A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
One of the themes is on humankind's centuries of environmental destruction, and the distrust that has grown among a group of spirits who wish to get revenge.
Positive Role Models
No real role models emerge in fantasy centered on spirits trying to coexist among humans.
Violence & Scariness
Animated fantasy violence throughout. The lead character, who is sometimes a small cat, is pursued by three thugs who throw bottles and metal drums at it while cornered in an alley. A shootout between a robber and police. Fighting with punches, kicks, swords, spells, explosions. Some demonic imagery, particularly when Hei transforms into a giant demon cat.
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Infrequent mild profanity: "damn," "ass," "bastard."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
While a young boy, Hei is offered a cup of booze by a tiger-spirit. Background smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Legend of Hei is a 2019 Chinese fantasy movie in which a cat-spirit escapes the destruction of his forest, and must choose which leader to show how to use his powers. There's frequent fantasy animated violence, as the spirit characters do battle with punches, kicks, swords, spells, throwing each other around, and putting humans in a large city in danger. There's a brief shootout between a robber and police. As a small cat, Hei is pursued in the city by three young thugs who throw bottles and then oil drums at Hei, until Hei transforms into a large demonic cat and tosses them away. While a young boy, Hei is offered a cup of booze by a tiger-spirit. Infrequent profanity: "damn," "ass," "bastard." The movie addresses humanity's role in environmental destruction over the centuries, particularly as it pertains to deforestation. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is a story about right versus wrong, coexistence, and deforestation that's as thoughtful as it is cute. The Legend of Hei is a Chinese animated fantasy movie in which Hei, a young boy/cat/cat-demon, must pick a side in a rapidly-escalating battle between a spirit that rescued Hei from humans and a spirit that's trying to rescue Hei from the spirit that rescued Hei from humans. The movie makes effective use of the blurred lines between "good guy" and "bad guy," and the confusion Hei contends with as he must choose between the two, even as he's learning how to use his spirit powers. There are some moments of levity, as there's something amusing about a tiger-spirit of few words who holds a cup to Hei while he's a young boy and grunts, "Booze?"
It's a movie that combines many serious themes and conflicts with cutesy animation and engaging action. While the story sometimes seems on the verge of veering off into so many tangents and random moments (there's a shootout between cops and a robber while Hei and Infinity are at a table in an outdoor cafe for some reason), it more or less stays on track. The animation, while at times using some of the more familiar aspects of Asian animated fare, has an original style, particularly in scenes involving deforestation. Best of all, it's an animated movie that be enjoyed by both adults and kids as much for the messages and conflicts as for the cute characters and fight scenes.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.