Many thousands of years ago, a warrior named Wenwu (Tony Leung) comes upon 10 magical rings. These rings give Wenwu the strength of a god, but all he wants is power. For a thousand years, no-one can defeat him.
This lasts until Wenwu meets a young maiden in the forest. She can bend nature to her will and gently overpowers Wenwu, who finds himself falling in love with her. Wenwu removes the rings that have ruled his life for so long and instead devotes himself to his wife and 2 young children.
Eventually Wenwu’s past catches up with him, and his wife is brutally murdered in retaliation for one of Wenwu’s long-forgotten acts. Wenwu again turns to the rings and begins to build a criminal army bent on revenge. Wenwu trains his young son, Shang-Chi (Jayden Zhang), to be an assassin, while completely ignoring his young daughter he. At 14, Shang-Chi (Arnold Sun) is ordered to kill one of the men who killed his mother. He promises his sister he will return in 3 days, but he never does.
Instead, Shang-Chi flees to San Francisco to lead a normal life. Here he becomes Shaun (Simu Liu), a karaoke-loving valet who, when he isn’t parking cars, is hanging out with his best friend, Katy (Awkwafina). When Wenwu’s men attack Shaun on a bus and take his pendant (the only token he has left of his mother), Shaun and Katy set out for China to find his long lost sister, Xialing (Meng’er Zhang).
The family reunion is cut short by another attack from Wenwu’s men, and the siblings and Katy escape. They set off in search of their mother’s legendary village in an effort to stop their father from releasing a demon that could destroy them all.
Death of a parent; family breakdown; children used as soldiers or trained assassins; good versus evil; the quest for power; gender inequality; revenge
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has frequent violence. For example:
- Ancient armies fight each other to the death. There are explosions, people are shot, and a man is thrown off a roof.
- Wenwu blasts electrical balls at a maiden and tries to slice her.
- The maiden harnesses the power of the wind and the forest and throws Wenwu into the trees.
- Numerous men on a bus attack Shaun. There is kicking, punching, hitting, throwing, slamming, slicing and so on. One man has a knife for an arm and tries repeatedly to slash, stab and cut Shaun. The man also cuts the bus’s brake line, which sends the bus careening out of control down a San Francisco hill. The bus driver is knocked unconscious, and the bus crashes into cars as Katy takes the wheel and Shaun continues to fight. The bus is torn apart, destroys numerous cars and eventually comes to a stop, jammed against a sanitation truck.
- When Shang-Chi is a child, ninjas whip him. They beat him with sticks, make him fight and cut his face with a knife.
- Two characters fight in a ring. One appears to be a monster with gills.
- Shaun fights against his sister. They kick, punch, wrestle and put each other in head locks. The fight ends after Shaun’s sister kicks him in the crotch and head, knocking him out.
- Wenwu’s men electrocute people as they try to flee a building.
- Warriors try to attack Shaun with axes as he balances on scaffolding.
- The same warriors try to attack Katy. She falls off the building but is caught at the last minute.
- Numerous men fall off the building to their deaths.
- Windows explode and Shaun tries to stop a ninja. As they fight, the ninja tries to poke Shaun’s eye out with a knife.
- Windows are smashed out of a car, and a character is punched in the face.
- There are scenes of weapon training and fighting. These show Shaun learning to control the elements and Katy learning how to shoot arrows.
- Wenwu attacks and kills everyone in a restaurant while his young son watches.
- Shaun tells Katy that he’s going to kill his father.
- Wenwu’s army attacks a village with electrical weapons. The army fights and electrocutes everyone who opposes them.
- Wenwu kicks Shaun in the head. They fight in a yard with sticks and then Shaun receives a power punch to the chest. This blasts him across the yard and into the water, where he sinks into the depths of the lake. He’s revived by a mythical dragon that lives there.
- Katy shoots a demon in the neck with an arrow.
- The dragon eats as many of the evil creatures as it can, but it’s vastly outnumbered.
- Wenwu and Shaun fight with the rings between them as Wenwu tries to release the demon from the cave. Shaun bends the rings to his will and begins to use them himself. When his father sacrifices himself for his son, Shaun gets the full power of the rings and uses them to destroy the demon by making its stomach explode and its body fly into pieces.
There are no sexual references in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings shows some use of substances in this movie, including a reference to whisky.
Nudity and sexual activity
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- Shaun takes off his shirt for a fight and his bare torso is exposed.
- Wenwu and a forest maiden begin to fight, but this soon becomes more of a dance. In a later scene, they in love and married, and she’s pregnant with their second child.
The following products are displayed or used in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings:
- Funyuns are shown and mentioned.
- The BMW brand is briefly shown.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has some coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a fantasy adventure with all the action sequences and special effects that you’d expect from Marvel Studios. Although it might appeal to younger viewers because it’s the origin story of superhero Shang-Chi, it isn’t a family movie. Its themes, language and violent content mean that’s best suited to older teenage and adult audiences.
These are the main messages from Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings:
- There are elements of good and evil within us all.
- The choices we make in the present define who we are, not our pasts or our parents.
Values in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings that you could reinforce with your children include perseverance, friendship, courage, strength, community and teamwork.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings could also give you the chance to talk with your children about the real-life consequences of things like:
- disregarding daughters and favouring sons
- being blinded by hatred, greed and the desire for power or revenge
- subjecting a child to brutal training and encouraging them to kill
- turning every thought to revenge rather than working on forgiveness.