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 Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity is a 2021 martial arts action fantasy movie in which a pair of rivals must team up to solve a murder and stop a monstrous serpent. Expect martial arts violence (kicking and punching, bows and arrows, swordfights), and fantasy violence with cast spells and battles with a giant "evil serpent" that wreaks havoc on their realm. One of the characters commits suicide by slitting their throat with a sword, resulting in bright red spurting blood shooting out of the neck. The imagery of the "evil serpent" and also of the "hair demon," among other demonic images, will be a bit much for younger and more sensitive viewers. Some wine drinking. While there is a central storyline, the overall movie is bombastic and extremely confusing, qualities that will make this, in addition to the content, a difficult viewing for those who aren't the biggest fans of fantasy movies, particularly fantasy movies from China.
What's the story?
In THE YIN-YANG MASTER: DREAM OF ETERNITY, Qing Ming (Mark Chao) is the titular Yin-Yang Master. Before dying, his master's last wish was for Qing Ming to attend the "Heaven Worship Ceremony" in Imperial City. Upon arrival, he's despised by a young nobleman named Master Boya, who suspects Qing Ming's motives because he has connections with demons. When a master is found dead, Qing Ming is suspected and seemingly framed for the murder, but when Boya comes to his rescue, the two soon become allies and even friends as they help to protect the Empress from the "evil serpent," the same evil serpent that killed Qing Ming's master. Soon, evil forces unleash the serpent, and as the evil serpent grows by consuming human desires, the Four Guardians must use every trick at their disposal to stop it.
Is it any good?
This confusing Chinese action-fantasy is a mess. Two rivals become allies and then friends as they solve a murder and then stop a recently awoken "evil serpent" who grows as it consumes human desires. That's The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity at its core. The problem is that the style and convoluted storytelling creates an atmosphere so irritatingly bombastic and pretentious, this central narrative is incredibly difficult to follow and, ultimately, care about one way or the other. Nearly every scene has melodramatic background music usually only heard in either self help documentaries rooted in cheesy mysticism or NFL Films highlights of touchdown passes. The male characters wear more guyliner than an emo band from the MySpace era. The dialogue is marred by constant martial arts fantasy cliches on the order of, to paraphrase, "in existence, there is life and death, love and hate," and so on and so forth.
There is also a giant hissing and growling CGI "evil serpent." There is, somewhere in this mess, the story summary presented at the beginning of this review, but so much of it gets lost in the pretentious style. There's something about a "Heaven Worship Ceremony" and the "Department of Celestial Observation." "Four Guardians" and a "hair demon." Teleportation. Protection spells. It's an exhausting watch of over two hours. The movie is based on a book, and it seems like perhaps the filmmakers tried too hard to stick to the book at the expense of creating a screenplay that effectively translates the book into film. The camera always moves, and most shots never last more than 2-3 seconds, even if it's just two characters sitting down and facing each other while conversing. Overall, it's an annoying and disorienting movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity is based on a book. What would be the challenges in adapting a book into a movie?
What parts of this movie were easy to understand? What parts were hard to follow, and why?
How would you characterize the style of this movie? Did this style help or hinder your understanding of the story?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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