Confession time – I enjoyed the 2021 Netflix animated film ‘Nezha Reborn’ more than anybody should have, while two of my housemates looked at me in judgment, bored out of their brains, exacerbated by the fact that I wouldn’t stop streaming the film on Netflix.
Directed by Ji Zhao, ‘Nezha Reborn’ is a remix/rehashed collage of so many films that it can stir up a lot of amused nostalgia for movie-goers. Here are a list of things certain scenes can remind you of –
- The 2004 Bollywood film Dhoom
- The 2010 Hollywood film ‘Despicable Me’
- Mortal Combat the game
- Shaolin Temple (1982 Chinese Film)
- The Karate Kid
- Ramayan (The Hindu Epic)
- The Mask (The cartoon that used to come on Cartoon Network)
- Iron Man
- Spider-man (more specifically, a villain reminded me of Dr Octopus)
- A lot of Bollywood and Chinese films that I saw as a kid
Let’s talk about the plot – it’s about a young man called Li Yunxiang, who has a dubious job and likes to race bikes in his free time, and unknown to him, he is also the reincarnation of a fiery arrogant God called Nezha. As the story progresses, Li Yunxiang finds himself at loggerheads with Nezha’s old foes – the dragon king and his clan. Can Li channel his inner Nezha to defeat enemies and win over his family? That forms the rest of the plot.
The animated characters are pretty to look at, but some of them are drawn so similarly, that as a viewer you could get confused over who is who. There is a Monkey-like character, who is exuberant and seems to have been inspired from the Hindu deity ‘Hanuman’. That character was the most fun to watch – impish, witty, wise; he helps Li in understanding Nezha’s history and powers. Upon further reading, it turned out that the Chinese have a ‘monkey king’ in their mythology too and he is called “Sun Wukong”. According to a site called “Mythopedia”, Sun Wukong was a shape-shifting trickster God with superhuman strength. Sounds exactly like the monkey from the film.
(Picture of the Monkey King Sun. Source: Brooklyn Museum/Public Domain.)
“Nezha Reborn” is peppered with mythology, Nezha himself is a Chinese deity, who is believed to be based on the Hindu deity Krishna, more specifically baby Krishna. In the film, Nezha is said to be powerful, mischievous and destructive child God. But not too much is explained about his origins. And that’s one of the biggest problems with film – the makers try to stuff in a little bit of everything, so nothing gets enough attention. Also, the setting was a bizarre mix of an ancient dynasty and a post-modern world. So while on one hand you had houses and hospitals that looked like they belonged to the 16th century, on the other hand you had 21st century super-bikes zooming past them. While as a viewer one understands it’s a fictional fantasy world, the confusing landscape made the story look silly.
The movie is a little too long, melodramatic and of-course – predictable. Although, kids who like action films might enjoy it. For adults who have already seen a lot of stories in the action genre, it doesn’t work.
It’s a 5/10 from me. Although, if I chose to be biased, I would probably give it a generous 7/10.
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