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L.O.R.D: Legend of Ravaging Dynasties 2

Jue Ji 2
2020 / 129m - China
Adventure, Fantasy - Animation
L.O.R.D: Legend of Ravaging Dynasties 2 poster

I didn't watch the first film (which I regret now), then again I didn't expect a lot from Guo's animated epic. China doesn't do CG that well and making a bold fantasy epic in 3D CG animation requires some solid technical capabilities. But lo and behold, while not a film without faults, Legend of Ravaging Dynasties 2 delivers the goods.

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Qi Ling and Yin Chen embark on a journey to save Gilgamesh, the last wish of the former Duke. Their trip is made a lot harder when You Ming, Thalia and Qi La show up. They're hellbent on stopping our heroes from reaching their goal, and they've got some mean tricks up their sleeves to accomplish just that.

Guo is a young director, so it's no surprise that the film sometimes feels like an elongated cut scene from an unreleased Final Fantasy game. It's just not quite cinematic enough to be a real masterpiece, but the lore is compelling and intriguing, the action scenes are glorious and the film feels truly epic. The character models are a bit flimsy (faces can look very realistic, but the body language still feels off) and there are definitely some pacing issues, but the fantasy elements are more than sufficient to make me want to go back and watch the first film, while looking forward to the conclusion of this trilogy. Good stuff.

The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity

Qing Ya Ji
2020 / 132m - China
Mystery, Fantasy -
The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity poster

It's nice to see China is finally getting competent at CG, making films like The Yin-Yang master a lot easier to stomach. This elaborate mystery, set in a fantasy universe, is quite a spectacle. It's still not quite ready to compete with the better films in the genre (Legend of the Demon Cat comes to mind), but it's very welcome filler alright.

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The plot is relatively intricate, following Qing Ming who goes to Tiandu to fulfill his master's last wish. Once there he gets involved in a pretty dark mystery involving the princess. At the same time, the structure of the film is pretty basic, with gradual reveals that uncover a lot of hidden drama between the main characters and leave no mystery behind.

The sets and costumes are lush, the cinematography is beautiful and the score has some excellent music. The problem here is that the drama is a little too heavy-handed and plentiful for a film like this, which creates some pacing issues. Other than that, a fine film, it's clear Guo feels at home in this genre.

L.O.R.D: Legend of Ravaging Dynasties

Jue Ji
2016 / 118m - China
Adventure, Fantasy - Animation
L.O.R.D: Legend of Ravaging Dynasties poster

An extremely ambitious film. It's a shame it came a bit too early. In 2016 China was still struggling to do CG well, which is quite a struggle for a CG-animated film. Director Jingming Guo didn't let that hold him back and went gave it his best shot. The result is far from perfect, but fantasy fans are sure to find something to like here.

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Dukes have magical powers that help them protect the weak. They each have a disciple, someone they bond with and help to protect them. Qi Ling is an orphan who runs into a Duke as becomes his disciple. What seems like a great opportunity at first, turns into a battle of life and death when one of the Dukes is trying to do a power grab.

Once you get used to the subpar animation, there's quite a bit to like. The lore is interesting, the fights are pretty over-the-top and the fantasy elements feel well-developed. I'm a bit bummed I saw the sequel first, that's obviously the better film, but I did have a pretty decent time, something I didn't really expect after the videogame-like opening.

Tiny Times 2.0

Xiao Shi Dai 2
2013 / 113m - China
Drama, Romance -
Tiny Times 2.0 poster