This week on the Richard Crouse Show our first guest today comes from a musical family. Martha Wainwright is daughter of folk singer and actor Loudon Wainwright III and singer-songwriter Kate McGarrigle. Her older brother is Rufus Wainwright… but she has made her own mark with a series of critically acclaimed albums. Her latest is “Love Will Be Reborn,” a record that appears to cover the period of time where Wainwright divorced her husband after about a decade of marriage. “Love Will Be Reborn” was recorded in Wainwright’s hometown of Montreal, in the basement of her cafe, Ursa which also served as a studio. Martha joins us via Zoom from Ursa in Mile End in Montreal.
Then we meet Nicole Dorsey, the director and screenwriter of “Black Conflux,” a film now on VOD after a very successful theatrical run. “The Globe and Mail” praised the story of the lives of a disillusioned teen and an alienated man that converge in 1980s Newfoundland for its “atmosphere of dread and depiction of rural life as a hotbed of sexual fantasies and violence.” Stick around, there’s lots to talk about on that one.
Finally, Marvel’s latest superhero stops by. He’s Canadian, you already know him from starring on “Kim’s Convenience,” but very soon he’ll be best known for playing the title character in “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” He’s Marvel’s first Asian superhero, his name is Simu Liu and here joins us today.
Each week on the nationally syndicated Richard Crouse Show, Canada’s most recognized movie critic brings together some of the most interesting and opinionated people from the movies, television and music to put a fresh spin on news from the world of lifestyle and pop-culture. Tune into this show to hear in-depth interviews with actors and directors, to find out what’s going on behind the scenes of your favourite shows and movies and get a new take on current trends. Recent guests include Ethan Hawke, director Brad Bird, comedian Gilbert Gottfried, Eric Roberts, Brian Henson, Jonathan Goldsmith a.k.a. “The most interesting man in the world,” and best selling author Linwood Barclay.
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Richard joins Ryan Doyle of the NewsTalk 1010 afternoon show The Rush for Booze and Reviews! Today he talks about the world’s most expensive cocktails–listen in if you’re thirsty with a bulging wallet–and reviews “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” and Amazon Prime’s updated version of “Cinderella” with Camila Cabello.
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including Simu Liu as Marvel’s first Asian superhero in “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” Amazon Prime’s updated version of “Cinderella” with Camila Cabello and Riz Ahmed in the surreal “Mogul Mowgli.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including Simu Liu as Marvel’s first Asian superhero in “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” Amazon Prime’s updated version of “Cinderella” with Camila Cabello and Riz Ahmed in the surreal “Mogul Mowgli.”
Richard joins NewsTalk 1010 host Jim Richards on the coast-to-coast-to-coast late night “Showgram” to play the game “Did Richard Crouse like these movies?” This week we talk about to talk about Marvel’s first Asian superhero in “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” Amazon Prime’s updated version of “Cinderella” and Riz Ahmed in the surreal “Mogul Mowgli.”
“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” the latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and now playing in theatres, is a rarity. It’s a superhero origin movie that doesn’t suck. They haven’t all been terrible, but I still feel the burn of “Fantastic Four,” “Green Hornet” and “Catwoman” whenever I hear the dreaded ‘origin story’ descriptor.
But “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” doesn’t suck. It is a stand-alone origin movie with some of the best action sequences seen in the MCU jurisdiction, a couple of Hong Kong screen legends in the form of Tony Leung and Michelle Yeoh and a winning performance from Simu Liu as the first Asian lead in Marvel’s superhero stable.
The story begins 1000 years ago with warlord Wenwu (Leung) taking possession of the mystical Ten Rings, each containing untold power. Now immortal and unbeatable, for the next millennium he amasses wealth and influence as his army secretly has a hand in controlling world events.
His evil ways come to a (temporary) halt when he meets Jiang Li (Fala Chen), a guardian of the mystic realm of Ta Lo. After a flirty battle, they fall in love. Wenwu puts the Ten Rings away as they welcome two kids, Shang-Chi and Xialing (Meng’er Zhang), to their happy family. But the salad days don’t last for long. When Jiang Li is murdered by a rival gang from Wenwu’s past, the immortal’s megalomaniac ways return. He trains Shang-Chi to be his number one assassin, and, at just fourteen-years-old, sends him off on his first mission.
Cut to present day. Shang-Chi is now an adult, living in San Francisco under the name Shaun. He and his best friend Katy (Awkwafina) work as hotel valets during the day, and most nights stay out too late singing karaoke. Katy has no idea of Shaun’s mysterious past until one morning on the bus a gang of daddy dearest’s assassins attempt to retrieve a jade pendant his mother gave him. Old instincts kick in and Shaun defends himself in what is probably the most fun fight sequence in any Marvel movie.
The action now shifts to Macau, as Shang-Chi, with Katy in tow, travel to China to warn Xialing that Wenwu’s assassins are likely coming for her pendant next. But questions loom: Why does Wenwu want the pendants, and what secrets do they contain? “I don’t know what he wants with them,” says Shang-Chi. “But it can’t be good.”
“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” succeeds because of its action, its cast and story but most of all it works because of its sincerity. It is as epic as any other Marvel movie but it’s the small moments that really add up. The story’s emphasis on personal cultural details, relationships and family provides an earthbound grounding that helps balance out the mystical themes of the final forty-five minutes.
The charming relationship between Shang-Chi and Katy brings considerable comedic relief, but also helps differentiate Shang-Chi from his other Marvel colleagues. He’s not an alien, or a wealthy industrialist with a penchant for world saving, or genetically mutated. He’s a car valet with an extraordinary set of skills learned through years of practice. Liu’s performance is believable both as everyman Shaun and the heroic Shang-Chi, because the relationships that have formed him, with his mother, father, sister and Katy, are well detailed, showing us how and why he became the person he did. That backstory—the dreaded origin story—works, despite a reliance on flashbacks, and is distinct enough so as not to feel like Shang-Chi is being wrestled into the MCU.
The MCU influence becomes evident in the film’s busy climax. What was once a character drama, with great action sequences, that touched on issues of generational trauma via heartfelt performances—Leung elevates every scene he’s in with his majestic presence—switches gears to full blown, muddy CGI. The climatic world saving battle fills the screen with action, but compared to what came before—more up-close-and-personal fight scenes—it feels overblown and uninteresting.
Until that sequence, however, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” has the heroics, heart, humor and homages to Asian culture to make it the best, and most fun, standalone Marvel movie since “Black Panther.”
A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at the Michael B. Jordan boxing drama “Creed II,” the on-line romp of “Ralph Breaks the Internet” and the odd couple buddy film “Green Book.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Jennifer Burke to have a look at the weekend’s big releases, the boxing drama “Creed II,” the on-line romp of “Ralph Breaks the Internet” and the odd couple buddy film “Green Book.”
Whoever said history never repeats didn’t work in Hollywood. Remakes and reboots have taken over theatres, recycling ideas and characters in what can sometimes feel like a continuous case of déjà vu. This week we have “Creed II” a sequel to a reboot, which is also a remake of sorts of a film made before star Michael B. Jordan was even born.
When we last saw Adonis Creed (Jordan) he was a young man who never knew his dad, former world champion boxer Apollo Creed. He did, however, inherit the old man’s love of boxing and much of his skill. Working with his dad’s old friend Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) to get into ring-ready shape he, like his father before him, wins the respect of the boxing world.
In the new film he finds confronted by his father’s legacy in the form of Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), the son of the man who killed Apollo in the ring decades ago.
The year was 1985. Apollo Creed came out of a five-year retirement to give Soviet Olympic boxer Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) a good old-fashioned American pummelling. Instead, with Rocky in his corner, Apollo is beaten senseless by the 6 foot 5 inch steroid-enhanced Russian. Just as Rocky drops the towel to end the fight Drago delivers the coup de grâce, a fatal blow that kills Apollo in centre ring. Determined to avenge Apollo’s death Rocky squares off with Drago in the Soviet Union in a Christmas season match. Journeyman Rocky shocks the world by winning, beating the statuesque Eastern Bloc fighter by knockout.
Flash forward to “Creed II.” The sting of that Reagan-era loss still bothers Drago (Lundgren, who else?). Shaping his son Viktor (Florian Munteanu) into a lean, mean fighting machine. Drago seeks to vicariously regain honour in the ring. “In Russia,”
Drago says, “no one will touch the Drago name. Everything changed that night.”
Father and son challenge Adonis, now the world heavyweight champion, to a match. “My son will break your biy,” Drago says, taunting Rocky. Despite Rocky’s warnings Adonis accepts the fight, looking for vengeance for a man he never knew. The showdown between the duelling sons brings into focus the shared legacy of the four men, Adonis, Viktor, Drago and Rocky.
“Creed II” isn’t really a movie about boxing. There are two brutal fight scenes but narratively this is about finding a sense of purpose, inside and outside of the ring. It’s about the why rather than the how. On that score it works. Director Steven Caple Jr. focuses on the characters allowing us to get to know them better, or in the case of Rocky and Drago, get reacquainted with them.
The film takes its time setting up the relationships before getting into the more traditional “Rocky” tropes, ie: unconventional but effective training methods and a rousing finale, complete with a riff on Bill Conti’s rousing “Rocky” theme song “Gonna Fly Now.”
This study of fathers and sons, of vengeance and reputation is really a look at brittle masculinity. These characters are all broken somehow, looking for something they are unlikely to find in the ring. “Why do you fight?” Rocky asks Adonis several times, sending him off on an introspective journey that leads him back to where his quest began, his father.
“Creed II” reverberates with the echoes of “Rocky” past but transcends being an exercise in déjà vu by amping up the emotional content to TKO levels. It is neither a rehash nor completely original work. It’s simply another puzzle piece in the feel good “Rocky” saga.