Shang-Chi’s Fighting Tournament Explained | Screen Rant

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings featured a fighting tournament. Here’s what we know about the film’s fight club, including who started it.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings featured a martial arts tournament that involved an underground fight club – and here’s everything we know about it. Marvel’s flexibility is the secret to their success; every MCU movie is really a mash-up of superhero action with another genre, ranging from the slapstick comedy of Thor: Ragnarok to the political thriller of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Shang-Chi is no exception, serving as the MCU’s first martial arts blockbuster, largely inspired by the wuxia style. “Authenticity and respect and staying true to this genre was the main objective from day one,” director Destin Daniel Cretton explained in an interview with Empire. “There’s choreography that’s reminiscent of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and other fight scenes are inspired by Jackie Chan. We also had choreographers from mainland China who created some beautiful wuxia-style fight scenes.


Now that the movie is out in theaters, it’s easy to see how Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings draws on Hong Kong films rather more than it does on the comics themselves, which heavily relied on stereotypes in the past. Screenwriter David Callaham paid homages to movies such as Kung Fu Hustle, which featured flying bracelets and wuxia action scenes, and House of Flying Daggers, while there are also marked similarities to martial arts fighting games such as Mortal Kombat. While early reports suggested Shang-Chi was the story of a martial arts tournament, the actual film didn’t center the tournament itself, but it showcased how integral the martial arts fight club, owned by Shang-Chi’s sister Xialing, was to moving the story forward.

Related: How MCU’s Abomination Is Different In Shang-Chi

The fight club/tournament also featured fights between Doctor Strange‘s Wong and The Incredible Hulk‘s Abomination, as well as a martial arts battle that showcased Shang-Chi and Xialing’s skills. The tournament never happened in the comics, which means even readers of Shang-Chi comics didn’t necessarily know what to expect from the film. Here’s everything to know about the tournament that features in the MCU movie.

The Tournament Isn’t For Leadership Of The Ten Rings

The Ten Rings were introduced in the Iron Man films as a cell-based terrorist organization, which was happy to use advanced technology in pursuit of its own ends. The group kidnapped Tony Stark in the first Iron Man and attempted to force him to build weapons for them, unwittingly giving him the opportunity to create the Iron Man prototype. Viewers finally learned a little about the history of the Ten Rings in the Marvel one-shot “All Hail the King,” which focused on the disgraced actor Trevor Slattery, who pretended to be the organization’s traditional leader, the Mandarin, in Iron Man 3. Slattery claimed the Ten Rings are believed to have been active since the Middle Ages, and while researching the role of the Mandarin he found competing portrayals he had combined into a composite.

However, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings confirms there has only been one Mandarin, Wenwu (portrayed by Tony Leung), and the underground tournament has nothing to do with the secret organization’s succession. The tournament is something Xialing, Wenwu’s daughter and sister to Shang-Chi, established when she ran away from home. It’s essentially a fight club where people come to duke it out in the ring (or in side rooms if they’re not the feature attraction). The fights are broadcast on the dark web and viewers can bet on who they think will win for money. Whoever wins each tournament gets a sizable cash prize as well. The secret fight club doesn’t remain secret for long, however, after Shang-Chi heads there and he and Xialing wind up fighting Wenwu’s assassins.

Shang-Chi’s Mortal Kombat Matches

The tournament in Shang-Chi appears to draw on Mortal Kombat as much as anything, with mismatched duels in which super-powered opponents do battle against one another. That makes a refreshing change from the typical MCU versus matches, where heroes and villains typically serve as twisted mirror images of one another and it is intelligence or strength of will that allows one to triumph over the other. Participants in Shang-Chi‘s Ten Rings tournament include:

  • The Abomination, a physical powerhouse who matched the Hulk in The Incredible Hulk – and, now that Banner has been transformed into “Professor Hulk” and badly injured using the Infinity Gauntlet in Avengers: Endgame, may well be the strongest man alive. This Gamma-powered behemoth has continued to mutate over the years, now more closely resembling his comic book counterpart.
  • Wong, a powerful and experienced Master of the Mystic Arts, is the one to fight Abomination in the film for money and later calls on Shang-Chi to determine what the Ten Rings are trying to summon.
  • Shang-Chi’s estranged sister Xialing, a martial artist who met Shang-Chi in the ring, where they physically and verbally sparred because she was still upset at him for never coming back to get her from their father’s home years prior.
  • Finally, an unnamed Black Widow and an Extremis soldier appear in the underground tournament, battling each other as Shang-Chi and his best friend Katy pass by the various fight cages.

Related: The MCU Shang-Chi Is Unrecognizable From The Comics

Where Is Shang-Chi’s Tournament Taking Place?

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Shang-Chi’s underground tournament took place in Macao, a city in the southern region of China (it’s where parts of the film were also shot). Shang-Chi headed there after receiving a postcard with a dragon on the front and an address on the back. He assumed it was from his sister Xialing, but it was actually sent from the Mandarin himself in a bid to have them both in the same place at once. The tournament itself was started by Xialing, who left her father’s control at the age of 16 after realizing Shang-Chi was not coming back for her after he left on a mission for Wenwu. Having the tournament be set in Macao meant both Shang-Chi and Xialing were closer in proximity to their father and to Ta Lo, the fantastical realm from where their mother originally lived before she married Wenwu.

Ultimately, the brutal tournament is key to Shang-Chi and, while it isn’t a tournament that reveals the successor to Wenwu’s Ten Rings (which unsurprisingly ended up going to Shang-Chi), it furthers the story and also works to bring Wong into the story, setting up Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ mid-credits scenes. It’s possible the tournament will also reappear in a potential sequel to the MCU film, but that depends on where the story goes.

More: How & Why Shang-Chi Reverses Bruce Banner’s Smart Hulk Transformation

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Shang-Chi’s Fighting Tournament Explained | Screen Rant