“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” (Disney)

Tony Leung and Fala Chen star in a scene from the movie "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. (CNS/Marvel Studios)

By Catholic News Service

Sprightly wit paces the elegant martial-arts showdowns in this Marvel Comics-derived adventure, directed and co-written by Destin Daniel Cretton.

To the amazement of his best friend and co-worker (Awkwafina), a mild-mannered, ambitionless San Francisco parking valet (Simu Liu) turns out to be the superhero of the title, trained from his youth to be a semi-supernatural warrior. Decades after he fled China as a teenager to get away from his ruthless gang leader father (Tony Leung), the theft of an amulet that his mother (Fala Chen) gave him before she was murdered by a band of her husband’s enemies draws him back to his homeland, with his bestie in tow, and once again embroils him in family tensions, including the resentment his younger sister (Meng’er Zhang) continues to harbor over his abandonment of her in childhood.

Behind an overly elaborate mythos and a lot of bloodless action lies a basic story of good versus evil, though one that gains moral subtlety from the fact that dad’s latest scheme, which his children eventually come together to oppose, is the product of a delusion and is fueled by grief and the desire to be reunited with his spouse rather than by any wicked intention.

Along with vocabulary unsuitable for kids, the script, penned in collaboration with Dave Callaham and Andrew Lanham, presents viewers with ideas, such as the quasi-immortality of Leung’s centuries-old character, that might confuse those inclined to take them seriously. Possibly acceptable for older teens.

Frequent stylized violence, nonscriptural religious ideas, at least one use of profanity, a few milder oaths, about a half-dozen crude terms, a couple of crass expressions, an obscene gesture. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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