Meewella | Critic

According to P

Tag: Tony Leung

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

“You can’t outrun who you really are”


The real start to Phase 4 of the MCU, Shang-Chi provides a new lens through which to tell a familiar superhero origin story. Like Black Panther, Shang-Chi fully embraces its ethnic roots through not just casting but the underlying mythology and martial arts as well as the costuming and visual style, with contrasting elemental powers. It is not quite so successful a package but it demonstrates that Marvel is (belatedly) fully committed to a diverse roster of characters. Perhaps the film’s greatest assets are Eastern cinema veterans Tony Leung and Michelle Yeoh. Although Wenwu is an antogonist driven by a single purpose, Leung’s performance provides nuance and pathos, even if the end of his arc is underwhelming. Awkwafina’s role will be divisive, but it provides a helpful grounding presence amidst characters already familiar with what is unfolding. A surprising attempt is also made to rehabilitate one of the MCU’s more controversial villains and I will be curious to see how it is received. With superhero action becoming increasingly formulaic, the martial arts choreography feels genuinely fresh (particularly in the beautiful opening sequence) and it does not devolve into CG monsters and blasts of power until the very end. Where Black Widow‘s attempt to tie up loose ends underwhelmed, Shang-Chi shows far greater promise for Phase 4.


MCU Phase 4: Black Widow | Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings | Eternals | Spider-man: No Way Home | Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness | Thor: Love and Thunder | Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

QuickView: The Grandmaster (2013)

The Grandmaster quad poster

“A blade not blocked never sings.”

Ip Man

The 108-minute American Cut clearly does a disservice to Wong Kar-Wei’s visually arresting historical martial arts epic, with disjointed jumps in time explained by interstitial cards; however, this is the version that is available to stream. The director’s longtime collaborator, the charismatic Tony Leung, is understated as the renowned Wing Chun master Ip Man; he won’t be usurping Donnie Yen’s memorable performance across Wilson Yip’s Ip Man quadrilogy. The Grandmaster stands apart when Wong Kar-Wei plays to his strengths, with striking cinematography — like the opening rain-soaked streetfight with kicked sprays of water playing with light — being as much a focus as the martial arts. He seems more interested in character moments than action, frequently bathing faces in light as shadow swallows the rest of the frame, as if to highlight risk and intrigue when people converse or observe one another. The pairing of Leung with Zhang Ziyi calls back to 2046, as individuals with a deep connection thwarted by time, another of the director’s staple themes — indeed, this feels more like a muddled story that borrows real figures than a genuine attempt at biographical film-making.


"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

Up ↑