obiwansaccone’s review published on Letterboxd:
This definitely exceeded my expectations. I was completely impressed with how authentic this felt. The music, the martial arts, the dedication to having characters actually speak Chinese pretty frequently, and the general handling of Chinese culture were all handled really well. I saw this with 5 natively Chinese people, and they all left completely satisfied with the representation. One of my roommates said he kept tearing up, and he didn’t even know why, and another girl said she was so glad it was finally cool to be Chinese. It’s easy to overlook that kind of stuff as someone whose race is so often portrayed, so it was really cool to see the effects of it firsthand. The action here was tremendous, and felt very fresh. They were the type of scenes I would love to watch in slow motion just to see all the choreography in its fullness. I was a little worried that the final act would do away with the martial arts nature of the first two acts in favor of a big cgi battle at the end. I was only kind of correct. The final battle utilized that same flare for a lot of it, even when it involved hurling glowing rings at each other. I think they nailed the mechanics of the rings, because it allowed for the characters to use them as a kind of extension of their bodies, materializing the whole energy that surrounds martial arts. Unfortunately, even this diluted substance does dissolve into a full cgi spectacle with the dragon at the end. I wasn’t a huge fan of this, but I understand that it is marvel and they have their money making formula. I loved Simu Liu and Awkwafina, I cannot wait to see more of them both. The sister, unfortunately self-prophesized her own under-utilization. She mentioned how her father would look the other way and she would just nod and be quiet, and unfortunately that’s what the film did to her too. Hopefully she’ll get more development after that post-credits scene, because that scene did kinda come out of now where in my opinion. The Mandarin was one of the best villains I’ve seen in a Marvel film, up there at a Kilmonger level in my opinion. They did a good job of balancing his intentions with his brutality, which also helped develop the Shang Chi character. Though I really do wish they showed Shang Chi killing his mother’s murderer, I think that would’ve made his redemption arc more palpable. Without it, it’s kind of hard to believe he has much of a dark side to him. I also loved Ben Kingsleys inclusion in this film, and that it was more than a mere cameo. Also, I have to applaud the impeccable timing and organization of Kevin Feige and Marvel. I mean, three days ago I watched a What If episode that introduced the idea of these multi-universal/dimensional creatures, and then boom, I see what is presumably one of them in this. The coordination and attention to detail in this studio will never cease to amaze me. Lastly, the soundtrack that came out along with this movie was pretty great. This is top tier Marvel in my opinion, and one of the best origin stories in the franchise. Bravo, and thank you for ensuring that future marvel releases won’t be delayed any further (hopefully) with your box office success.