Disney brings the Marvel hit Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings to UHD Blu-ray with an impressive video transfer.
The Production: 4/5
Working as a valet at an upscale hotel in San Francisco with his longtime (and platonic) friend Katy (Awkwafina), Shaun (Simu Liu) is leading a fairly normal life. Until one day, while riding the bus to work one morning with Katy, Shaun is attacked by Razor Fist (Florian Munteanu) and his gang who are trying to retrieve a pendant that Shaun’s father, Xu Wenwu (Tony Leung), who is also the legendary criminal the Mandarin (and owner/leader of the Ten Rings, has been searching for. The pendant is one half of a pair that his mother Ying Li (Fala Chen) gave to he and his sister, Xialing (Meng’er Zhang) before she died, and may be the key to locating the hidden village of Ta Lo, where Shaun’s father believes Ying Li is alive and being held captive.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is not only an origin story for Shaun (who will become Shang-Chi), but very likely the origin for the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, setting up where the series is headed after Avengers: Endgame. There are subtle tie-ins to the MCU, mostly through cameos by Wong (Benedict Wong) and a few other characters seen in the mid-credits sequence, but this is otherwise a fairly stand-alone film. Simu Liu is commanding and charming in the role of Shaun/Shang-Chi, Awkwafina makes a fun side-kick without being annoying as Katy, but it is the Asian cinema superstars Tony Leung (in what is his Western film debut) and Michelle Yeoh (as Shaun’s Aunt Ying Nan) that really center this film in its diversity and martial arts roots. Director Destin Daniel Cretton (Just Mercy) keeps the pace brisk without allowing the expository sequences to bog down the story, making for a highly entertaining film.
3D Rating: NA
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was captured in 4.5k resolution using Arri Alexa LF IMAX and Mini LF IMAX cameras, then completed as a 2k digital intermediate in the 1.90 aspect ratio for IMAX cinemas and 2.39:1 for traditional cinemas, with Dolby Vision high dynamic range for its premium theatrical engagements (as well as streaming on Disney+ and other streaming platforms). For this UHD physical media release, Disney has opted to stick with the theatrical 2.39:1 aspect ratio (despite offering the film in either aspect ratios on Disney+) and only offering HDR10. That is not necessarily a bad thing, as the movie was framed with both aspect ratios in mind. Compared to the included 1080p Blu-ray, detail gets a small but noticeable improvement, with slightly more pronounced textures. The big leap in quality, though, is in the wider color gamut allowing for more vibrant colors (especially blues and reds) and stronger contrast, with deeper blacks and brighter highlights (the Macau fight club sequence in chapter six is an easy demonstration).
While the Dolby Atmos track on the UHD disc is not exactly a step backwards compared to recent Disney UHD releases, Shang-Chi does require an extra boost of the master volume on your receiver that Black Widow or Jungle Cruise did not. It is an immersive track once you raise that master volume up a few notches. The soundstage is wide with good surround and height activity when needed, and dialogue is clear and understandable throughout. LFE is good, but could have used a bit more oomph during some of the more intense sequences.
Special Features: 3/5
As usual, there are no special features to be found on the UHD disc, but the included Blu-ray version does include a few featurettes and a very engaging commentary track.
Audio Commentary with Director/Co-Writer Design Daniel Cretton and Co-Writer Dave Callaham: This is a fairly engaging commentary track, especially considering this is their first such recording, covering many areas of the production.
Building a Legacy (1080p; 8:53): A rather quick, by-the-numbers EPK behind the scenes piece.
Family Ties (1080p; 7:28): A loom at the film’s family dynamic.
Gag Reel (1080p; 2:10)
Deleted Scenes (1080p; 14:23): Eleven scenes are included.
Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a 4K digital copy on Movies Anywhere.
Shang-Ch and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a fun origin story with a very good presentation, but with the exception of the commentary and deleted scenes, the extras a rather ho-hum.
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