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Tale of the Mural

by Yuxi Li
Liao Zhai Zhi Hua Bi
2023 / 79m - China
Fantasy, Action
Tale of the Mural poster

Chinese streamer films keep getting better, though the gains are marginal and there's still some way to go before I could start calling them personal favorites. Tale of the Mural contains some exceptional scenes, but overall it's too formulaic and not all genre elements work as well as they should (the comedy in particular is rather distracting and ill-fitting).

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Two demons are sealed into a magical world hidden behind a mural. The phoenix is taking on the sparrow, a demon with malicious intent. The phoenix sacrifices herself, the key to freeing her lies with a young painter, who has a big crush on the phoenix without actively remembering her. When he visits the mural, he is sucked into the world of the two demons.

The film is a typical mix of fantasy and action, with a romantic back story and some comedy to try and please just about everyone. The colorful cinematography and costumes are amazing, the CG still isn't quite there yet, but it's a clear improvement over most of its peers. Lovely, concise entertainment, if only these films could find a way to be a bit more distinctive they'd be perfect core genre cinema.