Writing Movie “WRONGS”
By Jim West
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton
Written by Dave Callahan,, Destin Daniel Cretton, and Andrew Lanham
Every since Black Panther (2018), Marvel has taken steps to craft villains that are not 100% evil. Villains which you can sort of see their perspective. This was handled well in Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019) with Thanos. Marvel again sticks to this formula with this film’s villain and they have seemed to really nail the formula here with this film. Even as some special effects are not so great, some action sequences serves only as a car advertisement, and one missed opportunity story wise…the character development on display here is topnotch. Therefore this film earns a Writing a Movie RIGHT review.
Here comes the spoilers.
The film opens with the introduction to the world of the ten rings and Wenwu (Tony Leung) who has lived hundreds of years toppling governments and amassing a fortune. He searches for the entrance of an ancient village of Ta Lo where magical beasts live. He hopes to expand his power and in his search he meets Ying Li who is a protector of the village. They fight, but end of falling in love. He gives up his thirst for power and puts away the ten rings and tries to have a regular life with Ying and their two children. A rival gang to the Ten Rings comes to his home and kills his wife which sets him on a path of revenge for his loss. This loss will haunt him for years and become part of the breaking point of their once happy family. He ruthlessly trains his kids to become assassins. They both run away from home and try to start their own lives, but get brought back home through a turn of events that again sets their paths to Ta Lo.
The film manages to show backstories well and uses flashbacks quite effectively. What is missing is simply the moment Shan-Chi killed his target and decided to run away. I believe the best story thread was to have it be Katy’s father. Then when he confesses he lied about not going through with the assassination hit, he also has to reveal to Katy that it was her father. That would have added a layer of complexity to the story. Then play with the theme of we are who we choose to be and forgiveness. Which the films nails with the father and son dynamic. It just needed to be reflected in all aspects and character relationships. Yet this doesn’t mean the film is not already a solid film. The only things that distract from the story line is the subpar special effects in certain sequences, and the worst ever car advertisement placement of the BMW they choose from a garage full of tremendous cars. Then the forest chase scene only serves as a advertisement for BMW. Just a waste of time. If you can overlook that, the rest of the film moves at a lightning pace. A better training montage would have helped a bit, but perhaps I am being too critical.
The cameos are well done and wonderful to see the humor on display. I am looking forward to where they take this character next, but I welcome the character development and complexity.
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