Martial arts master Shang-Chi may the newest member to the Marvell Cinematic Universe, but his debut, Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, draws inspiration from a number of martial arts and wuxia films of the past. Here is a sampling of films you should give a watch to if you are looking for more in a similar vein.
The 36th Chamber Of Shaolin
In the opening segment of this classic from Hong Kong’s famed Shaw Brothers Studio, we see star Gordon Liu practicing a number of martial arts weapons forms, including using what are simply known as the iron rings. Liu is using the form “Tien Sin Kuen” or “Iron Wire Form” of the southern Chinese kung fu style known as Hung Gar, a style developed by Shaolin monks in the south of China in the 17th and 18th century. Jackie Chan can also be seen using iron rings in his 1978 film Drunken Master. Hung Gar master Chiu Chi Ling also wields iron rings in his role as the town tailor in Stephen Chow’s action comedy Kung Fu Hustle.
Zu: Warriors From The Magic Mountain
Tales of powerful warriors have been a staple of Asian cinema pretty from the beginning. But it was director Tsui Hark who married these wuxia tales and big Hollywood blockbuster special effects to create the genre redefining Zu: Warriors From The Magic Mountain. A crazy hodge-podge of standard kungfu film trope and visual effects wizardry – Hark would recruit ILM co-founder Robert Blalack – the film stars a number of great Hong Kong genre stars of the time including Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Brigitte Lin and Corey Yuen. Like its inspiration Star Wars, Zu: Warriors From The Magic Mountain launched a number of imitators over the years including such films as The Bride With White Hair, House Of Flying Daggers and even Hark’s own Flying Swords Of Dragons Gate.
Rumble In The Bronx
As Simu Liu’s Shang-Chi fights off a trio of bad guys on a bus early on in the film, he uses a move that should be familiar to fans of the great Jackie Chan, in which he pulls has jacket over his head to escape one of the thugs trying to grab it, spins and punches said thug and then spins back, flipping the jacket back to its normal position. It is a move similar to one Chan used in his 1995 film Rumble In The Bronx. He incorporated his jacket in a fight scene involving a group of shoplifters in his uncle’s Bronx supermarket. So it should come as no surprise that Shang-Chi‘s fight coordinator Andy Cheng worked with Chan as an assistant stunt choreographer on Rush Hour, Rush Hour 2, Shanghai Noon, Who Am I? and Mr. Nice Guy. The bus sequence also features a moment with Shang-Chi hanging outside the bus, reminiscent of another famous Jackie Chan moment, this time from his 1985 film Police Story.
Enter The Dragon
Early in the film, Shang-Chi and Katy arrive at the Golden Daggers fight club where Shang-Chi inadvertantly signs himself up to be a combatant. The tournament is a long-standing trope in martial arts stories from since the beginning of the genre to modern day even informing such things as the video game Mortal Kombat. But on the most iconic martial arts tournaments can be found in the Bruce Lee classic Enter The Dragon. As the behest of the British government, Lee infiltrates a martial arts contest being run by the mysterious Han (Shih Kien), who is using the games as a way to recruit for his criminal empire. Enter The Dragon was Lee’s final completed film and still stands as a highwater mark in the genre today.
The Heroic Trio
While Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings may not be Michelle Yeoh’s second foray into the Marvel Cinematic Universe – She also has a short cameo as Aleta Ogord in 2017’s Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2 – it is also not her first time playing a superhero. In 1993, she starred as Invisible Woman – no not that one – in director Johnnie To’s action film The Heroic Trio. In the film, Yeoh teams up with Maggie Cheung and Anita Mui team up to stop an evil menace to the city who is stealing babies in order to perform a supernatural ritual that will restore an emperor to China. The film proved popular enough that To and his three leads reunited for a quickie sequel, Executioners which came out later that same year. Throughout her entire career, Yeoh starred in a number of action films where she got to show off some badass fighting skills including Yes Madam!, Wing Chun, Silver Hawk and the classic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.