Like “Ne Zha,” “Jiang Ziya” feels like an epic that can appeal to children but doesn’t lose the adults watching in the process.
|Director(s)||Teng Cheng, Li Wei|
|Screenplay By||Xie Xiying|
|Date Released (Theatrical)||10/1/2020|
|Genre(s)||Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Animation, Non-English|
|Duration||1 Hour, 50 Minutes|
|Jiang Ziya||Zheng Xi|
|Su Daji||Ji Guanlin|
This content contains pertinent spoilers.
Jiang Ziya, after defeating the 9 Tailed Fox, was supposed to ascend to God status at Jingxu Hall. However, when tasked with executing the 9 Tailed Fox, there was an innocent, Jiu, whose spirit was seen within the 9 Tailed Fox. With that, Jiang Ziya couldn’t execute her, and in his hesitation, the 9 Tailed Fox escaped.
For nearly a decade, Jiang Ziya was punished and forced into shame until he admitted that was he saw was an illusion and not an innocent spirit. Yet, be it stubbornness or honor, Jiang Ziya refuses. This makes the discovery of Jiu, no longer captured within the 9 Tailed Fox, but roaming, in search of Mount Youdou, shocking. Yet, it also answers questions Jiang Ziya would have never fathomed the need to ask and reveals truths that nearly dismantle his faith.
Jiang Ziya (Zheng Xi)
A legendary hero who, after questioning the Gods, is denied the ability to descend and rather than renounce his statement, which has clearly angered them, he searches for the truth and proof.
The 9 Tailed Fox, aka Su Daji (Ji Guanlin)
The leader of the Fox Clan who possessed and bound herself to Jiu for power in both the human world and the world of demons and Gods.
Jiu (Yang Ning)
A young woman who was to be the consort of an emperor but ends up possessed and later with no memories of her origins, hence looking for a map to where her fractured memories lead her to.
You Barely Notice The Time Length
Do films really need two hours to tell a story? Many would say yes, I would say the average theater’s chairs aren’t made to accommodate that. However, “Jiang Ziya,” despite pushing two hours, and calling for you to stay and watch two post-credit scenes, doesn’t really make you feel like this is a long movie. Mind you, you’ll recognize there are multiple arcs involved with Jiang Ziya discovering who Jiu is, facing off against Su Daji, and gaining a full understanding of how things work withing Jingxu Hall.
But, despite three major arcs, which almost feel like they could be split into two movies, with a cliffhanger in between, it all fits quite nicely together.
Complexity To The Villain
One of the reasons for this is Su Daji, who we see more in a monstrous form than human, evolves. As the leader of the fox clan, one who possessed Jiu to allow for ascension, you can see the madness, the greed, and selfishness.
Yet, being that Jiang Ziya isn’t a hero with blinders on, who sees only evil and not an entity with flaws and whose behavior is more inspired than out of nowhere, Su Daji is allowed to speak for themselves. And in revealing their original motivation, and their theory on why they were allowed to go so far, it all clicks in place and reminds you that in the grand design of things, there likely are more sacrificial pawns than any other pieces.
Considering there is blood and violence, would I say this is a kid’s movie? Not necessarily. What also may complicate having a kid watch this, especially for parents who don’t like explaining things, is Jiang Ziya’s faith. Like many, his faith created guiding principles, and he holds onto fiercely. Making it so, when pushed to question it, there is a sort of turmoil. Add in the devil of the story allegedly misleading him yet revealing the truth, and it could make some parents uncomfortable.
Yet, Jiang Ziya’s faith and the journey he goes on with that, could be far more interesting to you than his journey with Jiu. For it allows everyone to be seen as evil, selfish, and no one operating for a position of absolute good or evil. Everyone is given a point of view, seen as manipulative, and that creates such a rich complexity that makes it so you understand why Jiang Ziya couldn’t just resign his statement about seeing Jiu within Su Daji.
The Fight Scenes
Like with “Ne Zha,” the art style mixed with high octane and very aggressive combat can leave you a bit awestruck. Mind you, if you watched “Ne Zha” fairly recently, you won’t be completely dumbfounded. But considering how few animated movies are released that feature violence, it makes it so, unless you are out here going to Fathom Events on a regular basis, you’ll be shocked. Especially the opening fight sequence, between Jiang Ziya and Su Daji which sets the tone.
On The Fence
Your Emotional Attachment Might Be Debatable
The only emotional part of Jiang Ziya’s journey is that Jiu’s existence makes him question his faith. As for growing attached to him, Jiu, Jiang Ziya’s pet, or any other character? I’m not saying you won’t, but it just didn’t seem like a priority for you to feel emotionally invested. Rather, it was seemingly about the journey and how you could connect with that than the characters. Which was different.
Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)
If you’re looking for escapism, “Jiang Ziya” gives it to you. Yes, you may not connect with the characters as much as you may expect, but it’s one of the rare animated films that is more about building a story, presenting things to think about, than focusing on characters who can become lucrative merchandise. Hence the positive label.
Ending Explained (Spoilers)
How Does Jiang Ziya End?
With the discovery that Jiu and Su Daji were bound together by the Gods in existence, Jiang Ziya rebels. On top of undoing the binding, he destroys Jingxu Hall. Thus allowing not just Jiu to be reincarnated, but also the souls of the fox clan, who fought under Su Daji, who were damned to a form of limbo. Also, we learn the reason Su Daji even went to war was because she was promised she’d become a deity to do so. However, in the long run, she was just a pawn for what seemingly was the all-male Jingxu Hall council.
Post Credit Scenes
In the post-credit scenes, we see the characters of “Ne Zha” come over for Chinese New Year, and the second post-credit scene features visuals for a movie named “Deep Sea.”
Does Jiang Ziya Have Sequel Potential?
There is a sequel, “Erlang God: Deep Sea Dragon,” which is part of the shared universe “Ne Zha” and “Jiang Ziya” are in. However, likely similar to “Jiang Ziya,” we may see familiar faces in the credits, but they could be utterly absent in the movie itself.