Trust me. That’s a good thing.

There’s a lot of good to be said about Shang-Chi and not much bad. And honestly, the bad stuff isn’t really bad, it’s just stuff that could have used improvement. Is it worth one viewing? Absolutely. Is it going to be come your new favorite Marvel movie? Um… maybe. But probably not. Check out the blow-by-blow below.

The Good

The acting across the board in this movie is pretty strong. No lines feel hashed in or underdelivered, but everyone acts their character in a way that feels authentic. The characters are a great blend of relatable, hilarious, hardcore, and wise. One of the better ensembles in the MCU, actually.

Speaking of authentic, the nothing about the central conflict of the film feels forced or derivative. Everything focuses on family and the results that violent conquest has on it, and people ultimately trying to redeem themselves of their past deeds. All character motives make sense, so plot unfolds naturally and beautifully.

Lastly, the fight choreography is spectacular–arguably some of the best in the MCU. Like the title of this review suggests, the movie acts like a kung fu movie before a Marvel movie, so there’s more of a focus on tight fight coordination than spectacular CGI. At least in the first half of the movie.

The Bad

The second half of the movie is when it starts to slow down. The central conflict gets loaded on with some mystical mumbo jumbo, and of course that opens the door wide open for visual spectacle. This viewer wished they would have focused on the intimate moments of family and more one-on-one fight scenes, but that being said, the second half of the movie isn’t bad. It’s just not as good as the first.

Also, Ben Kingsley’s comic relief character and his adorable animal sidekick fall a little flat. They add to the funny/adorable meter a little bit, but don’t really do much to push the needle noticeably. The movie probably could have gotten along without them just fine with some minor adjustments.

The Verdict

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is absolutely worth viewing once. Is it something you’ll want to revisit again and again like Thor Ragnarok or Guardians of the Galaxy? Maybe not, but it comes pretty darn close. Definitely one of the more authentic Marvel films with some great characters and exhilarating fight scenes.

Overall score: 7/10

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