By John Liu
Northwest Asia Weekly
“Wish Dragon” is a Chinese-American animated film directed by Chris Appelhans and produced by Jackie Chan. Does seeing Jackie Chan’s production company herald the cool martial arts in the movie? Why yes! When watching a movie, you will immediately notice many similarities with Disney Aladdin.
Wishing Long Long’s voice John Zhao put it best, “You may be thinking, wait a minute.
This sounds like another story about elves and lights that I know. If the story of a boy being granted three wishes sounds familiar to you, it should be. It was originally a Chinese folk story. It tells the story of a farmer boy from eastern China who found a Wishful Abacus and fell in love with a princess. Over the years, there have been many versions of this story, but none of these versions have shrimp crackers. “John was right. It definitely made me crave shrimp crackers in the movie. Anyway, before judging him as an Aladdin imitator, please give the movie a chance.
The movie started in modern Shanghai. Ding met Li Nawang in elementary school, and they soon became friends. In the end, they vowed to be best friends forever with their little fingers.
Unfortunately, Li Na’s father decided to move away with Li Na in order to live a better life. Ten years later, Din (Jimmy Wong) is now a college student and still lives in a small studio with his mother (Constance Wu). He is now a food delivery man, and Li Na has grown into a wealthy supermodel. Ding hopes to reconnect with Li Na, but is worried that she will not remember him.
One day, when Din was delivering food, he met an old man (Ronny Chieng), and he gave Din a teapot. Of course, rubbing the teapot will pop up a dragon, dragon, and he fulfilled the three wishes of his new owner. Since being trapped in the teapot for so long, this dragon is even surprised that the world has changed so much. Dragon has been trapped in the teapot for a thousand years, so he is eager to let Ding fulfill his three wishes so that he can pass through the heaven’s gate of heaven. Another mysterious person also knew about the teapot and hired three thugs to help him retrieve the teapot.
There is a short man (Jimmy O. Yang), a tall man (Bobby Lee) and Pockets (Aaron Yoo), he is the leader of the kick master. I will not spoil the rest of the movie.
The film is packed with celebrities of popular Asian American voice actors. I would like live-action movies, but I believe it is easier to make animations during a pandemic. It’s great to hear Jimmy Wong’s voice as Din again after Hua Mulan’s short cameo. I am a big fan of Jimmy Wong, because he and his brother Freddie Wong were born in Seattle, and his brother Freddie Wong owns a popular YouTube series of rocket jumps. John Cho as a dragon reminds me of Mulan’s Mu Shu. The most important thing is Constance Wu, who tried to get Din to focus on his studies. Through the cast, I can recognize almost all of them, so I am very happy to see this movie before I know the story.
Then there are all Disney Aladdin “references”, but even Aladdin is a version based on the Arabian Nights. You either like it or hate it. At least this movie has enough Chinese culture to stand on its own. As I mentioned before, shrimp crackers appeared several times. Of course, there must be a mandatory food scene. The battle between Din and Pockets is always fun. During the parade, there was a particularly interesting choreographed fight scene that made me laugh so much, but I couldn’t share more because it would ruin the movie! Children will love this movie and it is also a great opportunity for parents to let them learn about Chinese culture. In “Damn” and “Across the Moon”, there have been many choices of Chinese-American animated films in the past two years.
“Wish Dragon” was released in China in January 2021, with a box office revenue of 21 million U.S. dollars. It is currently playing on Netflix.
John can be at [email protected].