Wednesday, July 14, 2021

The Wish Dragon Review: A Beautifully Animated Asian Aladdin With A Modern Perspective

Constance Wu	...	Mom (voice) John Cho	John Cho	...	Long (voice) Bobby Lee	Bobby Lee	...	Tall Goon (voice) Natasha Liu Bordizzo	Natasha Liu Bordizzo	...	Li Na (voice) Aaron Yoo	Aaron Yoo	...	Pockets Will Yun Lee	Will Yun Lee	...	Dad (voice) Jimmy Wong	Jimmy Wong	...	Din (voice) Jimmy O. Yang	Jimmy O. Yang	...	Small Goon (voice) Nico Santos	Nico Santos	...	Buckley Max Charles	Max Charles	...	Young Long (voice) Ronny Chieng	Ronny Chieng	...	Pipa God Sumalee Montano	Sumalee Montano	...	Granny Neighbor / Cougar (voice) Ian Chen	Ian Chen	...	Young Din (voice) Malana Lea	Malana Lea	...	Additional Voices (voice) Regina Taufen	Regina Taufen	...	Additional Voices (voice) Willow Geer	Willow Geer	...	Additional Voices (voice) Cathy Cavadini	Cathy Cavadini	...	Additional Voices (voice) (as Catherine Cavadini)

Release date: June 11, 2021
Running time: 113 minutes
Directed By: Chris Appelhans
Written By: Chris Appelhans, Xiaocao Liu (dialogue writer)
Starring: Constance Wu, Bobby Lee, John Cho, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Will Yun Lee, Jimmy Wong, Aaron Yoo, Ronny Chieng, Jimmy O. Yang

In Sony Pictures Animation’s Wish Dragon, Din, a working-class college student with big dreams but small means, and Long, a cynical but all-powerful dragon capable of granting wishes, set off on a hilarious adventure through modern day Shanghai in pursuit of Din's long-lost childhood friend, Lina. Their journey forces them to answer some of life's biggest questions – because when you can wish for anything, you have to decide what really matters.

Kathy Wu	...	Additional Voices (voice) Alexandre Chen	Alexandre Chen	...	Various characters (voice) Elizabeth Pan	Elizabeth Pan	...	Additional Voices (voice) David Arnott	David Arnott	...	Additional Voices (voice) Nora Wyman	Nora Wyman	...	Additional Voices (voice) Will Collyer	Will Collyer	...	Additional Voices (voice) Lee Chen	Lee Chen	...	Additional Voices (voice) (as Lee Chen-Norman) Constance Parng	Constance Parng	...	Additional Voices (voice) Paul Kwo	Paul Kwo	...	Additional Voices (voice) Simon Twu	Simon Twu	...	Additional Voices (voice) James Taku Leung	James Taku Leung	...	Additional Voices (voice) Jeremy Maxwell	Jeremy Maxwell	...	Additional Voices (voice) Victor Chi	Victor Chi	...	Additional Voices (voice) Wilky Lau	Wilky Lau	...	Additional Voices (voice) Alyssa Abiera	Alyssa Abiera	...	Young Li Na (voice) Gabriel Lee	Gabriel Lee	...	Wen Levi Nunez	Levi Nunez	...	Additional Voices (voice)
First, let's get it out of the way.  Wish Dragon is basically Asian Aladdin, but that is not a bad thing.  The movie has a lot of similarities to the earlier film, with a down on his luck boy trying to impress a high society girl and finding a wise cracking all powerful being.  But this film changes the story to embrace an Asian setting and Asian influences.  The film is updated with some modern sensibilities and a dragon that doesn't instantly become friends.  And the movie has several throwbacks to Aladdin, but definitely makes this movie its own.

The film also is a who's who of Asian voice talent, lending authenticity to this bright, stylsih story.  I especially liked Jimmy Wong as Din and Natasha Liu Bordizzo as Li Na.  They have great chemistry in their voices and it really helps you get invested in their plight.  And although John Cho has a tough task as the dragon Long, he does a great job and gives the character personality.  But he also gives the dragon an out of touch sense of disconnection since he has been in a jade teapot for a thousand years.  Seeing him react to the modern world was a lot of fun and added plenty of smiles.  A lot of the early humor is him getting used to this strange new world.  

But what also makes this an enjoyable film is that it teaches some valuable lessons through an entertaining manner.  The film looks at what is important in life, and what people should focus on to make them happy.  It also looks at how those who seem to have it all might still be missing something.  And it does this through some aforementioned great voice work and some stellar animation.  Being set in Shanghai, the film has a bright style with plenty of neon and imaginative areas.  The animation style is perfect for a kid-focused movie, with soft characters and smooth animation.  And this is all accompanied by an entertaining pop music soundtrack.  

Wish Dragon's Asian Aladdin tale has a stellar cast, some beautiful animation, and modern updates that bring this timeless tale into a neon Asian light with a modern perspective.

Watch it.

Chris Bremble	...	producer (p.g.a.) Jackie Chan	...	producer Thomas A. Giovine	...	associate producer Wenxin She	...	co-producer Ian K. Sugarman	...	executive producer (as Ian Sugarman) Joe Tam	...	executive producer How Jiann Teo	...	line producer Ken Tsumura	...	co-producer Aron Warner	...	producer (p.g.a.) Nancy Wu	...	Production Executive - Base Media Sophie Xiao	...	executive producer

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Wish Dragon is available on Netflix on June 11, 2021.

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