Two go to the cinema

I can’t remember the last time I went to the cinema – before the pandemic, obviously, and probably quite some time before that. But last night we spotted that the new Marvel film, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, was showing at our local cinema in Bowness, and on a whim we decided to book tickets and give it a go.

We were a little nervous because we weren’t quite sure what to expect in terms of social distancing, masks, safety etc. But in the event it was excellent. There were only a handful of people in the auditorium, which was sad for the owners trying to make a living, but meant we were well spaced out with no random people breathing down our necks. The whole place had been cleaned until it shone. And there was a ventilation unit running the whole time we were there.

The film was great fun. It’s typical Marvel fare with one interesting difference – virtually all of the characters (and lead actors) are of east Asian/Chinese origin. They included old favourites Michelle Yeoh and Tony Leung, but also some newcomers – who, rather unusually, didn’t conform to the usual Barbie-and-Ken stereotypes of “attractiveness”. A refreshing change.

The plot deals with a man given immortality and immense power from wearing ten metal rings around his arms, and his son’s battle to stop him destroying their ancestral home. Or something. I probably wasn’t paying too much attention because I was so wrapped up in the Chinese elements of the film. The constant flashes of yin-yang symbolism, the music, and most of all, the fight scenes that used tai-chi-chuan rather than the more common karate or kung fu. I studied (practised?) tai chi for over eight years and although I’m hardly an expert, I recognised many of the movements and techniques, including using an opponent’s own power against them. It was lovely to watch and made me think seriously about taking up tai chi again.

Some aspects of the film were less convincing, including mystic creatures straight out of the Fantastic Beasts catalogue, and Ben Kingsley channelling John Lennon after a particularly bad acid trip. But overall it was high entertainment, and the sheer joy of being back at the cinema and doing something so normal again was nearly overwhelming. We even cheered at the p-pah p-pah p-pah fanfare of the Pearl & Dean adverts, so you can tell how much it meant to us!

And *whispers* the new James Bond movie is out at the end of the month…

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