As a Chinese animated movies inspired by the country’s mythologies, beliefs, and religion, Jiang Ziya: Legend of Deification is an internationally acclaimed film that features a fictional take on the historical Chinese noble who shares the movie’s namesake.
Following Fengshen Cinematic Universe’s Ne Zha, Jiang Ziya is the second installment in the series which depicts an even darker take. The plot is based on the classic novel Investiture of the Gods, which is attributed to Xu Zhonglin and depicts a fictional version of the story of Jiang Ziya as a Taoist who is adept in Chinese folk religion and Taoism.
In the film, celestial army commander Jiang Ziya is tasked to take down a treacherous villain, Nine Tail, who started a war. Although Jiang Ziya succeeds in capturing her, it’s only upon executing her that he will ascend to God statues at Jingxu Hall. However, during the execution ceremony itself, he sees an innocent girl bound within Nine Tail that he refuses to go through with the execution. This gives Nine Tail a chance to escape.
Jiang Ziya is then stripped off his immortality and banished by the Great Revered Master in the moral realm with his Tiger God friend who they sent to watch over him. After ten years, Jiang Ziya crosses paths with a young fox girl that looks exactly like the girl bound to Nine Tail. Although there was conflict between the two when they first met, Jiang Ziya chooses to accompany the youngster on her quest to find her father. On their journey, they unravel secrets about themselves and their capabilities despite being hated and mistreated by mortals and gods alike.
As China is known for its wuxia films, Jiang Ziya did not disappoint. The film offers intoxicating visual animation, making its magic-filled fighting sequences cinematically pleasing to the eye and leaving its audiences at the edge of their seats. The story may seem generic as it’s mostly seen as the stereotypical epic adventure with characters that are the usual archetypes in this film genre.
But if one is well-versed with Chinese mythology and culture, one would learn to appreciate the film. The storyline and the characters give non-Chinese viewers a simple intro to Chinese culture and beliefs as well.
There are numerous details depicted on screen that come from various existing ancient and modern Chinese culture and mythology, and they make up more than 90% of the entire film. From Taoism ideas and mythological creatures to Chinese values and historical events, all these elements contribute to the amazing storytelling of this unforgettable film.
For more Chinese animated movies, check out our review of Netflix’s Over the Moon here.