'Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings' finds a fresh superhero sweet spot

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EW.com 23 August, 2021 - 11:00am 7 views

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Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is released on 2 September in Australia, and 3 September in the US and UK. The GuardianShang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings review – Marvel’s martial-arts action-fest is spirited fare

Is Shang Chi in the MCU?

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is part of Phase Four of the MCU. wikipedia.orgMarvel's Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

John Cena has taken to social media to confirm that he has now finished up his run with WWE following his loss to Roman Reigns in the main event of SummerSlam on Saturday night.

Two days removed from being defeated by Roman Reigns at SummerSlam, Cena took to Twitter to confirm his journey has now taken him away from WWE.

This comes after it was reported earlier today that, with the exception of the September 10 episode of SmackDown next month, John Cena is completely done with WWE for the foreseeable future. 

Cena also thanked the fans for what he called an unforgettable summer that saw him wrestle over 10 matches for WWE, the majority of which were untelevised for live crowds before episodes of Raw and SmackDown and at WWE live events.

Reports earlier on today suggested that, due to his filming schedule, there is no timetable for Cena to return to WWE anytime soon, which does leave a spot at the top of the card for WWE, which could have been why Brock Lesnar was brought back.

As noted, Brock Lesnar returned to WWE at SummerSlam, confronting Universal Champion Roman Reigns to close out the show, which will likely be the direction WWE goes for during the remainder of 2021.

For more on what the future holds for WWE and John Cena over the coming months, make sure you stay tuned to GiveMeSport.

Read full article at EW.com

Shang-Chi First Reviews: One of the MCU's Most Spectacular Origin Stories

Rotten Tomatoes 24 August, 2021 - 02:10pm

How many film franchises go for as long and for as many installments as the Marvel Cinematic Universe has and still keep delivering critical favorites? The first reviews of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings are calling it one of the best MCU entries yet. And those most qualified to speak on such elements offer particular praise toward the Asian representation and martial arts action as being exceptional for Hollywood blockbuster cinema in general.

Here’s what critics are saying about Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings:

“The movie full on delivers the Marvel theatrical experience you’ve been jonesing for.” – Rohan Patel, ComicBook.com

Shang-Chi joins the ranks for me [with] Winter Soldier, Thor: Ragnarok and Infinity War as some of the best that Marvel has to offer… This is the best solo film in years.” – Jon Nguyen, Flickering Myth

“One of the best origin stories in the MCU.” – Rachel Labonte, ScreenRant

“Would rank it pretty high when it comes to Marvel origin stories. I’d say maybe only the first Iron Man and Black Panther movies do it better.” – Brian Frederick, Pop Culture Leftovers

“As Marvel remixes go, Shang-Chi is one of the more successful ones. Maybe not as stylistically strong as Black Widow and certainly not as much of a watershed moment as Black Panther.” – Hoai-Tran Bui, Slashfilm

“[It] puts to bed any concern fans might have had about a drop off in Phase IV of the sprawling Marvel Cinematic Universe.” – Brandon Katz, Observer

“Marvel breaks its own mold on multiple fronts… Shang-Chi is the most energized the MCU has been in years.” – Jeffrey Zhang, Strange Harbors

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is most enjoyable when it shakes off the tedious franchise imperatives and forges its own path.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

“As familiar of a superhero origin story as Shang-Chi is, the film blessedly feels like the least Marvel of the solo films we’ve had lately.” – Hoai-Tran Bui, Slashfilm

Shang-Chi barely feels like a superhero movie at all. If anything, it veers closer to the wistful grandeur of Disney’s live-action fairy tale adaptations.” – Angie Han, Hollywood Reporter

“At its most basic level this is very much another MCU affair. From a critical point of view, there is no reinvention of the wheel.” – Therese Lacson, The Beat

“Getting to see myself reflected in a Marvel blockbuster flick, despite its flaws, makes me excited for what more we might see from Shang-Chi.” – Therese Lacson, The Beat

“Cultural authenticity abounds in Shang-Chi.” – Nancy Wang Yuen, io9

Shang-Chi makes major strides in representation; more than just plastering Asian faces on a screen, the film dives particularly deep into the Asian American experience.” – Jeffrey Zhang, Strange Harbors

“This film often feels like an actual reflection of the Asian American experience versus an uninspired Hollywood imitation.” – Rohan Patel, ComicBook.com

“It’s a bit tiring to see another dragon trope involved in an Asian-led film. Which is a shame as there are subtle nods for the Asian diaspora to relish.” – Laura Sirikul, Empire Magazine

“You’ll be happy to hear the best parts of Shang-Chi are its elevated fight scenes.” – Nancy Wang Yuen, io9

“The action is fantastic… The choreography is the best yet in the MCU.” – Laura Sirikul, Empire Magazine

Shang-Chi’s action conveys the one thing so many superhero films are missing: flavor… [It’s] the studio’s best action to date by a country mile.” – Jeffrey Zhang, Strange Harbors

“The best action I’ve seen in the MCU.” – Jon Nguyen, Flickering Myth

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings doesn’t just boast the best action of the MCU, it manages to do it with two (two!) eye-popping action sequences that unspool before the film’s first act is over.” – Kate Erbland, IndieWire

“I’m no fan of fighting sequences but I enjoyed most of the ballet-like style Cretton devised for his movie.” – Patricia Puentes, Ask

(Photo by © Marvel Studios, © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

“The movie may not live up to [its influences and] ambitions — the action is still too aesthetically anonymous, too CG-polished — but it’s nice that it has them to begin with.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

“It still only manages pale imitations of its influences: the wuxia-inspired sequences feeling more weightless than anything out of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and the Jackie Chan-inspired fight scenes feel more like the Hollywood takes on Chan’s work.” – Hoai-Tran Bui, Slashfilm

“He directs the film with such an infectious energy, always putting his characters first, and making you so invested in their individual journeys.” – Rohan Patel, ComicBook.com

At last, here is a director who knows martial arts is the core of the material, so Cretton ensures Shang-Chi’s action department will get full credit.” – Nguyen Le, JumpCut Online

“Wait until you see the gorgeous design of Ta-Lo in this film. Tons of eye candy and amazing creature designs.” – Brian Frederick, Pop Culture Leftovers

“There are stunning wuxia-inspired sequences that are as gorgeous as they are impressive.” – Eric Eisenberg, Cinema Blend

“[Cretton] manages to at least keep the film visually coherent (and in many of the wuxia-inspired moments, quite beautiful) even as it descends into CGI bombast.” – Hoai-Tran Bui, Slashfilm

“Liu knocks it out of the park as Shang-Chi, adding a tad of levity to the known-to-be-serious comic book character.” – Laura Sirikul, Empire Magazine

“Simu Liu gives a charismatic, nicely understated performance, which helps mitigate the muddled storytelling.” – Tim Grierson, Screen International

“He’s responsible, respectful, charming, and carefree, making him instantly relatable to Asian-Americans across the country.” – Rohan Patel, ComicBook.com

“As magnetic as Liu is in action, he struggles in quieter moments with a script that gives the character more backstory than personality.” – Angie Han, Hollywood Reporter

“Shang-Chi seems to have inherited much of his father’s martial-arts prowess but not nearly enough of his charisma.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

“Awkwafina in particular becomes a vital source of levity for the script, and a welcoming audience surrogate as the film ramps up to a large battle.” – Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com

“Awkwafina, who has proven to be effortless in a layered role with The Farewell… isn’t allowed to go beyond ‘funnywoman’ here.” – Nguyen Le, JumpCut Online

“Awkwafina is, well, Awkwafina, for both better and worse… A few scenes allow her shtick to go on a beat or two too many.” – Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects

“The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s best ‘villain’ yet… Leung effortlessly proves he’s one of our greatest screen actors of the past 40 years.” – Hoai-Tran Bui, Slashfilm

“One of the MCU’s best villains… Perhaps the best MCU villain to-date.” – Jeffrey Zhang, Strange Harbors

“Tony Leung delivers one of the finest performances we’ve ever seen in the MCU and should go down as one of the franchise’s greatest antagonists.” – Rohan Patel, ComicBook.com

“It’s the best performance from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, because the passion and grief it expresses is appropriately Leung-sized.” – Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com

“His performance anchors the film and expands the potential of the comic-book villain.” – Shirley Li, The Atlantic

“Leung as Wenwu provides depths of character in what could be a one-dimensional bad guy. However, the film’s real villain is grief.” – Laura Sirikul, Empire Magazine

“The dark horse is Meng’er Zhang’s Xialing… In a lesser film, she would be discarded to the sidelines, but there’s remarkable shading to her character that gives her some of the film’s best moments.” – Jeffrey Zhang, Strange Harbors

“Michelle Yeoh also plays a pivotal role, and is absolutely wonderful.” – Rohan Patel, ComicBook.com

“The strongest fighters depicted are the women…[but] even as Shang-Chi presents more badass women than most Marvel films, they exist to support a man’s journey.” – Nancy Wang Yuen, io9

“In drawing attention to Xialing’s personal history of neglect, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings insistently telegraphs its awareness of its own shortcomings.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

“Zhang’s Xialing has the most compelling backstory, but at times, it feels she is just there as set dressing for the main hero. It’s unfortunate she isn’t given more to do.” – Laura Sirikul, Empire Magazine

“The script, by Cretton, Dave Callaham, and Andrew Lanham, charts a familiar enough origin story and journey of self-discovery, but there’s fun and heart in the details.” – Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects

Shang-Chi does have some pacing issues where the story, at times, becomes convoluted with so much information to set up the world of Ta Lo and how it relates to the MCU as a whole.” – Laura Sirikul, Empire Magazine

“The film’s middle sags with exposition and backstory, as its screenwriters attempt to maneuver around a few finicky problems.” – Kate Erbland, IndieWire

“The funny in Shang-Chi seems to reflect a millennial sensibility, making the mixture of action and comedy feel fresh for the MCU.” – Nancy Wang Yuen, io9

Shang-Chi’s brand of humor almost reminded me of Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok.” – Patricia Puentes, Ask

“The cast manages to carry a strong sense of tongue-in-cheek humor throughout the film, with one later surprise character hailing straight from the Taika Waititi school of comedy.” – Hoai-Tran Bui, Slashfilm

“The jokes keep Shang-Chi from tipping over into self-importance, but they also rob it of some of its wonder.” – Angie Han, Hollywood Reporter

“They’ve never quite been handled with the nuance and emotion granted the relationship between Shang-Chi and his father.” – Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects

“Liu infuses these struggles with a real believability and charm.” – Kate Erbland, IndieWire

Black Widow is like the MCU worst family vacation scenario for superheroes, while Shang-Chi is a family reunion and a long-lost relative revelation.” – Jana Monji, Age of the Geek

“This might be Marvel at its steamiest.” – Nguyen Le, JumpCut Online

“In a swerve uncharacteristic of superhero films… Shang-Chi’s prologue cranks up the sexiness and romance [with] one of the most passionate and distinct set-pieces Marvel has ever placed on film.” – Jeffrey Zhang, Strange Harbors

“Leung, one of our best cinematic romantic leads and devastatingly handsome to boot, manages to inject sex appeal into a Marvel film with merely a look.” – Hoai-Tran Bui, Slashfilm

“The finale of Shang-Chi is truly unlike anything that’s come before. It’s pure unadulterated spectacle, and so fantastical, it’s very much like watching a comic splash page come to life.” – Rohan Patel, ComicBook.com

“Though it falls victim to the dreaded Marvel third-act CGI muddle, Shang-Chi‘s is one of the more forgivable ones, if only because it verges on full fantasia.” – Hoai-Tran Bui, Slashfilm

“One of my biggest complaints is the heavy use of CGI in the final third of the film, which often felt clunky and ended up overshadowing the emotional scenes.” – Therese Lacson, The Beat

Shang-Chi employs its muddled third act with reckless, disappointing abandon…[the] final act demolition derby is an MCU weakness writ large.” – Jeffrey Zhang, Strange Harbors

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings presents a bright future for Marvel Studios and the expanded cinematic universe.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

“Given what’s on show here, the future for Shang-Chi and Asian representation in the MCU looks bright.” – Laura Sirikul, Empire Magazine

Shang-Chi is a step in the right direction, but we’ll have to see how Phase Four plays out to see if the MCU is really embracing diversity in a way that includes people of Asian descent.” – Jana Monji, Age of the Geek

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is in theaters on September 3, 2021.

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Review: The real star of Marvel's 'Shang-Chi' is not who you think it is

Los Angeles Times 23 August, 2021 - 11:00am

Should I be delighted or depressed that a new Marvel superhero joint will soon be introducing a lot of people to one of the greatest actors and last true movie stars of his generation?

Since “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” left me in a pretty good mood, I’ll go with tentative delight. The actor in question is the Hong Kong screen titan Tony Leung, who isn’t the movie’s lead — that would be Simu Liu as Shang-Chi — but is every inch its star. Leung is one of those performers who moves through the frame with impossible grace and sometimes doesn’t move at all; if there are other actors who can express more by doing less, who can so magnetize the camera with a flicker of an eyebrow, they aren’t coming to mind.

Not that he has nothing to do here. Leung’s character, Xu Wenwu, is a centuries-old Chinese warlord and the bearer of those legendary 10 rings, Tolkienesque armbands that have made him immortal, invincible and ever lustful for more power. He’s the latest incarnation of the Mandarin, conceived in 1964 by Stan Lee and Don Heck as a mustache-twirling Fu Manchu baddie, though his more recent depictions have skewed away from Asian stereotype. Casting Leung amounts to an ingenious feat of reclamation: This Mandarin is not just a villain reborn but also a prismatic summation of the actor’s remarkable (and until now, Hollywood blockbuster-free) career.

I may be overstating the cinephile’s case for this movie, especially since the reckless juxtaposition of words like “Marvel” and “cinema” has been known to start an argument or two. Nevertheless, these allusions and associations feel like the product of some shrewd dramatic calculus by the director Destin Daniel Cretton (“Short Term 12,” “Just Mercy”), who wrote the script with Dave Callaham and Andrew Lanham. Leung’s presence gives the movie an extra-cinematic kick, a winking but resonant connection to an inexhaustible Asian canon of romantic dramas, underworld thrillers and martial-arts epics. It also provides an arresting entry point into a hero’s origin story that tries, with some success, to rise above Marvel business-as-usual.

Marvel boss Kevin Feige has responded to criticism from ‘Shang-Chi’ star Simu Liu after Disney CEO Bob Chapek called the film ‘an experiment.’

There are times (not enough, frankly) when “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” suggests an unusually demented comedy of cross-generational Asian conflict, in which the usual clashing sensibilities — East and West, traditional and modern — play out on a world-threatening supernatural stage. (The early nods to “The Joy Luck Club,” from the San Francisco setting to a brief cameo by the great Tsai Chin, are surely no accident.) In this interpretation, Wenwu looms as the big bad tiger dad to Shang-Chi, the gifted underachiever who’s gone West and gone soft. Caught somewhere in between is Xialing (Meng’er Zhang), Shang-Chi’s estranged sister, whom he tracks down at an underground fight club in Macao.

It’s nicer still when Leung’s Wenwu returns, rocking a mandarin-collared white suit (Kym Barrett’s costumes are a highlight) and kicking this tale of an epically dysfunctional family into high gear. Speaking in a higher-than-usual voice that rumbles with torment, rage and pop gravitas, Leung sets the vengeful tone for a drama that’s Oedipal in its overtones and elliptical in its structure. Wenwu’s reemergence triggers several flashbacks to his wife’s untimely death and the grim fallout on their kids: We see young Shang-Chi being cruelly warped into a killing machine, while young Xialing is just as cruelly ignored. That doesn’t stop her from becoming a skilled, self-taught martial artist in her own right, intent on rebuking — and eclipsing — her father’s patriarchal disdain.

Released Monday, the first trailer for “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” gives fans a sneak peek at Marvel’s first superhero of Asian descent.

The movie’s own blind spots aren’t as easy to overcome. Despite the occasional “Captain Marvel” and “Black Widow” that comes down the pike, the Marvel movies tend to practice a feminism that’s both self-congratulatory and weirdly hesitant — a failure that feels all the more glaring for the filmmakers’ obvious attempts to address it. In drawing attention to Xialing’s personal history of neglect, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” insistently telegraphs its awareness of its own shortcomings. Short of squeezing her name into its already overextended title, the movie can only do so much to grant brother and sister the equal weight they deserve.

Xialing, frankly, may well deserve the lion’s share. Shang-Chi is the designated hero, but as inhabited by Liu, who’s better in motion than at rest — and at his best opposite Awkwafina, with whom he works up a sharp, funny rapport — his emotional arc comes only fitfully into focus. It makes sense that he would feel guarded about his past, but Liu seldom finds the necessary tension in that reserve. Shang-Chi has demons galore, having been abused, brainwashed and betrayed by the monomaniacal Wenwu, but those demons are more often articulated than fully expressed. This Shang-Chi seems to have inherited much of his father’s martial-arts prowess but not nearly enough of his charisma.

That world must, of course, fit snugly inside a larger one, and from time to time you’re reminded that you’re watching not just a movie but an installment, a feature-length cog in the relentless Marvel machine. Doctor Strange’s monkish sidekick Wong (Benedict Wong) shows up, as does another company player whose identity I’ll keep under wraps even if the internet hasn’t. Pockets of Sue Chan’s production design are strewn with references to the five-year “blip” from the last two “Avengers” movies.

But “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is most enjoyable when it shakes off the tedious franchise imperatives and forges its own path. The movie’s late-breaking highlights include Michelle Yeoh’s performance as Ying Nan, a mentor figure to Shang-Chi and Xialing who dispenses pearls of wisdom with customary poise and offers a warm counterweight to Leung’s brooding chill. Ying Nan pops up in Ta Lo, a secluded Chinese village that occasions some of the movie’s more striking visuals (including a dynamic joyride through a leafy labyrinth) and paves the way to the movie’s exciting mountainside climax.

Although tailored to the usual Marvel specifications — apocalyptic stakes, bloodless casualties — this endgame also has a distinctly personal undercurrent that seems to transcend the parameters of this particular story. Without divulging too much, this isn’t the first time a Leung character has stood before a mighty wall of stone, pondering depths of love and loss that only he can see or hear — a quick but not-insignificant reference in a movie whose porous sense of cinema history is the richest thing about it. “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” may be far from perfect, but it knows that sometimes it takes a god to play one.

‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’

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'Shang-Chi' is a bold, original, and wildly exhilarating action film that injects new life into the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Insider 23 August, 2021 - 12:00am

Embracing the stranger side of Marvel Comics, director Destin Daniel Cretton confidently steers the MCU in a new direction with "Shang-Chi," delivering one of the most original films the franchise has given us so far.

As the MCU's latest leading man, Simu Liu nails it as the titular hero Shang-Chi, a Chinese American immigrant who's forced to confront his past when his father attempts to draw him back into his infamous organization, the Ten Rings. What follows is a bizarre, exhilarating, and visually stunning adventure, culminating in an entertaining and genuinely moving film that's right up there with Marvel's very best.

Doing a Marvel movie "the right way" is complicated because they all have to work on two levels: in their own right as a standalone film and as one piece in the puzzle of the larger shared universe, building on previous franchise-wide plot points, like the Blip, and moving this behemoth superhero saga forward.

"Shang-Chi" does both, with the added bonus of neatly retconning one of the MCU's more controversial moments — the depiction of the Mandarin (this movie's villain) in "Iron Man 3," as played by Ben Kingsley, who cleverly features in this new movie more than you'd expect.

It's also an origin story that introduces us to Liu's Shang-Chi. It's clear that he's being set up by Marvel as one of the key players of the MCU as confirmed in a fascinating post-credits scene. And if his performance in this first entry is any indication, Liu will have no problem shouldering that responsibility.

Liu anchors the movie in the same way the MCU's established leading superheroes do — with charisma, charm, and an impressive physical presence. In fact, Liu probably does more stunts and displays more physicality in "Shang-Chi" than any other MCU actor before him.

There's no shortage of impressive fight scenes in the movie, each with their own distinctive flavor — and boy, are they entertaining to watch.

Slick cinematography glides around stunning locations, from a moving bamboo forest to skyscraper scaffolding, capturing the most beautifully choreographed fight scenes that quite literally look and feel like mesmerizing dance sequences, akin to those seen in classic martial arts films like "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."

These scenes, choreographed by fight coordinator Andy Cheng, are far and away the best action sequences in any Marvel film, with only the Thanos battles in "Infinity War" and "Endgame" rivaling them.

But it's not just technically-impressive stunt choreography that sets this film apart. From the heart-racing battles to the cinematography to the landscapes and production design, not to mention the various conversations about life, death, and everything in between, "Shang-Chi" is Marvel's most poetic movie yet.

There is a definitive moment when the film shifts gears and we are introduced to a (literally) different world that's new and strange to the MCU, with touches of fantasy, magic, and even adorable creatures that look kind of like Pokémon.

It may prove jarring for some fans to wade into these waters, but director Cretton pulls off the mystical, almost fairytale-like elements, embracing the shift with confidence and bringing viewers along on the ride.

It's fascinating, fun, and promises so much more entertaining newness in the road ahead for the MCU and future Shang-Chi movies now that we know a Marvel film can successfully incorporate new, fantastical elements like these.

Charismatic players such as Awkwafina, Ronny Chieng, and Meng'er Zhang help to sell the fun, but what really adds to the movie is the presence of screen legends such as Tony Leung (who plays Wenwu, Shang-Chi's father and the leader of the Ten Rings) and Michelle Yeoh (who plays Jiang Nan, Shang-Chi's aunt and mentor). Both have a wealth of experience in wuxia movies from "The Grandmaster" to the aforementioned "Crouching Tiger."

Their presence bring gravitas and weight to the movie, helping to sell the new-to-the-MCU elements and giving the fight scenes a level of unrivaled expertise. Leung, in particular, is a stand-out as the movie's villain, Wenwu, who is one of the more layered and complex antagonists the MCU has featured.

But while the movie explores mythology and fantasy, it also remains grounded in a compelling family drama story.

Shang-Chi tries to come to terms with who he is and confronts his father as well as his own past mistakes. Cretton utilizes flashbacks more than any other MCU movie and it's very effective — painting a picture of the young Shang-Chi (the impressive Jayden Zhang) and his difficult childhood, and how the older Shang-Chi deals with that as a man.

For a film that has dragons and creatures that look like Pokémon, it gets pretty emotional at more than one point thanks to smart, poignant writing from Cretton and cowriters Andrew Lanham and Dave Callaham.

Part of the emotional journey of this film is recognizing it as a major step forward in diversity.

People of Asian heritage around the world will no doubt be filled with joy at seeing themselves on the big screen in one of the biggest movies of the year. Chinese culture is celebrated and on display throughout: The scene-setting first several minutes of dialogue in the film are spoken entirely in Mandarin (with English subtitles), the costuming blends east and west, and there are references to folklore both real and invented for the world of the film.

Let's just hope that "Shang-Chi" begins to get the marketing it deserves from Disney, as some Marvel fans have voiced concerns about what they see as a lack of promotion.

Indeed, "Shang-Chi" deserves to be a billion-dollar box-office smash, the same as several other MCU movies have been. Whether that will happen, due to its limited 45-day theatrical release "experiment," plus release issues in China, and the coronavirus pandemic, is another thing.

But it would be a mighty shame if it didn't. "Shang-Chi" thoroughly deserves it.

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