(CNN)"Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" conjures a slick summation to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, 1 that owes little to the comics than astir of its predecessors. The movie not lone strikes a invited stroke for inclusion with its predominantly Asian cast, but deftly juggles epic satellite gathering with lighter drama successful a mode that should entreaty to audiences, depending connected however galore tin beryllium lured backmost to theaters astatine this moment.
That asterisk doesn't detract from the movie itself, but it does underscore the value "Shang-Chi" carries, some arsenic an archetypal (that is, non-sequel) rubric and a movie released exclusively into theaters without the at-home option that's been offered to substance subscriptions to Disney+.
Fortunately, the movie comes equipped for conflict with an highly appealing pb successful Simu Liu, nicely abetted by Awkwafina arsenic his champion pal and plucky comic relief.
Shang-Chi and Awkwafina's Katy are alternatively aimlessly meandering done beingness successful San Francisco erstwhile destiny knocks, and she's understandably gob-smacked erstwhile helium gets attacked connected a autobus by muscled henchmen, exhibiting stunning martial-arts skills successful the movie's archetypal and champion enactment sequence.
As it turns out, her person since precocious schoolhouse has hidden a secret, having fled his upbringing arsenic a trained assassin nether his begetter (Tony Leung), the possessor of the mystical Ten Rings, a root of tremendous power. The abrupt intrusion means not lone that dada has recovered him, but that Shang-Chi indispensable question retired his sister (Meng'er Zhang), launching the Bay Area buddies into a satellite of magic and mystery.
Having made their debut successful the 1970s, the Shang-Chi comics ever possessed problematic underpinnings, rooted arsenic they were successful the literate quality of maestro villain Fu Manchu, who was Shang-Chi's father.
Under manager Destin Daniel Cretton -- stepping up successful scope aft the play "Just Mercy," and collaborating connected the publication with Dave Callaham and Andrew Lanham -- the communicative fundamentally (and wisely) uses the comics arsenic a unsmooth outline. While determination are echoes of "Black Panther" successful the character's super-heroic destiny, the code much intimately resembles "Doctor Strange" arsenic Marvel root stories go.
The movie besides cleverly weaves successful characters from the larger MCU, adding playfulness to a mythical communicative filled with analyzable household past and the near-Shakespearean narration betwixt begetter and son.
Marvel Comics was seldom bashful astir borrowing from popular culture, and the comics -- titled "Master of Kung Fu" -- drew connected the popularity of the TV amusement and Bruce Lee movies successful the '70s. One surprise, fixed that, is conscionable however superhero-like "Shang-Chi" feels, including the seemingly inevitable barrage of computer-generated mayhem earlier it's over.
While visually impressive, those sequences really present little excitement than Shang-Chi's adjacent encounters of a much earthbound kind, which showcase dazzling stunt enactment and kinetic action. It's possibly cliched to accidental little is more, but successful this discourse it's so the lawsuit that the much magic the communicative employs, the little magical the enactment becomes.
Quibbles aside, "Shang-Chi" is different smartly calibrated hold of the Marvel unchangeable amid its endeavors to go much diverse. Preceding an onslaught of sequels successful the studio's cautiously plotted next phase, this movie and the upcoming "Eternals" also bespeak possibly its biggest gambles connected lesser-known titles since "Guardians of the Galaxy," which evidently paid disconnected handsomely.
Marvel's mightiness has lone grown since then, and practically speaking it's hard not to respect the meticulous mode the institution weaves thing similar "Shang-Chi" into a cinematic roster whose possibilities person further expanded with Disney+.
Despite the headwinds movie-going faces, "Shang-Chi" should frankincense payment from the information that presented an breathtaking caller character, the Marvel faithful won't privation to hazard missing the bus. And successful this peculiar case, you really don't privation to miss the bus.
"Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" premieres successful US theaters connected Sept. 3. It's rated PG-13.