When Alls Not Well in Heaven and We Need Jiang Ziya. Creation of the Gods 1: Kingdom of Storms, A Movie Review

Fans of the Chinese high fantasy will like Creation of the Gods 1: Kingdom of Storms despite its long running time and overuse of weak CGI.

Creation of the Gods I Kingdom of Storms (2023)Well GO USA
Coming to Theatres Sept 22
(Please check local listings)

When considering a lot of films have been made based on some part of the epic Chinese novel, Investiture of the Gods, it should not surprise me that one day, someone would attempt to adapt the entire text. Creation of the Gods 1: Kingdom of Storms attempts to tell the entire story and when there’s a total of 100 chapters, to bring it all to screen will require more than one film!

I’m glad director/co-writer Wuershan is attempting this project. I’m rather fond of his work in Mojin: The Lost Legend, and he’s on the right track. Hopefully the advice he got from James Schamus‘ (who gets credit as script consultant) isn’t for naught. He is best known for being one of the co-writers of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Even though I know bits and pieces through the various animated films released in prior years, it’s cool to see how it all comes to head in this magnum opus. There’s Jiang Ziya (Bo Huang) working with two other immortals to stop the Great Curse that’s threatening the Shang dynasty.

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When All You Need is “Yaga,” You Better Be Ready to Fight Instead of take Flight

Halloween season has begun! And to get your early scares on, The Belfry is bringing the cross country hit, Yaga, to Victoria, BC!

Kat Sandler's Yaga Title Card
Playing at The Belfry, Victoria, BC
From Sept 14th, 2023 to Oct 8, 2023.
Tickets are available here

Please check Playwrights Canada for other regional performances.

The formula for what Kat Sandler‘s play, simply titled Yaga, is about may well be like an episode of Twin Peaks for some attendees, but for myself, I’m thinking Murder, She Wrote. But instead of solving mysteries from the perspective of a best-selling author, the point of view is from an omniscient presence needing more than the usual sustenance. Baba Yaga is an infamous Slavic witch known to eat children, but these days, she’s not picky.

Ever since this show’s debut in 2019, various theatre houses have put this play on across Canada. To kickstart Victoria, BC’s The Belfry 2023/24 season and get attendees ready for Halloween, it seems the director Jani Lauzon added an indigenous touch on top. We’re in a birch house to listen to the very beginnings of life. It’s told by a woman shaman (Tracey Nepinak) in a set that I believe was designed to resemble a traditional First Nation longhouse.

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Netflix’s Monkey King vs Well GO USA’s Monkey King Reborn. Who Will Win?

This film has more of a DreamWorks style quality to the humour and approach to introducing Monkey King to Western audiences (again).

The Monkey King 2023 Movie Poster (Netflix)Now Playing on Netflix

The latest release of The Monkey King is a movie redesigned for today’s generation, and as a result, loses its touch with what made this hero great. When compared to the previous take (review link), my money is on the former. Here, it feels like four studios were duking it out too for how to reinvent this character, and although some parts of the narrative is faithful, its execution wasn’t all that exciting to keep watching.

As for whom Monkey serves, it’s easy to tell. He’s independent and helps no one but himself! Surprisingly, much of his origin story is accurate. When Lin (Jolie Hoang-Rappaport) discovers him, he’s quite the rascal and eventually gets known as Sun Wukong (Jimmy O. Yang). These two somehow become friends. The way these two play off each other to learn a few of life’s lessons is good, but ultimately, I couldn’t help but think this American-Asian made film misses the point on why he’s a legend. When considering Anthony Stacchi (Better known for The Boxtrolls and Rocketeer) is most likely out of his element, perhaps that’s why the love isn’t there.

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When Ghost Month is in Full Swing in 2023, How Can We Identify the Types of Spirits Said to be Visiting?

Sometimes, the best known spirits that linger around during Ghost Month are those from folklore and time honoured tradtions! Are you ready to face them?

Singapore Orchard Grave Veneration during Ghost MonthGhosts from South Asia come in different shapes and forms, and some are feared whereas others are revered. And it’s terrific they get loved in entertainment. In the past, I’ve explored the best of what cinema and literature have offered. However, when new releases are few and far between every year to recognise Ghost Month, I’ll have to look elsewhere to get my scares in.

As a result, the only book I’ve come across to bring various tales together, ranging from folklore to original works, is Asian Ghost Short Stories! This covers areas east of India. Although it’s not the perfect collection due to glaring errors with the folklore, and being mostly stories rather than recounting alleged encounters, it’s still a good primer to introduce paranormal enthusiasts to the lore from this region.

To honour this occasion, which started two days ago (Aug 16 to Sept 14), I’m going in a different direction this time. Through my research, I’ve learned nine types of spirits can roam the land! The book, Śūraṅgama Sūtra (PDF link) gives a great outline, and furthermore, the Hungry Ghost type (which gets its own festival Aug 30th) are sub-categorized! On the list are:

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Mother Land is More Than Just A Simple Siberian Fairy Tale

What makes this stop-motion animatedmovie magical is in how Mother Land connects us to what’s truly important, the love one has with nature and to not dextoxify it!

Mother Land (South Korean) Movie PosterJuly 30 2:00 PM at the Salle J.A. De Sève
Please click here to buy tickets

Siberia is a world few people have visited, and to visit it in Mother Land (Eommaui Ttang) is more than a peek into the mystic. This gorgeous stop-motion animated film directed by Park Jae-beom looks at the life of one nomadic tribe as they face common dangers. I’m left wondering if it’s worth moving to live in a modern city. Although the reindeer they heard help sustain them, is that enough?

In this movie, Krisha (Lee Yun-ji) and her younger brother Ggolrya (Kim Seo-yeong) must look out for each other. That’s the advice their mother gave. They are precious to the tribe, and when mama rushed to protect her child from a falling piece of lumber, the injury did more than knock the wind out of her. Something else has taken her spirit too, and the illness is not as simple as the local healer thinks.

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