Three Chinese animated films are coming this Lunar New Year. Those taking part in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing are in luck, but for the rest of the world, they’ll get international distribution soon. I can’t wait to see the very first one. It coincides with the animal this year is celebrating.
Run, Tiger Run is this year’s animated Chinese New Year wonder. Here, we meet Hu Don (meaning Tiger Cute), a young orphan who wants to be a guard of the palace. He’s no stranger in Chinese media though–he has a devoted following on the Douyin streaming platform.
Hu loves everything the tiger represents and goes to great lengths to wear garb to make him look like one. But he can’t be recruited unless he shows his genuine spirit, and part of his journey includes finding his parents. He gets the help of a former legendary swordsman, and along the way, they have to fight through a gang of highway robbers.
Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf is a media about two wolves constantly trying to get the better of super-intelligent goats. Wolffy and Wolnie are two characters who live up to the image of what if the pigs from Angry Birds was imagined as another species. But for the furry antelopes, they’re sort of led by Weslie with ideas in how to twart the lupine’s plans. Since its debut in 2009, it’s been adored by preschoolers and the television series is still ongoing. To date, there’s 36 seasons! It’s also been adapted to other media too.
Dunk for the Future is the eighth film adapts one of the most popular seasons to a feature length work and the hope is that fans will want to see this tale again. Although China’s national sport is table tennis, what we’ll get is a story about the team getting into the basketball spirit.
The Boonie Bears: Back to Earth in this latest annual offering will no doubt highlight more slapstick hilarity. The production is slick and more money has been invested in crafting PIXAR quality cinematics. When the bumbling duo finds a cube that’s crashed into their backyard, what they discover is everybody else’s pain. They have superhero type powers, and with their pal, Logger Vick in tow, they have to prevent an alien invasion from happening!
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Instead of just highlighting the movies from afar, the following films are more accessible to get into the festive Chinese New Year spirit. The links go to a streaming service to view.
Big Fish & Begonia (Google Play. Free)
This tale of faith, love and pain is drawn from many Chinese tales, and is amazing in its design.
Here, Chun, a young shapeshifter spirit, wants to save a drowned human boy from a fate he doesn’t deserve, but she must sacrifice something in return. However, the greater cost may well doom her kind, and what we learn here is one for all to ponder about.
Kung Fu Panda 3 (Google Play)
This finale of the DreamWorks trilogy was made at this company’s China branch, and labour put behind to bringing every bit of this world’s historic and artistic style shows it. Here, Po must confront his destiny. General Kai has the chi of all former sifus, and it makes him very powerful. But can the panda do it alone?
Legend of Hei (Roku)
Luo Xiao-Hei’s big cat eyes are far too adorable. After his forest home is destroyed, he’s feeling much more lost than ever. For the child, he has to decide who is in the right about the environment from the spirits and humans he meets.
Little Door Gods (Netflix)
In ancient China, there existed spirit guardians for nearly everything that’s said to be alive. On this list includes inanimate objects and when they are gates to microcosms, there must be protectors against those invaders of the macro world. Sadly, most of these entities would get forgotten over time since a lot of people stopped believing. But they exist, and without a role, these sprites must find a new job.
But for a pair of door spirits fearing the worst, they decide its time to venture into he human world to regain their honour.
This animation inspired by the Chinese folktale Legend of the White Snake has a lot to like. It’s not only a very cautionary tale about faith but also a tragic romance.
Instead of telling the story from the perspective of the bumbling male akin to Chinese Ghost Story, the onus is on what Bianca gives up should they wed. But this take is no fairy tale. There’s love and loss to be found, and it sets up what little sister has to face in the same vein. As for the grander scheme, please read the upcoming review of the sequel.
Wish Dragon (Netflix)
Surprisingly, a sequel is in the works. Although this story is a much more westernised product, its message is still Chinese at heart. Here, a young teen wants to reconnect with his childhood best friend and it’ll develop into a lot more. But when a dragon with the ability of Alladin’s wish-granting djinn appears, the chaos that erupts is funny.