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

Leave a comment

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (CREDIT: Marvel Entertainment/Screenshot)

Starring: Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang, Tony Leung, Michelle Yeoh, Fala Chen, Ben Kingsley, Florian Munteanu, Benedict Wong

Director: Destin Daniel Cretton

Running Time: 132 Minutes

Rating: PG-13

Release Date: September 3, 2021 (Theaters)

Most Marvel Cinematic Universe movies have me feeling some variation of “That was okay, I guess I enjoyed that.” But with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, it was a little different. I saw it with my dad, who asked me multiple times how familiar I was with the character, which made me realize that I don’t think I’ve ever read a single comic book issue that featured Shang-Chi in any capacity. That freshness didn’t necessarily translate into meaning that Legend of the Ten Rings was any better than other recent MCU movies; rather, it just felt like less of a chore. And in fact, despite the presence of MCU vets like Benedict Wong and Ben Kingsley, it reminded me more of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon than anything Marvel-certified. Although I should note that I’ve never actually seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. But it did have such a huge impact on the culture that it kinda feels like I at least absorbed it. Will Shang-Chi have a similarly huge cultural impact? Probably not, but at least everyone appeared to be having a good time.

Grade: 7 Souls out of 10 Soul-Stealing Dragons

This Is a Movie Review: ‘Creed II’ Draws From the ‘Rocky’ Franchise’s Past With Both Predictable and Resonant Results

Leave a comment

CREDIT: Barry Wetcher/Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures

This review was originally posted on News Cult in November 2018.

Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Dolph Lundgren, Florian Munteanu, Wood Harris, Russell Hornsby

Director: Steven Caple, Jr.

Running Time: 129 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Swollen Shut Bruised Eyes and Other Boxing Injuries

Release Date: November 21, 2018

The first Creed was just about as crowd-pleasing a blast of a fighter and young man coming into his own as the original Rocky was. And now with Creed II … Adonis Creed’s story continues. If you agree that Michael B. Jordan delivered some much-needed energy as the new lead character in this franchise, you may very well be invested in seeing where it goes from here. But it is hard not to prevent it from all being episodic in a way that sequels like these can so easily be. And naturally enough, just as Rocky II featured Rocky and Adrian marrying and having a son, Creed II features Adonis and Bianca (Tessa Thompson) marrying and having a daughter. If you have a heart and any appreciation for family whatsoever, it’s certainly affecting, but also strikingly predictable.

But ultimately Creed II is more of a direct follow-up to Rocky IV, as Adonis squares off against Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), son of Ivan (Dolph Lundgren), who beat Adonis’ dad Apollo in the ring so badly that he died from the fight. Rocky’s bout against Ivan was a symbolic Cold War-era standoff, and an American-Russian rivalry is the most culturally relevant it has been since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. While that subtext can easily be found if you want to examine it, the more prominent theme is the difference in coaching styles. The family and friends in Adonis’ corner offer him no-strings love and support, whereas Ivan constantly reminds his son that he will be a disappointment to his whole country if he does not win. By the end, there is a pivot that demonstrates that the Dragos have a more loving relationship than we are initially privy to, and I would have loved to have seen more of that. We get plenty of scenes with the Munteanu and Lundgren, but if they had been even more the mirror image of what Jordan and Sylvester Stallone do together, Creed II could have been a whole lot more magical.

Creed II is Recommended If You Like: Rocky completism

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Title Belts