Labor Day is traditionally thought of as the unofficial end of the summer movie season. It’s also generally a dead zone for new Hollywood releases, with the studios accepting the conventional wisdom that many Americans want to spend the holiday outdoors, not seated in a movie seater. Nonetheless, this strange year brings at least two major options for those feeling comfortable enough to head for the multiplex right time. On a brand new episode of Film Club, critics A.A. Dowd and Katie Rife discuss these franchise competitors: this week’s addition to the Marvel canon, Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, and last week’s reboot of a ’90s horror sensation, Candyman.
Here’s what Katie Rife had to say about Shang-Chi in her written review:
In some ways, Shang-Chi is a mixtape of martial-arts movie genres: An early scene pays tribute to the balletic, graceful films of Zhang Yimou, while a dramatic bus chase later on apes the derring-do of an early Jackie Chan vehicle. Shang-Chi’s reunion with his sister takes place at an underground fighting ring with a ’90s raver, Mortal Kombat type of vibe, and later on, father and son will walk into a grimy, fluorescent-lit gangster hangout straight out of an ’80s John Woo movie. But where those films (Mortal Kombat excepted, of course) emphasized practical effects and the amazing skills of highly trained stunt people, Shang-Chi insists on either interrupting or burying the stunt work—spearheaded by Chan protege Brad Allan, who tragically died earlier this month—with mountains of blatant CGI.
This isn’t always the case. Although Shang-Chi cuts away from a punch as often as it lands one, an extended fight sequence set in a half-built skyscraper observes Liu and Zhang from above in longer takes that allow for at least a few seconds of unbroken fight choreography. And while the climax of this film is as chaotic and unintelligible as any other MCU movie, at least Shang-Chi has benevolent dragons and brave lions instead of the ugly metal detritus of Black Widow.
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