Viewing: Second/ Third (I rewatched 3/4ths of this movie a few days after I watched it the first time)
Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
A rewatch with some time under my belt made me appreciate this movie even more, and I'd take back some of what I said on the podcast about Shang-Chi not having enough to do. It's less than others, but he's doing plenty. And Simu Liu is absolutely present in every scene. There's a lot going on with his character and it's there in small looks and reactions. Acting is reacting, and he's nailing that - in character as an observer who has a lot going on inside that he doesn't say out loud.
Between excellent all-ages action, very strong performers, and some deft world-building, I won't say it's a flawless film, but it's so... watchable. And the characters all so well defined, I want to hang out with everyone in the film, even the bad guys. I mean, I don't care what bad stuff Tony Leung's Xu Wenwu is supposed to have done, he seems cool AF.
I also am not as certain where Xialing winds up at the end of the film. Is she reforming the Ten Rings organization? Tilting back to running her dad's criminal empire? The Ten Rings have sided with Ta Lo, and Xialing has fought nobly with her brother and Ying Nan's crew, so... anyway, I enjoy the ambiguity at the end.
And hats off to Awkwafina, who is both hilarious and absolutely grounds the film without shouting "say what....?" after every revelation. The decade of friendship with Shang-Chi means she's very much working to understand the world, but we're never told by a very funny character that we shouldn't take it seriously. That's something you would not have seen pre-Marvel Studios.
Anyhoo... I love this movie. I don't do top 10 lists or anything, but I do feel like this is up there with the movies I'll rewatch for years on end.