‘Ne Zha’ movie review: Chinese animated epic reminds us that fate does not exist


The Chinese mythological demon child Nezha challenges his destiny in amazing fantasy adventure film

Wong Tsui-kai |

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'Nezha' is a demon child that is destined to be destroyed by lightning.

Chinese animated fantasy film Ne Zha is an adaptation of a famous Chinese mythological character Nezha, based on the epic novel Investiture of the Gods.

The film lives up to its hype as the best selling animated film ever in China, and is beautifully animated, choreographed and written. Refusing to waste even a moment of screen time on bad dialogue or unnecessary exposition, it tells an emotional tale of a boy who refuses to bow down to fate.

The plot begins by recounting the circumstances of Nezha’s birth, which because of the plotting of the ambitious antagonist Shen Gongbao, he is labelled as a ‘devil child’ and cursed by the heavens to be destroyed three years after he is born.

Nevertheless, his parents are determined to give Nezha the best childhood they can, showering him with love and affection. Despite their efforts, the young boy is ostracised, even as he tries to win acceptance from the townsfolk by using his powers to save the village.

The strong dramatic and touching elements of the story are interspersed with comedic moments and pop culture references in a fairy tale that is very well put together. The audience members will be invested in the characters and the twists and turns of the plot, even though the outcome is never really in doubt.

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The animation is both spectacular and well-designed and a match for any Hollywood superhero epic. The massive set pieces are action-packed and a feast for the senses.

The supporting characters are also well developed, which include his loving parents, his bumbling but caring master Taiyi and his friend Ao Bing. Ao Bing in particular was a well-written chararcter who is torn between his friendship with Nezha, and his own familial obligations.

Even if you might have already seen the original Putonghau version, it might be worth watching again, just for the Cantonese dub which adapts the dialog and adds a little local flavour.