The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s 25th installment occupies an interesting place in the mythology, with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings having one foot firmly planted in both the grounded and mystical sides of the franchise. The movie is at its core an emotional story of a family splintered in three distinctly different directions by the same tragedy, but with added fantasy flourishes.
Director Destin Daniel Cretton has a background in independent drama, but as soon as the action kicks in, it becomes clear he’s got a real knack for spectacle, too. The first showcase for Simu Liu’s martial arts abilities and Cretton’s kinetic camerawork comes in a scrap set inside, outside and all around a moving bus, and the filmmaker revealed that the sequence was in his initial pitch to Marvel Studios.
“The bus fight was part of my initial pitch, which was really just a what-if scenario. As part of my pitch, I was explaining the type of fight sequences that I enjoy, ones where the stakes just keep rising as the fight continues. And my what-if scenario was instead of two guys fighting in a park, what if they were on a bus that loses its brakes and is careening down the hills of San Francisco? And our hero has to fight while trying to drive.”
The hand-to-hand combat is comfortably one of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings‘ standout aspects, with each battle taking place against a different backdrop. That allows Cretton and his team to establish them as similar enough in style, but unique in their own way in terms of aesthetic, setting and tone, covering everything from early Jackie Chan-style slapstick to full-blown wushu.
The early reviews weren’t lying when they said Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings contains some of the MCU’s best action, and it’s a rip-roaring origin story for a character that’s set to play a major part in the shared saga for years to come.