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Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was the wonderful surprise and jolt to the Marvel Cinematic Universe we didn’t see coming. Coming in at the tail end of the summer and kicking all sorts of butt, the film provided a brand new flex for the MCU. Now its coming to 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray after already dropping on Disney+ a few weeks back to promote their IMAX aspect ratio option. This release comes with an Atmos track, some deleted scenes and a couple of featurettes. That awesome making of that’s on Disney+? Nowhere to be found. Nonetheless, this is how we physical media lovers will have to best enjoy the film. It arrives on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ay on November 30th. The paid Amazon Associates pre-order link is currently non-existent, but we’ll do our best to have it up and added back to this review when it returns.

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Film

Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings stars Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, who must face the past he thought he left behind and confront his father, leader of the dangerous Ten Rings organization. The film also stars Awkwafina as Shang-Chi’s friend Katy, Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, and Florian Munteanu, with Michelle Yeoh as Ying Nan and Tony Leung as Xu Wenwu.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings sure hid all of its goods when doing the marketing. Looking like a pretty generic origin story for a superhero, the film we wound up getting would be anything but. Shang-Chi really jumped forward, sidestepping a full origin tale and bursting with a fresh energy that felt in step with the Marvel wheelhouse, while also feeling like it was breaking free from the confines of that wheelhouse.

As we head toward 30 films in the MCU canon (Well, who knows what multiverse insanity might include older films as part of it now), one of the things that has become more and more apparent is a same samey look and feel to the aesthetic and visuals of these films. There’s a constant restraint for symmetry across the films in this franchise that is a nice idea but makes some films a bit more dull. Some are able to shine through despite it (Gunn, Waititi, Coogler), but many all look like they have the same second unit team on them again and again with the same bells and whistles every time.

Shang-Chi really livens this up from the beginning and all the way through to the end. From not just the fight choreography, but the way these sequences are costumed, colored, set-designed and shot. You get the goods of a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon wire-fu, a street-level raw fight like that of a Bruce Lee/Sonny Chiba exposition and even the glory of a big Kaiju Battle among other great sequences in the film. These have a voice, a vision and a character all to themselves that beg the second unit to get outside the box and be different. In order to succeed and be its best, Shang-Chi needed those moments to matter most.

The film really benefits that its characters and the drama with family is just as good as the action scenes in the film. From the fun, earnest nature of the leads, to do the deep father son relationship between hero and villain, the film really adds some terrific new flavor to the MCU. Sure, we’ve seen dad issues before, but this one really sings in a different way, and in more successful ways than we’ve had so far. And in terms of some of the other characters, I’d love Awkwafina to be the side kick in any and every movie going forward, please.

I was not expecting Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings to play like gangbusters for me. I had thought maybe I was growing out of the MCU after feeling underwhelmed with Black Widow. But, this movie played to many of my kung fu, kaiju and even samurai sensibilities in such good ways. It felt like a much needed roundhouse kick to my face to get me excited and back on board again. Leaving the film, I instantly felt it was a “Top 5” Marvel film for me. And after more viewings, that wasn’t overblown, it holds there quite well.

Video

Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are taken from the standard Blu-ray disc, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings arrives on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray as a 4K upscale, having been finished with a 2K digital intermediate. Its crazy to think that the biggest studio and cinematic brand on the globe is still finishing their films at 2K, but here we are. Nonetheless, the film is really pretty to look at. This 4K presentation gets a bit crisper picture and finds more texture and detail than its Blu-ray counterpart. It is a decent improvement, while not being a giant leap.

Depth:  Depth manages to be a pretty good strong suit. Scale on display looks quite grand and big, especially in the finale and handles the CG stuff very well. Movements are smooth, natural and have no issues regarding any sort of jitter or blur during the rapid fight sequences throughout the film.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and pretty natural with very strong details still sticking out among the more shadowy areas, nighttime sequences, surfaces, fabrics and hair follicles. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are rather lovely in this film with great saturation abound. Greens are in tip top form here as well as reds and golds. HDR comes in handily as energy burst, lightning effects, neon signs and more get a really nice bump in the glowing department over the standard Blu-ray.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Facial features and textures are very well visible from any given distance in the frame.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics: Well, Disney’s Atmos track for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings unfortunately comes in par for the course. Though, when cranked up an additional 15 notches from where I prefer it, along with a slight bump on the subwoofer knob, it played pretty well. Its has a nice balanced approach, which some good layering and depth on effects. But, as always, this is Disney, so your expectations need to be in check.

Height: There are some nice moments in this film that offers A LOT to come from above. Many action sequences scout characters hanging or flying from above. Many a creature or an object fly overhead, as do some fight movements from very low camera angles.

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer puts in some decent power with impact of punches and kicks as well as swooping of wings, engines, energy bursts, explosions, crashes and more.

Surround Sound Presentation: Surround sound does keep all channels alive and active and gives force to the side and rear channels while they build ambiance, provide unique offscreen sounds or help something onscreen travel the room.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.

Extras

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings comes with the standard Blu-ray edition and a redeemable digital code. All bonus material is found on the standard Blu-ray disc.

Audio Commentary

  • By Destin Daniel Cretton and Dave Callaham

Building a Legacy (HD, 8:53) – This one covers Shang-Chi’s roots, importance in representation and brushes its way through Simu Liu in the role, the art and purpose of the fight scenes/fighting styles, the impressively details set building, creating Morris and making the suit.

Family Ties (HD, 7:28) – This one goes over the history of the Mandarin in the Marvel films, the strength of the father/son relationship, Tony Leung in the part and who this villain is. C

Gag Reel (HD, 2:10)

Deleted Scenes (HD, 14:23)

Summary

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings zips in like a breath of fresh air in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with a story that feels much more unique as well as looking and feeling like a standout on a visual level. Disney’s presentation brings a pretty lovely 4K upscale to your screen and their like clockwork substandard Atmos track along with it. The extras are disappointing considering what they are offering on Disney+ for this movie. But, if you’re going to own the film, this is the preferred and best route in doing so.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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