The Irresistible Allure of Shang-Chi Villain Tony Leung

Hong Kong famous person Tony Leung first signed with an American agent again in 2005 but it surely wasn’t till Marvel got here calling that he lastly determined to make his Hollywood movie debut. He chalks that lengthy delay as much as “destiny” however both approach that implies that Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is the primary time a broader American audiences would possibly get a style of one thing extraordinary Hong Kong cinema lovers have loved for many years. Leung dug into his personal historical past to rework a personality that Marvel thought of a sticky conundrum into one of many its most compelling villains. 

Because the antagonist of Shang-Chi, Leung’s character Wenwu spent eons of his supernaturally prolonged life conquering the world because of the ten lethal rings he wears on his arm. However Wenwu additionally occurs to be the daddy of the movie’s titular hero making for very private stakes in a style that always takes its conflicts to a worldwide, if not galactic scale. Certain, there’s loads of precedent for bad-dad narratives in our common tradition however in case you’re anticipating one thing like Marvel’s reply to Darth Vader, suppose once more. Vader and his late-in-the-trilogy flip to the light-side is pure iconography however with Wenwu Marvel presents one thing a lot messier the place mild and darkish constantly combine and mingle. To drag off a villain that sophisticated, Shang-Chi’s filmmakers wanted somebody who might seduce at the same time as he repulsed. In different phrases: Tony Leung.  

Western followers of Leung will typically cite his romantic collaborations with director Wong Kar-wai similar to Within the Temper for Love, Chungking Specific, Completely satisfied Collectively, and 2046 as the place they first found his skill to mesmerize an viewers with only a look. (He is identified in China as “The Man Who Can Speak with His Eyes.”) Leung advised Self-importance Truthful that his 2013 collaboration with Kar-wai, The Grandmaster by which he performs Bruce Lee’s martial arts coach, Ip Man, is one he would possibly advocate any Shang-Chi followers try subsequent. 

However his darker, extra morally conflicted turns in 2002’s Infernal Affairs — the inspiration for Martin Scorsese’s The Departed — and, particularly, Ang Lee’s 2007 movie Lust, Warning is likely to be the higher indicator of what to anticipate from Leung in Shang-Chi. Neither of these movies is remotely kid-friendly, however in Wenwu that mix of intercourse, romance, and violence additionally programs beneath the floor of Marvel’s PG-13 superhero movie. 

Early within the movie, audiences see Wenwu’s first encounter with Shang-Chi’s mom Ying Li (Fala Chen). The meet-cute takes the type of an intense martial battle. “It is a actually attention-grabbing scene to shoot,” Leung stated by a translator. “It virtually feels just like the animal intuition. The way you meet one another for the primary time after which the animals will struggle they usually tease they usually’d get turned on. So that is the sort of relationship that I thought of on this scene.” 

The MCU has a popularity for being a largely sexless franchise. That is not horrible when you think about that the audience is kind of younger, however begins to be an issue as Marvel’s model of storytelling sucks up increasingly oxygen within the filmmaking business. Regardless of the MCU’s extraordinarily telegenic leads, actually solely Thor: Ragnarok has introduced any sort of true sexuality to the desk. That’s till Tony Leung strode down a hallway in sluggish movement, his go well with jacket sleeves rolled up and lethal rings glinting up his forearms. 

A part of that swagger was completely sensible. As a result of Leung was by no means truly sporting the titular rings throughout manufacturing, his arms have been marked with “dots” that acted as markers for the post-production CGI. It was solely when he noticed the finished movie that Leung realized how “cool” the rings regarded. However to be able to present them off, costume designer Kym Barrett needed to design a collection of seems to be that left the arms uncovered. Leung says his first costume becoming is the place he actually started to know the core of his character. 

“The way in which Tony performs Wenwu is simply so rattling cool,” Shang-Chi author/director Destin Daniel Cretton advised Self-importance Truthful. “Kym actually contributed to that coolness. To ensure that the rings to work, she needed to roll up the go well with jacket sleeves and it simply created this relaxed look. He’d be sporting sandals with fits and rolled up sleeves with the rings. Once we noticed it, I used to be identical to: ‘Man, that is the best man.’”

However swagger is basically solely a small fraction of Wenwu who can also be a classically romantic Leung character. He stands out as the head of the Ten Rings terrorist group and fully terrifying when preventing and conquering, however Wenwu’s can also be pushed, all through, by love and Leung’s explicit specialty: longing. That is as a result of surprisingly emotional script Cretton wrote with Dave Callaham and Andrew Lanham however Cretton additionally credit Leung with bringing much more romanticism to the desk. 

“He infused all the pieces with love which was shocking,” Cretton says. “I requested him in the course of capturing whether or not he thought Wenwu really beloved his children and he did not hesitate. He stated he has all the time beloved his children he simply has no concept how. That was a extremely massive epiphany for me.” | The Irresistible Attract of Shang-Chi Villain Tony Leung


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