from Internet Movie Data Base as of Sept. 10 are subject to change.

Three Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO COURTESY WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURES From left: Meng'er Zhang (Xu Xialing), Simu Liu (Shang-Chi), Awkwafina (Katy), “Shang-Chi: The Legend Of The Ten Rings.”