House is in which the coronary heart is. Except if you are Shang-Chi. Then home is in which your mother’s mystical mystery village — and its dragon guardian — is. That’s the circumstance in Marvel’s unsteady “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the 10 Rings,” directed by Destin Daniel Cretton with an obliging eye towards kung fu cinema, but not a great deal else.

Fulfill Shaun (Simu Liu). He’s your normal millennial slacker, information with his valet position, where by he operates with his similarly listless very best friend, Katy (Awkwafina). But Shaun has a mystery: his mom (Fala Chen), who died when he was a little one, was a master martial artist from an alternate dimension. Oh, and dad (Tony Leung) is a conqueror with a mystery ninja military and 10 magical arm rings. And sis, Xialing (Meng’er Zhang), has not been in contact for a although she’s got an underground “Fight Club”-design and style empire to rule in excess of. When Shaun, a.k.a. Shang-Chi, gets a cryptic message, he receives pulled into a family members reunion and must reckon with his earlier.

“Shang-Chi” peppers its hero’s tragic again story all over but does not completely acquaint us with him in the existing before it jumps into his previous. As in “Black Widow,” here’s a case of a protagonist who just cannot compete with the much more interesting characters about him. Choose Leung’s character, a poisonous yet charismatic father, constantly pivoting amongst tender vulnerability and the destructive temper that masks it. Xialing, far too, is wonderfully intense as a woman kingpin. Much too undesirable she falls into just one of Marvel’s dependable tropes: the cool sister ready in the margins of the tale. (Other examples involve Yelena Belova, Shuri and even the seductively villainous Hela.)

Then there’s the beloved sidekick, a role Awkwafina satisfies in a great deal the exact way she has in various other films, as in the avenue-clever hustler Constance and the tacky nouveau-riche bestie Peik Lin — which is to say awkwardly and obnoxiously. She does double-responsibility as the hero’s likely enjoy interest, an similarly unwell-fitting portion offered the deficiency of chemistry concerning her and Liu. (Benedict Wong, showing as the tether to the larger sized Marvel Cinematic Universe, nonetheless, is pleasant as normally, even in his temporary and clear operate in the movie.)

At least there’s the fighting, correct? Nope. Besides 1 sensational combat sequence on a bus, the battles are improperly lit and filmed with such an around-fired up eye that the intricacies of the choreography are shed. It’s a travesty, since Liu, a seasoned stuntman, has the easy acrobatics and fastidious martial arts approach of an A-checklist motion hero. Liu also has an amiable feeling of humor, however “Shang-Chi” doesn’t know how to use it.

The last act of the movie, which devolves into a battle-fest with magical glowing bangles, demonic monsters and oodles of C.G.I., is the most tiresome, and this to start with Asian M.C.U. movie remaining me with a disconcerting thought: Was this meant to be the next “Black Panther”? The dragon, the ninja army, the “Crouching Tiger”-fashion magical kung fu (together with Michelle Yeoh, in a modest role): The movie utilizes the superficial markers of Asian tradition and filmmaking without having presenting anything at all exceptional in its Marvel choose on that tradition. Ever more, as the M.C.U. eventually makes an attempt to diversify its roster, it hazards offering far more mediocre, trope-large token-hero films. I hope I’m mistaken, due to the fact Shang-Chi — and the woman heroes, queer heroes and heroes of colour who will ideally comply with — should have a ton a lot more.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the 10 Rings
Rated PG-13 for kung fu preventing. Running time: 2 hrs 12 minutes. In theaters.