Tag Archives: Chinese

Who’s the Star with Netflix’s Wish Dragon?

14 Jun

Wish Dragon.pngBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Now playing on Netflix

Sadly, Wish Dragon is a very paint by numbers Disney-style product. It has elements of Aladdin, Mulan and Raya and the Last Dragon all mixed in, and I’m fairly sure writer/director Chris Appelhans even drew upon the song When I Wish Upon a Star for inspiration. This blending delivers on the meaning behind the lyrics, “The sweet fulfillment of their secret longing…” but fails when considering other details. This work can’t decide if it wants to be a social commentary/comedy ala Crazy Rich Asians or a tween romance. The balancing act isn’t well done.

The introduction establishes Din (Jimmy Wong) and Li (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) as kids promising to be best friends forever, a la Lilo & Stitch. Both are troublemakers and it’s cute to see them together. Unlike this franchise, they eventually get separated. The girl becomes a model and has forgotten about her past. Her dad’s motives are good, but it turns out he has an “evil” agenda. He’s searching for that magic lamp to grant him a better life for his family. 

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Saving the Child in Nie Jun’s Seekers of the Aweto

13 May

Amazon.com: The Hunt Is On: Book 1 (Seekers of the Aweto) (9781728420219):  Jun, Nie, Jun, Nie: BooksBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Lerner Books
Available to Purchase on Amazon USA 

“The Hunt is On” for Nie Jun’s Seekers of the Aweto. This herb heals any ailment a human has. Rumours say it also grants immortality, but only one out of many has that celestial ability. This plant grows on the heads of a chadolo, multi-coloured earth elementals and to remove it can incurs the wrath of Buddha. Locals believe they contain the soul of the soil that makes up the land, and they will do everything they can to save them.

Xinyue is a seeker of this plant since it’s his family’s business, but he’s something of a bard. He can play the drums and insects will swarm to him to do his bidding. They help him find an Aweto, but when he sees its alive and as cute  as The Child in The Mandalorian, he can’t kill it, and nor can he see it get harmed. The adventure he has with it is as wild as the said Star Wars television show and the Asian flavour lays in how exotic this locale is.

When considering this young lad makes a promise to protect it, to dishonour this land deity can mean bad things for his afterlife. His elder brother Qiliu doesn’t care; The family trade is to locate and sell it to the highest bidder. Volume one sets up the conflict still to come–it’s him and the plant, or him and his brother. The matriarch believes he’ll do what’s right, and it’s no surprise she passes on in this tale. Nobody can dictate what he can do.

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Finding The Legend of Hei is Like Coaxing a Cat out of Hiding

11 May

The Legend Of HeiBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Shout Factory

Available to order (when back in stock) at Amazon USA

No feline can be contained in the release of The Legend of Hei (罗小黑战记). Those adorable big eyes of the woodland sprite will win over many cat lover’s heart. Also, this movie about Luo Xiaohei (an elfin) has a unique charm to it which makes me wonder if there’s any merchandise to buy. There’s plenty to choose from on eBay, and the licensing potential is huge. When he’s competing against Kuroneko Sama (from Trigun), the challenge will be in brand recognition in North American markets.

This movie was released in China during the Summer of 2019 and made limited circuits at film festivals the following year before a pandemic halted those plans. This prequel to the lesser known web series is at least more accessible and my hope is for Shout Factory to get the rights to the web series so both are globally available. This title quickly sold out at the shops I checked out today, and even Amazon had trouble keeping up. There’s a book which covers the online tale. When this cat is proving hard to contain, I’m hoping Hei has that forever home in place. (Thankfully I was able to view this title digitally)

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What can go Wrong when the New Gods: Nezha Reborn Mythology Goes Cyberpunk?

27 Apr

New Gods Nezha Reborn poster.jpgBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Available to view on Netflix
Light Chaser Animation Studio

The release of Nezha Reborn in America may well be late, since the debut doesn’t coincide with any national holiday. In China, it hit theatres for Chinese New Year, and just how it fared was reasonable, raking in approximately 21 million in US dollars according to reports. This post-modern take is confusing. The visual elements are not altogether steampunk and not fully cyberpunk either. Had it been one than the other, I’d be more intrigued with the world building going on. 

Li Yunxiang (Yang Tianxiang) is a reincarnation of the god, and when compared to the other version from the Fengshen Cinematic Universe, I prefer the spunky miscreant child over this young adult. I kept on wanting to shout Kaneda! The dystopian vibe is straight out of Akira, and the plot deals with how a mega-corporation wants to control everything in Donghai city.

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The Legend of Hei is Coming to Digital & Home Video!

28 Feb

Coming to Digital
April 20, 2021

Home Video:
May 11, 2021

Over five years in the making, The Legend of Hei is a heart-warming fantasy movie adventure, bolstered by beautiful animation and enchanting narrative. Filmmaker Ping Zhang (a.k.a MTJJ) derived this story from a popular flash animation series he created in 2011.

The series gained immense popularity when it debuted online in China, and Zhang then decided to develop it into a feature-length movie. Following successful openings in China and Japan, The Legend of Hei recently screened at Annecy International Animation Film Festival and Japan Media Arts Festival to great audience enthusiasm. Shout! Studios is proud to present this film starting April 20, 2021.

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