5610 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Shang-Chi the Master of Kung Fu (Marvel Comics) iconic

Shang-Chi

(Gisted profile)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

Shang-Chi is, along with Iron Fist, the major martial arts expert character at Marvel Comics. He was introduced during the martial arts craze of the early 1970s (1973, specifically).

Though he has no super-powers his combat technique is unmatched, earning him the kenning  “Master of Kung-Fu”.

Shang-Chi is usually involved in espionage stories, as his peerless skills make him coveted by intelligence agencies. His involvement also stems from his heritage as the son of the dreaded (and now very dated) literary villain, Fu Manchu. Shang-Chi is also notable for his Taoist worldview.

This profile is a gisted profile. It is an old one, as Shang-Chi is an important Marvel Universe benchmark character and had to receive game stats early on.


Background

  • Real Name: “Shang-Chi” famously translates into English as “the rising and advancing of the spirit”
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: Fu Manchu (father, presumed deceased), unnamed mother, Fah Lo Suee (half-sister, sometimes known as the Cursed Lotus), Moving Shadow (half-brother, deceased), Shaka Kharn (ancestor, deceased), unnamed clone (deceased)
  • Group Affiliation: Former member of MI6, of Freelance Restorations, of the Heroes for Hires and the “Marvel Knights”. Was briefly the leader of the Si-Fan
  • Base Of Operations: A fishing village called Yang Yin, in the PRC province of Kwang Tung/Guangdong
  • Height: 5’10” Weight: 175 lbs
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Black


Powers and Abilities

Shang-Chi is the greatest kung fu fighter in the world. He can take on superhumans or large numbers of armed men and emerge victorious. His training at the hands of Fu Manchu , and then MI6 , make him a formidably skilled special agent and spy. He would have made a fearsome assassin if it weren’t for his philosophical convictions.

He’s generally considered to be pretty much unbeatable in hand to hand combat.


History

Shang-Chi is the son of the global crime lord and mastermind Fu Manchu. He was raised and educated in Fu Manchu’s retreat in Honan, China, with only limited contact with his parents. He also has nearly no contact with modern technology – thus living in the ideal, pastoral environment envisioned by his father.

For Fu Manchu was already more than 200 years old, his life prolonged by his alchemical Elixir Vitæ. The Devil Doctor dreamt to impose upon the world the simple, idealised life of ancient China.

Shang-Chi, as Fu Manchu’s heir, was intensively trained in the martial arts and philosophy – both by his father and by various, highly skilled tutors. His best friend while growing up was a kid called M’Nai, who had been found in a razed village somewhere in Africa.

Shang-Chi knew nothing about the real nature of his father, and of his fearsome criminal machinations. Likewise, M‘Nai didn’t know that those who had razed his village were Fu Manchu’s men. Both boys assumed that Fu Manchu was a great man and a famous humanitarian.

When Shang-Chi’s half-sister, Fah Lo Suee, occasionally visited him, she would hint at the nature of their father, for she had opposed him numerous time in the past. But she never told him the truth.

Stalking Albion’s stalwarts

When he was 19, Shang-Chi was sent into the outside world for the first time. His father detailed him to killing Dr. James Petrie. Shang-Chi still thought that his father was an honourable man, and assumed that Dr. Petrie was evil and a criminal. The young Chinese fighter stole into Petrie’s home in Mayfair, London, and struck him hard enough to kill him.

However, the ’person’ that Shang-Chi had killed was an android constructed by Fu Manchu himself. Fu Manchu had already abducted the real Petrie. His goal was to make it look as if Petrie had been assassinated so nobody would come looking for the kidnapped doctor.

Right after the ’murder‘ a great opponent of Fu Manchu, Sir Denis Nayland Smith, ran into Shang-Chi. He tried to take him down. Though that proved impossible, Nayland Smith did had an impact, when he told the young man the truth about his father, and showed him the wounds he had suffered in his unrelenting war against the “Oriental genius”.

Full of doubt, Shang-Chi visited his mother, who confirmed Nayland Smith’s version.

Shang-Chi then visited his father in his secret New York City base of operation. He formally declared himself the mortal enemy of the Devil Doctor.

The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu

As Shang-Chi was wandering alone in the alien streets of New York City, his father send his childhood friend M‘Nai to kill him. M‘Nai, under the costumed identity of Midnight, was himself a fantastic master of kung fu. Yet, he was accidentally killed during their fight.

For years, Shang-Chi devoted his life to overthrowing Fu Manchu’s criminal empire, and to battling other menaces to society. He became a regular ally of Sir Denis Nayland Smith, and worked with him on missions for MI-6, a British intelligence agency.

The first operative of Nayland Smith he met was Black Jack Tarr. Tarr distrusted Shang-Chi for being Fu Manchu’s son and usually called him by a racist slur, “chinaman”. Shang-Chi eventually gained Tarr’s respect, and Tarr even stopped calling him that.

In recent years. Shang-Chi also often worked with agent Clive Reston, rumoured to be the son of James Bond and great-nephew of Sherlock Holmes.

Shang Chi with paired nunchaku sketch by Mike Zeck

Despite battling the Si-Fan, Nazi war criminal Wilhelm Bucher, his own half-sister Fah Lo Suee and other threats along with Sir Nayland and his men, Shang-Chi never actually joined MI6. After his unusual youth, he did not want to be anybody’s pawn and despised the Great Game of espionage, which he contemptuously called “games of death and deceit.”

The Devil Doctor

Still, the crafty Nayland Smith always found means to drag Shang-Chi back to the world of espionage. When he needed the Chinese lad’s help against drug dealer Carlton Velcro, he brought Shang-Chi to a drug rehab clinic. Smith showed him what drugs were and what they did, thus convincing the master of kung fu to help clash with Razor-Fist and Pavane then take Velcro down.

Shang-Chi continued to be involved with Sir Nayland Smith’s agents when he fell in love with Leiko Wu. Wu, the daughter of a Chinese ambassador who had grown up almost entirely in England, was both Reston’s ex and a MI6 agent, and became Shang-Chi’s lover.

As a close ally of British intelligence, Shang-Chi fought against the rogue MI6 roboticist Moridllo along with Leiko, which led to Mordillo’s accidental death. He also fought a man nearly his equal at kung-fu, Shen “the Cat” Kuei.

However, a MI-6 operative named Juliette had fallen in love with the Cat and, desperate to break the brutal fight between the two grandmasters of the Chinese martial arts, stabbed herself. This forced the Cat to carry her to safety, and Shang-Chi to let him go.

Tragic betrayals abounded, strengthening Shang-Chi’s distate for the activities he kept being forced into. Dr. Petrie was revealed to have been brainwashed by Fu Manchu all along, and to be serving him. Nayland Smith’s own nephew became a dangerous armour-wearing mercenary under the name Shockwave, fighting his uncle’s agents several times.

The tension between Clive Reston and Shang-Chi over Leiko worsened. As to Leiko, her duty ended up forcing her to turn against her own father.

Later on, Shang-Chi fought Fu Manchu in the last stages of the genius’s grandiose plans to destroy the Moon and devastate the Earth, forcing a return to a more agrarian civilization.

Both the master of kung-fu and Clive Reston smuggled aboard Fu Manchu’s space shuttle. Shang-Chi managed to reach his father after defeating his reanimated ancestor Shaka Kharn, who served Fu Manchu as his new surrogate son.

Shang-Chi eventually confronted Fu Manchu with a gun in hand, but his father turned his back on him, thinking he would never shoot him. Shang-Chi did, and barely escaped the destruction of the moon base along with Reston.

The Si-Fan Mysteries

Shang-Chi, Wu, Reston and Tarr left Nayland Smith and the MI-6 after that, only to be hunted down by a MI6 agent named War-Yore. Leiko tried to help the insane man (who thought that he was a number of great fighters from the past), but Clive shot him dead, to her disgust.

Later, as the 4 became embroiled in an attempt to steal the plans for a neutron bomb held by the South Seas pirate Kogar, Shang-Chi had a brief fling with Juliette.

Nayland Smith himself eventually left MI6 to join his four former agents. But Fah Lo Suee and her lover Zaran the Weaponmaster took control of MI-6 and employed its resources (including Shockwave and some Mordillo robots, such as Brynocki) to hunt them down. Fah Lo Suee didn’t believe that Fu Manchu had died on the Moon, and thought the five ex-MI-6 operatives had falsified their reports.

She was right about the first half. Fu Manchu came back, and assembled a number of secret societies into a revitalised Order of the Golden Dawn. His grand scheme to brainwash politicians throughout the world and destroy the UN building was already under way when he was detected.

Shang-Chi and his allies defeated the Devil Doctor’s plans, and Shang-Chi again confronted his father.

When he did, however, he was seething with anger. A short while before, Leiko Wu had briefly kissed Clive Reston and confessed about it to Shang-Chi, who forgave her. But when he breached the subject with Reston, who was unaware of Leiko’s confession, the Englishman had denied backstabing his friend, greatly angering Shang-Chi.

The furious kung-fu fighter brutally overcame his father’s new surrogate sons (genetically engineered creatures), savagely beat Fu Manchu and crashed his ship into the New York Harbour. He then retired to New York City with Leiko.

The Mask of Fu-Manchu

For a time Shang-Chi acted as a peacemaker to end the violence between two Asian street gangs, the Joy Boys and the Golden Claws. Meanwhile Nayland Smith, Reston and Tarr founded the company Freelance Restorations. It was headquartered in Nayland Smith’s Scottish castle of Stormhaven.

Unlike the creepy cloak-and-dagger machinations of old, Freelance Restorations would only take contracts they believed were ethical and clear-cut.

Shang-Chi and Leiko Wu joined them in battling the Cult of the Dawning Light, the front for a terrorist organization. Even when Freelance Restorations entered a period of financial troubles, Nayland Smith proved true to his word by refusing a lucrative contract from Fah Lo Suee to take down the Death-Dealer, believed to be an agent of Fu Manchu.

Still, Fu Manchu entered Shang-Chi’s life again. He was now desperate to preserve his existence by renewing his supply of Elixir Vitæ, and needed the blood of his offspring to do this. They clashed in the citadel of Honan, where Shang-Chi had been raised, and the master of kung-fu fought yet another surrogate son, a clone of himself.

Shang-Chi killed the clone then simply walked away to leave Fu Manchu, who was frantically licking the clone’s blood on the floor to ingest traces of the Elixir, to his fate.

The Book of Fu-Manchu

However, Shang-Chi came to feel deep shame over leaving his father to die in such an undignified way. He retired, seemingly for good, to a passive life in the village of Yang Yin, in the Chinese province of Kwang Tung. He spent much of his time there as a fisherman. Tarr attempted to recruit him to fight against the Red Wolves, an amalgamation of terrorist cells, but Shang-Chi refused.

However Argus, the leader of the Red Wolves made a formidable miscalculation and kidnapped Leiko Wu, cutting off her left hand and mailing it to Shang-Chi as a warning not to interfere. Again seething with anger, Shang-Chi allied with Tarr and destroyed the Red Wolves, saving Leiko Wu, slaying Argus and preventing him from releasing an incredibly deadly toxin in the process.

However, in so doing, Shang-Chi exposed himself to the toxin and was left with anywhen between a week and a year to live.

Shang-Chi retired again, waiting for death, but ended up facing Shadow-Hand. This man was trying to take control of the Si-Fan in order to become Fu Manchu’s lieutenant when the evil genius would inevitably return. Shang-Chi defeated Shadow-Hand, becoming leader of the Si-Fan and finding a cache of Elixir Vitæ in the process.

He used the elixir to cure the poison in his system, then ordered the Si-Fan to disband and abandon their ways before stepping down from leadership. They complied, but warned him they would be back to their ways when Fu Manchu would emerge again.

The Daughter of Fu-Manchu

From this point on, Shang-Chi didn’t manage to really get back into retirement. News of evil deeds and conspiracies kept finding their way to him and he couldn’t stay passive. He fought alongside several super-heroes against criminals and evil martial cults. He once opposed the Kingpin who had found another cache of Elixir Vitæ then assumed the control of the Si-Fan.

The Master of Kung Fu then went on a solo mission to oppose the spread of a new drug at the hands of the crime lord Cursed Lotus, never learning Cursed Lotus was actually Fah Lo Suee. He once worked along the Cat to protect a Japanese statue, only to be betrayed by him and lose his respect for him.

Eventually, as Fu Manchu returned, he found himself battling Zaran and an army of Dacoits along with several other heroes.

Shang-Chi was again dragged away from his fishing village by Tarr and Reston (back with MI-6), who asked for his help to rescue the kidnapped Leiko Wu – now Leiko Reston, although she still had feelings for Shang-Chi.

Their opponents, called the Comte de Saint-Germain and the Ghost, turned out to be Fu Manchu. The Devil Doctor was attempting to ravage the world using the Hellfire Objective, a weapon developed by Nikola Tesla back in the days.

Shang-Chi and the MI6 defeated him. The master of kung-fu also fought Moving Shadow, another son of Fu Manchu whose existence had been hidden from him until now. Moving Shadow was executed for his failure by Fu Manchu after Shang-Chi defeated him, Fu Manchu’s secret base was destroyed, and Shang-Chi returned to solitude to continue his journey.


Description

See the illustrations.


Personality

Shang-Chi is a calm, contemplative Taoist monk. He believes in attunement with the universe, discipline, humility and non-action. He wants to live a simple life and let the universe do the moving.

However, he simply cannot ignore great evil to which he has intimate ties, such as his father – or seeing people he appreciates be hurt. In fact, such triggering events can make him very active, and even downright aggressive. When Leiko was kidnapped, it quickly became obvious that being on the kidnapper’s side was a really, really bad idea.

This is probably due to the fact that Leiko has a way of getting under all of his calm and non-confrontational aspects to reach his basic human emotions – like his father did, in his way. Despite trying hard to be peaceful and detached, Shang-Chi remains vulnerable to these few sources of passion. These inevitably drag him to the underbelly of the world to cover his fists with blood.

Leiko has even made Shang-Chi enjoy some aspects of the Western world such as science-fiction movies, pizza, Fleetwood Mac or the Rolling Stones (those were late 1970s stories). Those tastes are always quite surprising, almost out of place in Shang-Chi’s general personality, but are genuine.

He will even occasionally dress in a Western way when his traditional clothes would not be appropriate. He once appeared in full black leather and shades.

Shang-Chi doesn’t talk much and is quite inscrutable. He dislikes polluting himself with death, deceit, double-crosses and violence. The Master of Kung-Fu trusts the flow of the universe and his own formidable skill and experience to resolve unwanted situations quickly and efficiently so he can go back fishing, meditating and mending nets.


Quotes

“Now we improvise. Go with the flow.”

“I will no longer play your games of deceit and death.”


Sharing

The links to follow us and/or subscribe to our monthly newsletter are at the bottom of this page.



Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Shang-Chi, the Master of Kung Fu

Dex: 10 Str: 04 Bod: 06 Motivation: Upholding the Good
Int: 09 Wil: 11 Min: 09 Occupation: Fisherman
Inf: 08 Aur: 08 Spi: 09 Resources {or Wealth}: 002
Init: 031 HP: 095

Powers:
Reflection/Deflection: 05

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Reflection/Deflection is a Skilled Power
  • Reflection/Deflection is limited to muscle-powered missile weapons
  • Reflection is limited to thrown weapons

Skills:
Acrobatics (Athletics, dodging, climbing): 08, Detective (All save Law): 04, Martial artist: 11, Medicine: 06, Military science: 07, Thief: 08, Weaponry (Melee, missile)*: 10

Advantages:
Iron Nerves, Language (Cantonese Chinese, Mandarin Chinese, possibly others), Expertise (Fisherman), Lightning reflexes, Scholar (Kung fu lore, Chinese philosophies), Schtick (Precise Blocker (bracers)), Sharp eye

Connections:
Freelance restorations (Low), the Cat (Low)

Drawbacks:
None

Equipment:
STEEL BRACERS [BODY 12]

By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: Marvel Universe

Helper(s): Jackson

Subscribe to our newsletter!