Top 5 Chinese Mythology Movies

Top 5 Chinese Mythology Movies

Ne Zha (2019)

Ne Zha (2019)
  • Release Date: 11 July 2019
  • Running time: 1 Hour 50 Minutes
  • Director: Yu Yang
  • Screenplay: Yu Yang
  • Story: Yi Qiao, Wei Yunyun
  • Produced by: Wei Yunyun, Liu Wenzhang
  • Music: Wan Pin Chu

“Ne Zha,” a 2019 Chinese animated fantasy adventure film directed and written by Yu Yang. He takes inspiration from Chinese mythology focusing on the mythological origins of Nezha, a deity in Chinese folk religion. The plot draws from the classic 16th-century novel “Investiture of the Gods” attributed to Xu Zhonglin.

The story is around a Chaos Pearl, born from primordial essences which begins to consume energies voraciously. To contain it Yuanshi Tianzun sends his disciples Taiyi Zhenren and Shen Gongbao, but their efforts fail.

Tianzun splits the pearl into two components: the Spirit Pearl and the Demon Orb. The Spirit Pearl is sent to be reincarnated as Ne Zha, the third son of Li Jing.

Shen plots to steal the Spirit Pearl leading to Ne Zha being born with a demonic nature. Ne Zha learns of his true nature and struggles with his identity. Alongside this Ao Bing, the son of the Dragon King, becomes intertwined in Ne Zha’s story.

Nezha is a key figure in Chinese mythology known as a protection deity in Chinese folk religion. His story has been told and retold in various forms over centuries often depicting him as a brave and rebellious figure with extraordinary abilities.

The film’s plot is based on the classic Ming-dynasty shenmo novel “Investiture of the Gods,” traditionally attributed to Xu Zhonglin. This novel has various Chinese mythology and legends from Chinese mythology including the story of Nezha.

In the film Ne Zha is portrayed as a character struggling with his destiny and identity. He is born with a demonic nature due to the machinations of Shen Gongbao leading to conflict and misunderstandings as he grows up.

Ne Zha’s journey is marked by attempts to defy his predetermined destiny culminating in acts of sacrifice and redemption. These themes show traditional Chinese philosophical concepts such as Daoism and Confucianism.

The characters and events in “Ne Zha” are often with symbolic meaning. For example, Ne Zha’s struggle against his demonic nature can be interpreted as a metaphor for the human struggle against inner turmoil and external adversity, a theme found in many Chinese mythology and legends.

“Ne Zha” was released exclusively in IMAX and China Film Giant Screen theaters in China on July 13, 2019, followed by other theaters on July 26. It became the highest-grossing animated film in China, the worldwide highest-grossing non-U.S. animated film and the second highest-grossing non-English-language film of all time at the time of its release.

The success of “Ne Zha” led to a sequel, “Legend of Deification,” released in 2020. The film’s production involved attention to detail with over 1,318 special effects shots and the collaboration of numerous special effects studios and personnel.

“Ne Zha” saw releases in English-speaking regions, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Ireland.

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White Snake (2019)

White Snake (2019)
  • Release Date: 11 January 2019
  • Running time: 1 Hour 39 Minutes
  • Director: Amp Wong, Zhao Ji
  • Story: Damao
  • Produced by: Gary Wang, Gillian Zhao, Cui Di
  • Music: Guo Haowei
  • Adapted fromLegend of the White Snake

“White Snake” is a 2019 animated fantasy film directed by Amp Wong and Zhao Ji, produced by Light Chaser Animation. Inspired by the Chinese folktale “Legend of the White Snake,” the movie goes into a narrative woven with elements of love, betrayal, and the eternal struggle between humans and demons.

The story is around Blanca (Bai Suzhen), a young white snake-demon who loses her memories while disguised as a human. She falls in love with a snake hunter named Xuan (Xu Xian) much to the dismay of her sister, Verta (Xiaoqing), a green snake-demon.

The film takes viewers on a journey through Chinese mythology, where Blanca, after a failed assassination attempt, finds herself rescued by Xuan and taken to the Snake Catcher village. As she spends time with Xuan, her memories begin to resurface unveiling her true identity as a demon.

The narrative unfolds with the discovery of a magical jade hairpin which triggers further revelations about Blanca’s past and the dangers she faces. As tensions begin between humans and demons, Blanca and Xuan find themselves in a conflict that threatens their love and the balance of power between the two worlds.

The film explores themes of identity, sacrifice, and the enduring power of love. Blanca and Xuan’s relationship is put to the test as they confront obstacles and adversaries including the Dark General and the manipulative Snake Master.

Supported by a talented voice cast and animation, “White Snake” engages audiences with its rich storytelling and visuals. The film’s international acclaim including screenings at prestigious festivals like Annecy and Fantasia.

“White Snake” shows as a fresh interpretation of Chinese mythology drawing on iconic folklore elements while infusing them with contemporary themes and sensibilities. Through its portrayal of demons, magic, and the timeless struggle between good and evil.

With a sequel, “Green Snake,” expanding upon the Chinese mythology established in the first film, “White Snake” continues to enchant audiences and reaffirm its status as a modern animated classic rooted in ancient traditions.

The film draws heavily from the ancient Chinese mythology “Legend of the White Snake” (白蛇传), which dates back centuries and is one of China’s Four Great Folktales. This tale has been retold countless times in various forms of art, literature, and performance throughout Chinese history.

The central characters like Blanca (Bai Suzhen) and Verta (Xiaoqing) are based on the legendary white and green snake spirits respectively. According to folklore, Bai Suzhen is a benevolent spirit who transforms into a beautiful woman and falls in love with a mortal man, Xu Xian.

Their love story is by human prejudice and the intervention of Fahai, a powerful Buddhist monk who seeks to banish the demons.

The film expands upon this traditional tale reimagining the characters and their relationships while staying true to the essence of the original Chinese mythology.

Blanca’s journey of self-discovery, her romance with Xuan and the conflicts between humans and demons shows the timeless themes found in Chinese mythology.

“White Snake” incorporates elements of Daoism, an ancient Chinese mythology, philosophical and religious tradition that addressed harmony with nature, balance, and the pursuit of immortality. The presence of magical artifacts such as the jade hairpin and the mystical wand, shows Daoist beliefs in the power of talismans and enchantments.

The portrayal of demons and spirits in the film is also rooted in Chinese mythology. In traditional Chinese cosmology, demons (魔) are supernatural beings with various powers and intentions often depicted as both malevolent and benevolent forces.

The film incorporates themes of karma, reincarnation, and the cycle of life and death which are fundamental concepts in Chinese religious and philosophical thought. Blanca’s struggle to reconcile her demonic nature with her human emotions shows the existential dilemmas faced by characters in classical Chinese literature and Chinese mythology.

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Creation of the Gods I: Kingdom of Storms (2023)

Creation of the Gods I: Kingdom of Storms (2023)
  • Release Date: 20 July 2023
  • Running time: 2 Hour 28 Minutes
  • Director: Wuershan
  • Written by: Ran Ping, Ran Jianan, Wuershan, Cao Sheng
  • Produced by: Du Yang, Wuershan, William Kong, Barrie M. Osborne
  • Music: Gordy Haab
  • Adapted fromInvestiture of the Gods

“Creation of the Gods I: Kingdom of Storms” is a 2023 Chinese epic fantasy film directed by Wuershan, the first installment in the trilogy adapted from Xu Zhonglin’s 16th-century fantasy novel, “Investiture of the Gods.” The movie released on July 20, 2023, it goes into a fantastical version of the politics following the ascension of the last king of the Shang dynasty.

The plot centers on the rebellion of Lord Su Hu of Jizhou against the Shang dynasty, which is quelled by Prince Yin Shou. King Di Yi is killed during a feast by Crown Prince Qi, who is then accidentally slain by Ji Fa, a hostage-son from Xiqi.

As Shou ascends to the throne, it is revealed that the dynasty is cursed leading him to promise his own ritual suicide to appease the heavens.

The Immortals of Kunlun contemplate entrusting Shao with the Investiture Scroll, a powerful artifact capable of restoring order. Jiang Ziya, a monk and disciple of Yuanshi Tianzun disagrees with this decision due to Shao’s tyrannical nature.

Accompanied by Nezha and Yang Jian, Ziya goes on a journey to deliver the scroll pursued by Shen Gongbao and others.

Ji Chang, the Duke of the West discovers a demonic infant named Lei Zhenzi, whom he sends to Kunlun for safekeeping. The dukes of the other regions secretly question the legitimacy of Shou’s rule, leading to their arrest and execution.

Ji Fa and the Xiqi hostages rebel against Shou, with Ji Fa successfully faking Chang’s death to deceive their enemies. Ji Fa confronts Shou and defeats him ultimately escaping with Ziya and the Investiture Scroll.

Mid-credit scenes tease further developments including the resurgence of the fox spirit, the return of Wen Zhong and his generals and Ziya’s observation of Shen Gongbao’s ominous crows.

The film is based on the “Investiture of the Gods” (封神演义), also known as “Fengshen Yanyi,” a classic Chinese mythology attributed to the Ming dynasty author Xu Zhonglin. This literary masterpiece is steeped in Chinese mythology and is renowned for its intricate plot, dynamic characters, and supernatural elements.

“Creation of the Gods I” features a cast of characters inspired by Chinese mythology. Jiang Ziya, for example is a legendary figure in Chinese folklore known for his mastery of Taoist magic and his role in the founding of the Zhou dynasty.

Nezha and Yang Jian are also key figures in Chinese mythology, with Nezha being a protective deity known for his bravery and martial prowess, while Yang Jian is often depicted as a warrior with magical abilities.

Taoist concepts such as the balance of yin and yang, the pursuit of immortality, and the use of magic and alchemy are woven throughout the narrative.

Chinese mythology is replete with stories of divine beings intervening in the affairs of mortals. In “Creation of the Gods I,” the Immortals of Kunlun play a crucial role in determining the fate of the mortal world by deliberating over the bestowal of the Investiture Scroll.

The film features various supernatural beings including demons and spirits which are integral to Chinese mythology. The fox spirit possessing Su Daji, for instance, is a classic example of a malevolent entity capable of causing mischief and chaos.

The conflict between the Shang dynasty and the rebel forces led by Lord Su Hu mirrors real historical tensions from Chinese mythology while the establishment of the Zhou dynasty at the culmination of the trilogy shows the cyclical nature of dynastic change in Chinese history.

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Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons (2013)

Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons (2013)
  • Release Date: 2 February 2013
  • Running time: 1 Hour 50 Minutes
  • Director: Stephen Chow, Derek Kwok
  • Written by: Stephen Chow, Derek Kwok, Xin Huo, Yun Wang, Fung Chih Chiang, Lu Zheng Yu, Jiro Lee, Ivy Kong
  • Produced by: Stephen Chow, Wang Zhonglei, Zhang Dajun, Ivy Kong
  • Music: Raymond Wong
  • Adaption from: Journey to the West

“Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons” is a 2013 fantasy comedy film co-written and produced by Stephen Chow, which offers a comedic interpretation of the classic Chinese literary masterpiece, “Journey to the West.”

Directed by Chow and Derek Kwok, the film introduces the epic journey of Tang Sanzang before he acquires his legendary disciples.

The plot unfolds in a riverside village plagued by a mysterious aquatic creature initially mistaken for a demon and slain by a Taoist priest. Sanzang, a self-proclaimed demon hunter warns the villagers of the true demon’s presence.

Sanzang faces hostility but eventually leads the survivors in confronting the actual demon who transforms from a giant manta ray into a man. Employing an unorthodox method of using nursery rhymes to pacify demons, Sanzang clashes with Duan, a more aggressive demon hunter.

Sanzang encounters various demons including the deceptive pig demon Zhu Bajie and the Monkey King, Sun Wukong, confined by Buddha’s decree.

Duan orchestrates a scheme to manipulate Sanzang emotionally, leading to conflict and tragic consequences. Sanzang’s journey toward enlightenment deepens, culminating in a confrontation with the powerful Monkey King and a realization of Duan’s true intentions.

The film has elements of Chinese mythology and folklore, drawing upon iconic characters from “Journey to the West,” such as the Monkey King, Zhu Bajie, and Sha Wujing.

The film draws its inspiration from the 16th-century novel “Journey to the West” by Wu Cheng’en. This epic tale follows the pilgrimage of Tang Sanzang, a Buddhist monk, accompanied by three disciples, the Monkey King, Zhu Bajie (Pigsy), and Sha Wujing, as they journey to retrieve sacred scriptures from India.

The film features several iconic characters from “Journey to the West.” Tang Sanzang, portrayed as a self-proclaimed demon hunter.

Duan, a skilled demon hunter, represents the more pragmatic and aggressive approach to combating demons. The appearance of Zhu Bajie, the pig demon, and Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, adds to the narrative.

Central to Chinese mythology is the concept of demons, spirits, and supernatural beings. “Conquering the Demons.” Each encounter with a demon presents a test of Sanzang’s compassion and spiritual growth.

Sanzang’s journey is not a physical pilgrimage but a quest for spiritual awakening and self-discovery. Through his encounters with demons and trials, Sanzang learns the importance of compassion, forgiveness, and inner strength, showing the teachings of Buddhism.

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The Monkey King (2023)

The Monkey King (2023)
  • Release Date: 30 July 2023
  • Running time: 1 Hour 36 Minutes
  • Director: Anthony Stacchi
  • Screenplay: Steve Bencich, Ron J. Friedman, Rita Hsiao
  • Produced by: Peilin Chou
  • Music: Toby Chu
  • Adapted from: First 7 Chapters of the Classic Ming dynasty Novel

“The Monkey King” is a 2023 animated fantasy action comedy film that draws its inspiration from Chinese mythology particularly the classic Ming dynasty novel “Journey to the West.”

Directed by Anthony Stacchi and featuring a screenplay by Rita Hsiao, Steve Bencich, and Ron J. Friedman, the film goes into the early adventures of the character, a mischievous and powerful monkey born from a stone atop a mountain.

The story begins with the birth of the Monkey King who disrupts the peace of the heavens prompting the Jade Emperor to order his elimination. Monkey goes on a journey to prove his worth, becoming the self-proclaimed King of the Monkeys after defeating a feared demon and rescuing a cub.

Monkey encounters various challenges including battles with demons and gods as well as his own inner turmoil. Along the way he is joined by Lin, a determined young girl who becomes his loyal companion despite his condescension towards her.

Together they face the schemes of the Dragon King, the temptations of immortality, and the consequences of their actions.

The voice cast includes Jimmy O. Yang as Monkey King, Jolie Hoang-Rappaport as Lin, Bowen Yang as the Dragon King, and BD Wong as Buddha, among others. The film’s animation faced setbacks, with production moving from Reel FX to Tangent Animation before returning to Reel FX’s facilities in Montreal.

Released on Netflix on August 18, 2023 “The Monkey King” received acclaim for its stunning animation, engaging story, and homage to Chinese mythology. It premiered at the 22nd New York Asian Film Festival and had a preview at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival.

This epic novel written in the 16th century is one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature and is based on the Chinese mythology of the Buddhist monk Xuanzang to India in search of sacred scriptures.

The protagonist Sun Wukong known as the Monkey King, is a central figure in “Journey to the West.” He is a clever and mischievous monkey who gains extraordinary powers through Taoist practices and becomes a force in the heavens.

In “The Monkey King” film the narrative focuses on the early adventures of Sun Wukong from his birth atop a mountain to his rise as the King of the Monkeys. This narrative arc closely follows the first seven chapters of “Journey to the West.”

The film incorporates elements of Chinese mythology and folklore such as the presence of deities like Buddha and the Dragon King as well as mythical creatures like the sea kingdom of the Dragon King and the underworld ruled by King Yama.

The character of Lin, a young girl who becomes Monkey’s companion, a new addition to the traditional narrative. Through her journey alongside Monkey shows loyalty, redemption, and the power of friendship, showing timeless motifs found in Chinese mythology.

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