A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the mythology-based animated tale of Jiang Ziya is very violent and potentially scary for younger viewers. Also known as Legend of Deification, the film is the follow-up to Chinese box office hit Ne Zha but is noticeably more violent, with extreme, sometimes emotional scenes of war, death, and destruction. Main character Jiang Ziya (voiced by Zheng Xi) is tasked with executing a demon, but he can't carry through when the demon shows him an innocent young girl who would also be killed as a result. The demon takes the form vaguely of a large snake and has a woman's voice and laugh. A young girl is stabbed, threatened, attacked, set fire to, chained to a devil, and finally reincarnated. Two particularly scary scenes show the girl and Jiang Ziya stuck in a tornado-like wind tunnel, chained to what look like skeletons or ghosts, and another in which red fire-light spouts out of her entire body. Gloomy scenes involve war-torn villages, a man disintegrating, and the bones of war dead ("resentful souls") hanging from strings like wind chimes (together with a child's doll). Language includes a few instances of words like "hussy," "damn," "bulls--t," "idiot," "s--t," and "bitch."
What's the story?
The title character of JIANG ZIYA is an army commander who's called upon to execute the deadly Fox Demon in exchange for a heavenly position as leader of all the gods. But Fox Demon, known as Nine-Tailed (voiced by Sylvia Wong), has bound herself to the soul of an innocent young girl, meaning that killing her would end them both. Jiang Ziya (Zheng Xi) , unable to condemn the girl, spares the demon's life and is banished to the mortal realm. One day he meets a young girl named Jiu (Yang Ning) and realizes that she's the soul he saved. She's trying desperately to find her father. Jiang Ziya helps her on her journey, which leads them both back to the Fox Demon, giving Jiang Ziya one more chance to obey his initial order and kill Nine Tailed.
Is it any good?
Jiang Ziya is a complex, heavy film that won't be for everyone. The animation is undeniably impressive, and the Chinese mythology-based universe is intriguingly complex, with cosmic overtones. But while fascinating, the characters, storyline, and settings may be disorienting for those who don't have prior knowledge of the source myth. A prologue meant to situate viewers moves quickly and also presumes some familiarity. There are very few character-developing lighter scenes of the type which made predecessor Ne Zha fun, making this film also heavy on violence and action. Probably none of this matters to Jiang Ziya's target audience -- established fans of Chinese mythology and computer-animated fantasy -- but it could preclude the film from converting new followers.
Talk to your kids about ...
How does this movie compare to its predecessor, Ne Zha, or to other animated films from China that you've watched?
Were you already familiar with some/any of the movie's mythological characters and realms? Could you draw any connections to other legends or religious concepts you know about?
- In theaters: October 1, 2020
- On DVD or streaming: February 9, 2021
- Cast: Zheng Xi, Yang Ning, Tute Hameng, Sylvia Wong
- Directors: Teng Cheng, Wei Li
- Studio: Well Go USA Entertainment
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy
- Character strengths: Courage, Perseverance
- Run time: 110 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: February 9, 2021
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