How to Cinematically Rock Chinese New Year 2021

12 Feb

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Chinese New Year is today and while it feels late when compared to previous year, that’s because this celebration follows the tides of the moon. A few new films from this country are attached to this time of the year but this time ’round not so much thematically.

Not to flog a dead horse (or ox, as this year represents), the pandemic has done enough to cause problems for the timeline when certain movies are released. Some are developed with the hashtag #blockbuster in mind, and others to show renewal.

Only three works in the fantasy front pop because there’s no more. I hoped for Deep Sea to debut, and it’s no doubt delayed. In what we can enjoy after their release in the homeland and in other territories by Well GO USA are:

Gods: Nezha Reborn
Feb 12-15

This modern update of Nezha sounds very promising, especially when the trailer takes on tones of Akira, Blade Runner and Mad Max! What can go wrong? If you’ve enjoyed White Snake from a few years ago, then Light Chaser Animation Studios and Warner Bros Eastern Division have a hit!

Synopsis: Three thousand years ago, both humans and gods faced a great catastrophe. Not wanting Nezha’s soul to escape the net of heaven and earth, they placed him into a cycle of constant reincarnation. However, the dragon clan’s grievances towards Nezha did not let up, and Li Yunxiang, who had the primordial spirit of Nezha, lived in fear for his life. With the East China Sea at stake, Yunxiang will have to fight alongside Nezha to defeat the dragons and become a hero. [© Far East Films]

A Writer’s Journey
Feb 12

This live-action fantasy delivers some of Sony’s God of War craziness to the modern world, and it looks like every other blockbuster work coming from China. It visually looks good, and the only shame is that in North America, it’ll get a proper theatrical screening to show off the majesty of those epic Marvel Entertainment battles to which it’s clearly inspired by.

Synopsis: Adapted from the novel of the same name, A Writer’s Odyssey tells the story of Kongwen Lu (Dong Zijian), the author of a fantasy novel series following a heroic teenager, also named Kongwen, on a quest to end the tyrannical rule of Lord Redmane, under the guidance of a Black Armour (Guo Jingfei). But through a strange twist of fate, the fantasy world of the novels begins to impact life in the real world, leading Guan Ning (Lei Jiayin) to accept a mission from Tu Ling (Yang Mi) to kill the author.

Yin-Yang Master:
Dream of Eternity

This work is now available on Netflix to view and it’s a fun enough historical fantasy to get into the spirit of the Chinese New Year. However, I can’t help but think the story can be made better had it been set in the modern world than the past. Pretty boys Yuan Boya (Allen Deng) and Qing Ming (Mark Chao) are the heroes, and they go through the motions of a potential queer relationship instead of simply be master and disciple.

The two must work together to prove Qing Ming’s innocence; she’s been possessed by a serpent and I’m surprised this film did not go down the rabbit hole with some Stargate SG-1 references. It would not have worked, but the concepts were familiar enough to make me wish the producers opted to go for a different aesthetic than keep up with the tried and true in this genre of wuxia cinema.

This movie is an adaptation of the mobile game Onmyoji (Master of Yin and Yang) and series. With luck, we may see a translated version offered for users outside of China, so we can see what the fuss is about regarding its homeland popularity.

 

 

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