4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:
Box Office $224.54 million;
$29.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $43.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences o violence and action, and language.
Stars Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Tony Leung, Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, Michelle Yeoh, Florian Munteanu, Andy Le, Ben Kingsley, Benedict Wong.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe meets Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, a sweeping fantasy epic with bold action and breathtaking visual flair.
For some perspective, the film centers on a character whose primary comic book was called Master of Kung Fu and was created to cash in on the martial arts movie craze of the 1970s. As the particulars of his origin and portrayal would be seen as highly problematic today, Shang-Chi’s backstory has been modified to better fit within the MCU, bringing together a few story threads introduced in earlier films to shine a light on a new corner of the franchise.
In the film, Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) is the son of Xu Wenwu (Leung), leader of a global criminal empire called the Ten Rings, an organization that appeared in 2008’s Iron Man, the very first MCU movie (Shang-Chi is the 25th).
Wenwu has survived for centuries thanks to 10 mysterious bracelets that imbue him with great power and aided him in building his fortune. In his journeys he learns of a mythical land called Ta Lo that supposedly houses magical beasts. In attempting to enter the village, he is bested in combat by its guardian, Ying Li (Fala Chen), and falls in love with her.
Years later, following his mother’s death, Shang-Li has turned his back on his father’s criminal ambitions and is living in San Francisco, where he goes by the name Shaun and tries to live a normal life with his best friend, Katy (Awkwafina). Those efforts are shattered when he and his sister, Xialing (Meng’er Zhang), are attacked by his father’s thugs and summoned back to the Ten Rings. Wenwu believes their mother’s soul is trapped in Ta Lo, and he wants their help accessing the village so he can save her.
The film also serves as a sequel of sorts to Iron Man 3 and the short film All Hail the King in continuing the story of Ben Kingsley’s Trevor Slattery character, the actor who posed as the terrorist leader The Mandarin and in doing so inadvertently appropriated Wenwu’s identity. Kingsley is a great source of comic relief and a welcome addition to the festivities.
The Blu-ray includes a nice audio commentary with director Director Destin Daniel Cretton and writer Dave Callaham, who discuss developing and making the film. There are also two featurettes, the nine-minute “Building a Legacy” about the making of the film, and the seven-and-a-half-minute “Family Ties” about the characters and their role in the MCU.
The disc also includes 15 minutes of interesting deleted scenes, including an explicit tie-in to the original Iron Man movie, plus some additional moments of character depth.
Rounding out the package is a two-minute gag reel.
In the combo pack that includes both the regular and 4K Blu-rays, there are no extras on the 4K disc.