My motivation to watch this film was the lead actor Simu Liu. I had very recently been introduced to Canadian show Kim’s Convenience where Liu plays the son to a Korean immigrant couple who raised their kids in Canada, far, far away from their own homeland trying to keep their roots alive even as their kids are anything but Asian. The series is slow but warm, with generous doses of identity politics, an issue that finds a resonance in this latest addition to Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Shang Chi has fled China and his father’s tutelage to carve out an identity for himself and also in a bid to escape the horrors of his past, but as they say, you can run, but you can’t hide. After years of being on the run, Shaun, the monicker that he goes by in America is dragged back to China. What follows is an opulent journey to a hidden land and a battle that is as mythical as Marvel-esuque.
However the transition from an action sequence aboard a bus in San Francisco to an underground fight club in Macau to the folklore-in-motion jungles of the China borders on cliche sometimes. Dragons, pinnacled huts, archers and bright red costumes seem a tad-bit like appropriation on several occasions.
I am sure it was time for an Asian superhero to have his own film when it comes to MCU. Chinese immigrants form a a sizeable portion of the non-native population in America and the ABC (America Born Chinese) are considered pretty influential too. China remains a huge market for Hollywood films despite numerous regulations (Shang Chi hasn’t even been approved for a release in the country) Factors as these surely must have prompted the makers to come up with the movie but it almost inadvertently slides down the slope of stereotyping.
That being said, like most MCU films, Shang Chi too is magnificent- the special effects stunning, the attention to detail immaculate and the casting near perfect. The characters are likeable, even the villain has a shade of grey, making the film full of layers that unpeel as the plot progresses.
I enjoyed the film, and I am pretty sure you would too if you can let some evident stereotyping slide!