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Ne Zha

It breaks my heart to give Ne Zha a negative review because it’s such a beautifully animated piece of work.  Boredom has never been this beautiful.

Ne Zha starts strong, at least.  Despite the story’s convoluted and convenient factors, writer/director Yang Yu (aka. Jiao Zi, making his feature-length debut with an ambitious epic) has fun playing with different types of combat action, while also utilizing several approaches to comedy.  Audiences are treated to arial feats and slapstick as much as they’re treated to nimble close combat and amusingly calculated setups.  One could make a case that Ne Zha is tonally uneven, but the evidence would be moot considering how unusual the movie is – its inconsistency is its dynamic.  For similar examples, see Stephen Chow’s filmography, although I feel that the Journey to the West filmmaker would frown on Ne Zha’s rude sense of humour.  That’s quite a statement considering how wacky Chow can be.

Ne Zha also appears to have a useful message about judgmental attitudes reflected on the film’s lead (a cursed child, with a resurrected soul, who is feared and hated).  While this message is briefly sustainable, Jiao Zi showcases Ne Zha in too much of a reckless and destructive light for movie goers to care about the supernatural figure.  And because the film can’t figure out how to recover, the director sells his movie out for mindless and violent action sequences that are never-ending. 

The film turns into an assault to the senses but, because the film is so lovely to look at, you don’t notice that Ne Zha is actually pummelling you with tiring fights.  That is until you notice that Jiao Zi hasn’t allowed the audience to catch up, breathe, and recoup.  It’s s shame because the poor filmmaking takes away from the importance that’s fuelling this story – a crucial piece that also elevates and assists the flashy visuals.

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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

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