Tag Archives: Michelle Yeoh

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) Review

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Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Time: 132 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Simu Liu as Xu Shang-Chi/Shaun
Awkwafina as Katy
Meng’er Zhang as Xu Xialing
Fala Chen as Ying Li
Florian Munteanu as Razor Fist
Michelle Yeoh as Ying Nan
Ben Kingsley as Trevor Slattery
Tony Leung as Xu Wenwu
Director: Destin Daniel Cretton

Martial-arts master Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) confronts the past he thought he left behind when he’s drawn into the web of the mysterious Ten Rings organization.

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I was interested in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. For the first time in a while, it would be a new movie in the MCU following a character I’m not familiar with, and I liked the trailers and the look of the movie. I was expecting to enjoy it, as I enjoy most MCU movies. However I actually ended up liking it even more than I expected to.

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One of the refreshing aspects about this movie is how self-contained it is as an origin story, it doesn’t feel like a stepping stone to set up more movies. It doesn’t even tie into the multiverse event that some of the recent MCU projects have been moving towards. It’s very much its own thing, and which already has me on board. Another refreshing part is that is feels like a very different entry into the MCU, even to the point where it doesn’t feel like a Marvel movie at times. Once it started with the incredible opening sequence, I knew that I would really like it. In a way the plot is formulaic (not just to other movies in the series, but other action, fantasy, and martial arts films), however it was way more nuanced than I thought it would be. At its core the movie is focussing on a complex family dynamic, and with that there as a lot of thought put into the character work and history of this family. As the emotional core, it exceeds. In terms of the writing for the characters, it’s definitely some of the best in the MCU. In a way this movie is flashback heavy, that doesn’t sound good on paper, but each flashback feels purposeful and is done to flesh out this family story. The humour was generally alright, a lot of it really didn’t land but this is honestly the first MCU movie in a while where it didn’t feel like the humour took away from serious moments or stop the flow of the movie. The third act does feel a bit overstuffed with too many things, and it does have a formulaic CGI filled climax, which was a bit of a shame considering it pivots away from what is essentially a fantasy martial arts movie. However, it does have some incredible moments and it works well enough, it just felt like it came out of left field. There is a mid credits scene and a post credit scene, both setting up follow ups to this movie and the MCU, and they are worth sticking around for.

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The performances from the cast were generally great. Simu Liu played the lead role of Shang-Chi quite well from his grounded family life to the actual fighting. Initially Liu was just alright in the part, but by the end I thought that he was a great fit for the character. Awkwafina is also here in one of the main roles as Shang-Chi’s friend, who goes along with him on his adventure. She does act in the way that you’d expect her to if you’ve seen her other performances (especially with the humour). It doesn’t always work, but it wasn’t as distracting as it could’ve been, and the chemistry between her and Liu was believable. Meng’er Zhang was also really good as Shang-Chi’s sister, and Michelle Yeoh was a really good addition. However, by far the highlight performer is that of Tony Leung as Wenwu (the real Mandarin in the comics), the main villain of the movie and the father of Shang-Chi. He had such a strong onscreen presence, and you end up sympathising with the character, both through the performance and the motivation. Definitely one of the best Marvel villains, and honestly its worth checking out the movie for him alone.

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Destin Daniel Cretton is the director of Shang-Chi, I know him from his work on Just Mercy, and his first action movie was quite good. The cinematography here by Bill Pope made this one of the most visually stunning MCU movies. Aside from some washed out visuals at times, mainly in the third act, it looks very good, especially with the sets and environments. The action is also a highlight, with some top notch, fantastically choreographed and energised fight sequences that rank among the best in the MCU. A lot of the action set pieces are well thought out and put together. The CGI could be a bit of a mess at times in the third act, but I still enjoyed those scenes. The music was solid too, particularly the score from Joel P. West.

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Maybe it’s just because I’ve been finding most of the recent movies in the MCU to range from okay to just good, but there was something about Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings I loved. I enjoyed the visuals and the very entertaining action scenes, the acting was really good, with Tony Leung being the standout. However, I even really liked the story and characters, and the way everything progressed. I will definitely need to see it again to see if it still holds up beyond the first viewing. However, from the initial viewing I really liked it, and it ranks amongst the best of the series. Honestly, while it does tie into the MCU for sure, it is standalone enough that you can go into it having not seen the prior movies. It is worth checking out for sure.

Crazy Rich Asians (2018) Review

Time: 120 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Contains coarse language
Cast:
Constance Wu as Rachel Chu
Henry Golding as Nick Young
Michelle Yeoh as Eleanor Sung-Young
Gemma Chan as Astrid Leong-Teo
Lisa Lu as Shang Su Yi
Awkwafina as Goh Peik Lin
Harry Shum Jr. as Charlie Wu
Ken Jeong as Goh Wye Mun
Director: Jon M. Chu

Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) is happy to accompany her longtime boyfriend, Nick (Henry Golding), to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore. She’s also surprised to learn that Nick’s family is extremely wealthy and he’s considered one of the country’s most eligible bachelors. Thrust into the spotlight, Rachel must now contend with jealous socialites, quirky relatives and something far, far worse — Nick’s disapproving mother (Michelle Yeoh).

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Crazy Rich Asians was a movie I had been hearing about for some time. Romantic comedies are probably one of my least favourite genres of movies but some of them are great like 500 Days of Summer and The Big Sick. Obviously one of the things that stood out about this movie is that it has a mainly Asian cast and done by a major studio, and so I was interested in checking it out. Crazy Rich Asians is a pretty solid romantic comedy that can feel very familiar to other romantic comedies. However it is definitely something significant for representation, is quite funny, has a lot of heart to it and it is definitely worth checking out.

Crazy Rich Asians is actually based on a book of the same name (which was also followed by two sequels), however I haven’t read it so I can’t really say how the film adaptation differs from the novel. Like I said, this is a romantic comedy, and a lot of the tropes associated with romantic comedies are present here. It’s also not one of the more unpredictable romantic comedies out there and doesn’t really do anything too differently from others (outside of the different culture). Even with a different setting and maybe slightly different characters, it does still feel very familiar a lot of the time. On top of that, I will admit that the first half is nothing too special but decent and it’s the second half is where it picks up. It is genuinely heartfelt however, especially towards the third act. It’s also quite funny (as to be expected) and the dialogue is really good. At 2 hours it does feel a little overly long, I’ve only seen the movie once and I can’t pick any particular scenes to cut out, but there is definitely a length or pacing problem. It’s probably why the film improved in the second half, at that point it picked up in the story a lot.

The whole cast are great in their roles. Constance Wu and Henry Golding are likable as the leads and share some very strong chemistry. Other actors like Michelle Yeoh, Gemma Chan, Awkwafina (she in particular is a standout here) and others do great work as well.

Director John M. Chu hasn’t done a lot of great work, the only other film of his that I’ve seen was Now You See Me 2, but he also directed Step Up 2, Step Up 3, Step Up Revolution, GI Joe Retaliation and Jem and the Holograms. However, I think he did a solid job with Crazy Rich Asians. One thing that Crazy Rich Asians really does well is show off the culture really well, from the locations, the music, the food (so much food), all the culture is on display and I’m glad that they really took advantage of that for the movie. The only bad aspect of the direction was that there was one scene early on involving texting/social media with this weird editing and visual effects which really felt out of place from the rest of the movie. You’ll know which one it is and it really stands out but it’s a minor issue nonetheless.

Crazy Rich Asians is funny and heartfelt and worth watching. It’s second half is better than the first, and it’s not that different from other romantic comedies (falling into many of the same tropes and clichés) but overall it’s still good. It’s also undeniably significant with all the representation. I’m glad to hear that there is a sequel in the works already, and I’m on board for it.

Morgan (2016) Review

Time: 92 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence and offensive language
Cast:
Kate Mara as Lee Weathers
Anya Taylor-Joy as Morgan
Toby Jones as Dr. Simon Ziegler
Rose Leslie as Dr. Amy Menser
Boyd Holbrook as Skip Vronsky
Michelle Yeoh as Dr. Lui Cheng
Jennifer Jason Leigh as Dr. Kathy Grieff
Paul Giamatti as Dr. Alan Shapiro
Director: Luke Scott

Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy) is a bioengineered child who began walking and talking after one month of existence, exceeding the wildest expectations of her creators. When Morgan attacks one of her handlers, a corporate troubleshooter (Kate Mara) visits the remote, top-secret facility where she’s kept to assess the risks of keeping her alive. When the girl breaks free and starts running amok, the staff members find themselves in a dangerous lockdown with an unpredictable and violent synthetic human.

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Morgan was a movie that I was curious about, mostly with the cast involved with Kate Mara, Rose Leslie, Toby Jones and many others, it looked like it had a lot of potential. However, as well know, potential doesn’t always guarantee greatness and that was certainly the case here. Morgan really wasn’t all that great, but I don’t think its as bad as some people have made it out to be. It is rather underwhelming however.

This movie didn’t really capture my interest, it moves at a slow pace. It’s also predictable for at least the very least the first two acts, anything you’d expect to happen does happen. We’ve seen so many movies about humanity creating life and that life becoming dangerous, and Morgan doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. This movie had so much opportunities to do something different. It would’ve been nice to see something unique, at least the very least for the third act. Changing up the direction of the climax or going in depth with the questions that the film raises would’ve been better. However the third act here is a typical sci-fi thriller ‘outbreak’ sequence that we’ve seen so many times before. I also found it difficult to care about what was going on, its hard to really care about any of the characters because they weren’t really that fully fleshed out or developed. There is a twist that happens, even though I wasn’t really expecting it, the overall effect was deflated because I wasn’t invested in the characters or story at all.

As I said, the cast involved is great, but most of the actors really don’t get used to their fullest potential. Kate Mara is the lead character and she does a commendable job here, the problem is that her character is just so uninteresting and poorly characterised. Her character really needed to be something more interesting and layered, its unfortunate that the lead character seems to have the least characterisation out of all the main characters. Most of the cast with Toby Jones, Boyd Holbrook and others are good but aren’t utilized to their fullest potential. Paul Giamatti’s inclusion in the film was pretty much pointless, he was fine in his scenes but he was used so little it’s a wonder why they even bothered. There was really two actresses who stood out to me, one was Rose Leslie, who managed to add something to her performance that most of the cast wasn’t able to. And the other was Anya Taylor-Joy as the titular character of Morgan. She manages to convey both a childlike innocence as well as dangerous instability. Those two had a believable relationship because of Taylor-Joy’s and Leslie’s chemistry.

I liked most of the direction from Luke Scott. This film generally has a good look, it is very well shot and it really makes you feel enclosed in this environment and facility. With that said, there are a couple of fight scenes and they are cut and edited so poorly, I mean this is borderline Taken 3 editing.

Morgan is a disappointment considering all the things it had going for it. The movie doesn’t really do anything that you haven’t seen before with this type of plot, its hard to care about anything that’s going on and it really doesn’t live up to any of its potential. The performances (especially from Anya Taylor-Joy and Rose Leslie) and some of the direction is good enough for me to consider this to be a somewhat okay movie. But this movie could’ve and should’ve been so much better than it actually turned out to be.