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Nezha Reborn

by Ji Zhao
Xin Shen Bang: Ne Zha Chongsheng
2021 / 118m - China
Action, Fantasy - Animation
Nezha Reborn poster

China's big cinema boom has launched a frantic search for stories to adapt. It's no surprise then that Nezha is seeing a big spike in popularity lately. Nezha Reborn is a more sci-fi/fantasy interpretation of the character, with some of his old friends (like the Monkey King) receiving notable updates too.

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Li Yunxiang is a young guy living in a slum. He partakes in bike races and does a little smuggling on the side, trying to provide the people in the slum with extra water (a valuable property in his world). When he gets targeted by the son of Boss, an arrogant rich prick, he gets the help of Nezha to plan his revenge.

While technically not quite up to par with its US counterparts, the film sure is ambitious. A sprawling fantasy world, big action scenes and bold designs make Nezha Reborn a film that stands out. I wasn't quite on board with the "cool" rock vibe and the flashback scene in the middle shows there are more interesting art styles to work with, but all in all this was a pretty fun flick.

White Snake

Bai She: Yuan Qi
2019 / 99m - China
Fantasy, Adventure - Animation
White Snake poster

A sprawling Chinese fantasy animation. It's nice to see China isn't just trying to mimic Hollywood success, foregoing the rather childish comedies that dominate the US animation market, instead turning to what they know best. White Snake is lovely fantasy lore handled with proper visual flair.

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The legend of the white snake has been featured many times before, this animated version is just another (loose) retelling. After battling an evil warlord who is using the snake's powers for his personal gain, the white snake demon loses her memory and is found by a young human boy. He is smitten by the girl and vows to join her on her travels, hoping they can find a way to regain her memory.

Apart from the dog (annoying comic relief), this is a pretty straightforward fantasy/adventure with some big action scenes to lighten the mood. The animation is decent, but the film's aesthetic qualities easily make it better than most of its CG peers. The plot and characters are fun enough, the pacing is perfect and the finale on point. A very welcome surprise.