New revelations on ‘Shang-Chi’ opening battle sequence show how impressive it really was

shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten rings

Marvel Studios is notorious for its heavy use of CGI, extending to elements you might not expect, like Captain Marvel’s hair in Avengers: Endgame and some Eternals‘ characters’ entire bodies from the neck down. Despite this, most directors still prefer to use as many practical effects as possible, and a new interview reveals that one of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings‘ most impressive scenes was a practical shoot.

This is the opening, showing Tony Leung’s Wenwu in his prime in a gigantic battle on horseback. We get a taste of his martial arts skills and the sheer power of the ten rings, culminating in him almost single-handedly destroying the opposing army.

Now visual effects supervisor for the movie Joe Farrell has given some insights into how it was done:

“I think our mantra is always to try and shoot as much as possible. And those particular opening shot sequences were shot on second unit, which we shot in Sydney, Australia. We had the amazing ability to work with these stunt team that were all these amazing riders. I think they were based out of Mongolia or something like that. And they came and joined us. And they basically did some pretty amazing stuff with these horses when those charge the final castle there.”

“And of course, we’re limited by what we can do as far as our budget and our costing department. So I do recall we had probably about 20 or 30 practical of the guards outside the castle. And then we had, I believe, 12 horses racing. And I think the final shot that Chris and the team at Method Studios worked on was, I think a good sort of 50, 60 horses and a good couple of hundred soldiers there. So that’s all the beauty of shooting as much as we could and the rest was all in visual effects.”

Shang-Chi defied gloomy predictions to become a hit, and star Simu Liu and director Destin Daniel Cretton will return for a sequel. Alongside that announcement came confirmation that Cretton is working on a Disney Plus MCU series, though there’s no word yet whether it’s connected to Shang-Chi.

The post-credits scene in Shang-Chi appeared to tease the hero as a component of team-up adventures to come — might he be meeting up with more of the MCU? Perhaps we could next see Shang-Chi battling vampires with Blade? Or even testing his fighting skills against Charlie Cox’s Daredevil?

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is now available to stream on Disney Plus.