Length: 110 minutes
Directors: Cheng Teng, Li Wei
Cast: Zheng Xi, Yang Ning, Yan Meme, Ji Guanlin, Jiang Guangtao
4 out of 5 stars
Jiang Zi Ya: Legend Of Deification is a Chinese animated feature that is based loosely on the classic fantasy novel Feng Shen Bang or The Investiture Of The Gods.
This movie is the second instalment in Beijing Enlight Pictures’ Fengshen Cinematic Universe. The animation comes on the heels of the company’s 2019 animated feature, Ne Zha, which had topped China's box-office chart, grossing more than five billion yuan (S$990 million).
Being the head disciple of Kunlun Sect, Jiang Ziya had led a divine army against King Zhou of the Shang Dynasty and was victorious in the battle for deification.
Neglecting his duties as an emperor, King Zhou of the Shang Dynasty is a tyrant who is known for being mesmerised by his concubine Da Ji. Upon overthrowing King Zhou, Da Ji is revealed to be a nine-tailed fox spirit, destined to bring chaos to mankind. For his victory, Jiang Ziya is given the title “leader of the gods” and is given his final task - executing the fox spirit. At the very last moment, however, Jiang Ziya sees a young girl trapped in the fox spirit and fights to terminate the execution. This results in him losing his title and being banished to Beihai, spurned by all.
Fast forward to ten years later: Jiang Ziya again meets the young girl, Xiao Jiu, who was previously trapped in the fox spirit. Forming an unexpected alliance, the duo set out across vast lands to uncover mysteries that had previously left both stuck in their predicament.
With brilliant use of colours and sounds throughout the movie, the delicate attention paid to the intricate designs of both the characters and the backgrounds made the animation seem a level higher than the usual features we are used to.
The movie also tugged on its audience’s heartstrings by weaving dramatic music with emotional dialogues, especially in parts where Jiang Ziya was harshly told about the aftermath of the Great War. In the barren land where wind chimes made from bones rang, the combination of those sounds with music will make your hairs stand on end, providing the right amount of chilling ominous vibes. The different hues of red used on the nine-tailed fox spirit show the demon’s level of agitation, making it easy for the audience to follow its emotions.
An unexpected scene-stealer in the movie is Four-Alike, a mythical creature that follows Jiang Ziya and takes the form of a flying puppy instead of the usual majestic deer-like animal.
Four-Alike’s cheeky banter with Xiao Jiu, his adorable features, and clinginess to Jiang Ziya serve as a mood lifter throughout the film. It is easy to get attached to the cute sidekick, increasing the emotional factor exponentially whenever he joins in fights.
The animated feature’s use of colours was also a huge plus point for its overall delivery of the story. Resentful souls were characterised as black smokey things, and a blue-white glow is used for appeased souls.
Anticipation for Jiang Ziya: Legend Of Deification surged when it was slated for release in January, on the first day of the Lunar New Year, after four years of production. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, forced the studio to postpone the release of the film. With the gradual opening of cinemas in China, the new release date, nearly nine months after its original date, coincides with China’s National day and the country’s “Golden Week” holidays.
Release date: 1 October 2020 (Singapore)