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Shang Chi ***Spoilers***

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perc2100:
Haven't had the pleasure of seeing this yea ( :( ) as I'm planning on seeing it next weekend on by birthday w/my home-for-the-weekend-from-college oldest kid ( ;D ;D ).
BUT, Sunday morning of release weekend here are some interesting box office numbers:

Marvel’s SHANG-CHI smashed Labor Day weekend records w/ $71.4M. That is...
- The biggest Labor Day opening weekend of all time (sorry Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN)
- The 2nd biggest opening of the pandemic behind only BLACK WIDOW
- Will likely finish w/ $83M+ for 4-day based off expert projections for Monday.

Marvel Studios is ridiculously good at what they do.  I mean, the law of averages would suggest that at SOME point they will have a 'miss' and a film will be critically derided AND they'll lose money, right?  RIGHT?!?!  I can't think of another studio that has had this kind of sustained success: it feels amazing to witness.  I mean, none of us (or at least the vast majority: I suppose there could be some lurkers out there) have anything to do with the business-side of Marvel Studios: we're all just fans & critics to some degree or another.  But you have to step back for a moment and appreciate that with very few exceptions Marvel Studios has released 25 films that were all hits to varying degree!  I mean, way back in 2010 when we were looking at Marvel Studios setting up THE AVENGERS, there was a lot of talk that THOR & CAPTAIN AMERICA may not resonate the way IRON MAN & IRON MAN 2 did with audiences, and THE AVENGERS could've been IRON MAN 3: THE AVENGERS INITIATIVE or something if things didn't quite work out the way they did.

IMO, the real test for Marvel Studios' popularity/sustained success will be THE ETERNALS: an adaptation of a series that many really prominent comic writer took a shot at and never really made anything great/iconic.  I mean, when Neil Gaiman swings for the fences and doesn't quite hit, it's a touch property to crack!  I think out of all of their films on the upcoming slate (and between this weekend and scheduled Comic-Con 2022 there are currently SIX MCU films slated for release  :o ), it feels like ETERNALS is the biggest gamble.  SHANG-CHI I would've thought was the second biggest, but it felt like Marvel would have the Chinese market wrapped up so this could sustain a BO dip in the US (though, obviously, it did not so far).  I suspect SPIDEY 3 coming on the heels of THE ETERNALS is a sort of 'failsafe' for Marvel Studios, with the thinking of 'well, if ETERNALS doesn't produce at least we have a known property/hit right around the corner to bounce back.'

I can't wait to see this, and I kinda hate that thanks (mostly) to the pandemic Marvel's Phase 4 films BLACK WIDOW & SHANG-CHI are the only MCU films I've not seen opening day in theaters (and, with few exceptions, the only MCU films I hadn't seen twice opening weekend in theaters; THOR: THE DARK WORLD and DOCTOR STRANGE are two films I saw quite a bit early at Disneyland Passholder screenings so I only saw those once in theatrical release; CAPTAIN MARVEL was another one I only saw once in theaters for whatever reason).

perc2100:
SHANG-CHI is an incredibly fun movie that showcases some of Marvel Studios' most exciting action sequences yet!  The film feels more like a fairy tale to me than a "comic book movie," and with a few minor details is a nice stand-alone fantasy film.  While there is a lot to take-away from the film, one of the biggest for me as the credits started rolling was "Awkwafina needs to be in A LOT more stuff!" 

There is a lot to like about this film, and I think one of the pleasures is this feels like a movie that can be universally enjoyed.  That friend of yours that scoffs at MCU films but likes action?  This is the movie for them.  While there are a few winks and tie-ins to other MCU films, the average moviegoer really only need to be a fan of action, and willing to delve into some "weird."

For MCU fans, this movie seems to signal something: Marvel Cinematic Universe is deep-diving into the weird, and we just need to embrace it, sit back, and enjoy the ride.

SHANG-CHI doesn't feel the need to explain stuff.  Ten rings that grant its wearer magic powers and eternal life?  Just roll with it.  Bad guy has a sword for a prosthetic arm?  Let's go!  A mystical village with magical creatures we've never seen before?  Sure, why not!  Dragons too?!  Ok, let's go!!
The movie has its require exposition scenes to explain Shang-Chi's childhood, parents (to an extent), and the basic "what" that our heroes need to to/fight to save the day.  The rest just happens w/out much explanation: the filmmakers trust the audience to just accept the weird & hope the characters and actors are compelling enough to carry the story.

And they are!  Simu Liu is charming, funny, and has the action chops to spare as our hero who was raised by...IDK, really: a conquering warrior?  Tony Chiu-Wai Leung plays Shang-Chi's dad Wenwu, who has acquired the mystical Ten Rings and used them to conquer all armies for some reason.  He's a bad guy: he runs a shady organization but I'm not sure we're told expressly what he does & most of what we know for sure is either him conquering through the centuries, or him seeking revenge.  Wenwu meets a formidable foe, Li, while searching for a mystical village, and when she defeats him they fall in love and he ditches his criminal empire to be a family man.  Li, played by Fala Chen, is the first of several female characters who are extremely confident, take no guff from anyone, and "own" their talents.  While the heart of the film is Shang-Chi trying to stop his father from doing something bad, but the soul of this film are the awesome women.

Shang-Chi's girlfriend Katy, played by Awkwafina, is an American-Chinese girl who is smart but not necessarily driven to do anything beyond being a valet (with Shang-Chi, who is going by the name "Shawn" while 'hiding out' from Wenwu) and having fun.  FWIW, she _is_ an excellent driver.  Along the way Shang-Chi meets up with his sister Xialing, who was also being trained in the family business before mom died and she was cast-aside by Wenwu.  She instead built a business of blackmarket fighting on the dark web and is as dangerous as a fighter as Shang-Chi is. 

This is all 1st Act stuff that sets the pieces in play to get us to the Ten Rings (both the literal rings, as well as the criminal organization run by Wenwu).  Along the way we get some incredible action set-pieces in a bus & on scaffolding or something outside a high rise building, all show really well with some awesome choreography by fight coordinator Andy Cheng, a member of the Jackie Chan Stunt Team.  There's even what feels like a nice homage to Jackie Chan in the bus scene where Shang-Chi uses his jacket sleeves as a weapon!

And the other female badass is introduced in Act 2 once our three heroes make it to the mystical village that Li is from: Li's sister Nan played by legendary martial artist Michelle Yeoh.  It's always bliss to see her on the big screen, and she both commands the screen with her presence alone AND with her awesome fighting in the big climax.

Some fun Easter eggs (besides the Jackie Chan homage I mentioned above):
* in the 'fight club' esque sequence, it looked like there was an Extremis soldier from IRON MAN THREE fighting a Black Widow agent
* he was in the trailers, but nice to see Abomination fighting Wong.  Abomination feels like like a maniac bad guy here (helping Wong by throwing a fight?!) so maybe he'll come back into the MCU fold again
* besides dialogue, there were some fun 'Blip' visual gags: a poster for a Blip hotline, as well as for "Blip Sync" which is a dating app for those Blipped
* the mom vs dad/Shang-Chi vs dad mixed the martial arts styles of "hard" (a more aggressive, attacking style) vs "soft" (a more self-defense/use your enemies against themselves style) with mom being soft & dad utilizing hard style martial arts.  Shang-Chi is able to come to his full 'power' vs his dad by utilizing BOTH side: thereby embracing BOTH of his parents' good/bad to save the day & find his true warrior self.
* felt like Ta Lo = the Chinese version of Wakanda, which sets up the MCU earth as a REALLY mythical place with lots of layers of mysticism. 
* the Shishi are mythical lions that are popular in Chinese culture: you've almost certainly seen the statues before.  It was cool to see them "in the (CGI) flesh" and one of them got quite a laugh from my 7 year old when it swatted a bad guy during the big climax in Ta Lo.
* The Dweller-in-Darkness soul-sucking creature is a Doctor Strange bad guy in the comics (and thus a nice touch to throw Wong in the mix in this film)
* I wonder if the physical Ten Rings will somehow tie in to The Eternals for their film?  Captain Marvel dismisses the alien origins of the rings, while Banner confirms they are well over 1k years old.  Maybe they're tools from The Eternals or something
* "The Ten Rings Will Return" was an interesting capper post-credits.  As good guys or bad?  Why "Ten Rings will return" and not "Shang-Chi will return?"  That hints specifically at some sort of future for the organization (or were they talking the physical rings?), and if we're talking the organization I wonder if that will be another target for the team Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine seems to be putting together: every org needs its foot soldier canon fodder

Overall, a great time at the movies: my first time back in a theater since March 2020! 

Friends of Comic Cons:
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puppy:
You are not allowed to view links. Register or LoginSHANG-CHI is an incredibly fun movie that showcases some of Marvel Studios' most exciting action sequences yet!  The film feels more like a fairy tale to me than a "comic book movie," and with a few minor details is a nice stand-alone fantasy film.  While there is a lot to take-away from the film, one of the biggest for me as the credits started rolling was "Awkwafina needs to be in A LOT more stuff!" 


--- End quote ---

The more I see Awkwafina, the more I want to see her. I think she should have been the star. Make the movie about her character.

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