A huge step up for Chinese animation, Jiang Ziya is by far the best-looking animated film I’ve ever seen from China, but the overly metaspiritual aspects that are so crucial to the story overpower plotting and character development, which is a huge detriment to the overall enjoyment of the movie.
A celestial warrior is cast out of heaven until he can perform the task he was cast out of heaven for.
Jiang Ziya, a man who ascended to a place in heaven governed by celestial beings and gods, is offered the leadership of heaven’s warriors (which would make him an angel, or something), but he must pass a test: kill a powerful fox demon that has been captured after many years of causing havoc on the earthly plane. Instead of doing the job, Jiang Ziya fails after allowing the fox demon to get inside his head, prompting doubt in his mind, and as a result, the creature escapes and descends back to the earthly realm. After a long time of wandering in shame, Jiang Ziya eventually runs into a young fox girl who is intrinsically connected to the fox demon, and instead of treating her like an enemy, they become allies in their quest to find and vanquish the evil fox demon. Together – along with a furry little creature (that can transform into a majestic elk beast, or something) and another celestial warrior – they get into scrapes with the vile fox demon and all sorts of adventures until Jiang Ziya finds himself at the crux of his quest, which is to somehow kill the enemy, while also finding a way to protect the fox girl.
A huge step up for Chinese animation, Jiang Ziya is by far the best-looking animated film I’ve ever seen from China, but the overly metaspiritual aspects that are so crucial to the story overpower plotting and character development, which is a huge detriment to the overall enjoyment of the movie. Where the movie should have been breezy and easily understood by a large range of age groups (kids to old people), the movie quickly loses all sense and sensibility within 10 or 15 minutes and never can find its way back. I watched it with my seven year-old son, who I could tell wanted to enjoy it, but he got just as confused as I did after awhile. The movie relies so heavily on the metaspiritual themes of Chinese culture and myths that it forgets to be entertaining and easy to understand. But if you’re willing to watch the movie purely for its impressive animation and character designs, you should get your money’s worth. From directors Teng Cheng and Wei Li.
Well Go USA’s new Blu-ray release of Jiang Ziya is out this coming week, and it makes a solid addition to any collector’s animation archives.