New Gods: Nezha Reborn
Fantasy violence in excellent Chinese 3D-animated movie.
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New Gods: Nezha Reborn
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that New Gods: Nezha Reborn is a 2021 Chinese 3D-animated fantasy movie in which a young motorcycle courier discovers that he's a reincarnated deity of fire. Expect fantasy violence and demonic imagery that's likely to be too much for younger kids. There's fighting with guns, spikes, knives, swords, punches, and kicks. Characters fall to their death off of cliffs, are suffocated by pillows by bad guys while in a hospital, and shown with several swords stabbing their midsections. One of the characters loses a leg during a fight. There are frequent vehicle chases involving the motorcycle-riding lead character. At a low point in the story, the lead character drowns his sorrows in alcohol. Shot drinking at dinner. Cigarette smoking.
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What's the Story?
In NEW GODS: NEZHA REBORN, Lu Yunxiang is a moody young motorcycle courier hustling in the crowded streets of Donghai City. The city is controlled by four criminal clans, and a chronic water shortage plagues the city's inhabitants. At night, Yunxiang, with the help of his sidekick Kasha, breaks into factories to find water that he can then share with thirsty citizens. As this is beginning to attract the attention of the clans, the spoiled rich son of one of the clan leaders, Ao Bing, sees Yunxiang on his motorcycle and immediately wants to buy the bike. Yunxiang refuses, leading to a violent altercation between Yunxiang, Kasha, and Bing and his henchmen. In the heat of the battle, Yunxiang discovers that he transforms into fire. He soon discovers that he's the reincarnation of Nezha, a 3,000-year-old fire spirit. If Yunxiang wasn't already in trouble with Ao Bing's father, he definitely is now, and lurking above it all is a deity known as the Dragon King. Yunxiang must find a way to control how he uses the fire, and not just become Nezha when he's angry. He must also figure out if he really is Nezha, must learn the difference between Yunxiang and Nezha, and ultimately find a way to defeat the Dragon King and bring back the water to Donghai City.
Is It Any Good?
This is an exciting fantasy-action 3D-animated movie from beginning to end. While it would certainly help to be familiar with the story of the fire deity Nezha, a popular tale from China, the thrilling scenes of pursuit and battle help to make this an enjoyable movie, even if you aren't familiar. The animation is extraordinary, and effectively melds the surrealism of fantasy animation with the realism of what looks like a city from the 1940s as we follow Lu Yunxiang, a moody motorcycle courier who must come to grips with the fact that he either is or is possessed by Nezha. It's an epic movie in the best senses of that word.
If there's any shortcoming to the movie, it's that it's a little too long and sometimes gets almost lost in the weeds of the backstories of all characters, major and minor. Despite this, it does manage to strike a working balance between frenzied action and character development. It's a wholly unique retelling of the tried-and-true "reluctant hero" story. For those looking for a fantasy movie that doesn't get mired in too many "enchanted" these and "mystical" those, New Gods: Nezha Reborn combines the best elements of fantasy movies with the best elements of action-adventure stories.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the violence in New Gods: Nezha Reborn. What's the difference between fantasy movie violence and violence more often seen in adventure movies? Was this violence necessary? Why or why not?
How does this tale use the elements of a typical folk tale story?
How does Lu Yunxiang compare to other fantasy-action movie heroes?
- On DVD or streaming: April 12, 2021
- Cast: Harrison Xu, Nicole Fong, Victoria Grace
- Director: Ji Zhao
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy
- Run time: 118 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: February 17, 2023
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