|Starring||Chen Kun, Zhou Xun, William Chan, Qu Chuxiao, Shen Yue|
Welcome to our short review of the Chinese fantasy action movie The Yinyang Master, based on the popular online game Onmyoji.
What’s this movie about?
This movie takes its base from the Chinese online game Onmyoji, which is based on the Japanese novel and short stories of the same name. Worth mentioning there are a few Japanese language movies with the same title made back in 2001 and 2003.
In this movie we follow the theft and recovery of the scale stone from the Yin Yang Bureau.
Half human half monster Qing Ming is accused of stealing the stone after it’s discovered that one of his familiars, a ferret, has swallowed the stone as it attempted to escape capture. The ferret itself accidentally coming across the scale stone and not realising its importance.
At the same time a Palace Guard, Boya, is attempting to find Qing Ming in order to bring him back to the Bureau to prove his innocence. Boya is accused of stealing a tribute of treasures he was delivering through the monster world when he was ambushed by Qing Ming and his ferret familiars.
Troublesome familiars these ferrets.
Also hunting down Boya is his Master, Bai Ni. She has taken on the mission of recovering the scale stone and destroying Qing Ming’s courtyard, a kind of safe house for all his familiars and monsters, who spend their days training for an inevitable war with humans.
Also hunting down Qing Ming is a human called Shen Le, who wants him to take her on as his familiar, seemingly unaware that humans can’t be familiars.
If you’re keeping track, that’s 3 people who are after Qing Ming.
But wait, there are technically 2 more people also after Qing Ming because of the scale stone. One is the Snow Queen, and the other is her Master.
As you could imagine, this story sets up quite a big and exciting final battle with Qing Ming firmly placed in the middle.
Is it Worth Watching?
There is no escaping the fact that this movie does feel like a game, and that mostly comes down to a few things.
First is the liberal, and at times, impressive CGI that is used throughout. It would be almost impossible to find a scene in the movie that doesn’t have some element of CGI in it, and unlike Dream of Eternity, it’s a very different type of CGI.
While the fantasy style elements are still there, such as the spell casting, the CGI is used in this movie is also used to create the monsters and the locations.
And indeed that’s the biggest difference between the two movies, and other than the cast, could be the element that splits the audience into two.
Locations are vibrant, with eye-popping colour used throughout. There is a very clear difference in the colour palettes and grading used between the two films.
Specifically, Qing Ming’s courtyard is a smorgasbord for the eyes, helped indeed by his two human-looking familiars in the Peach Blossom Fairy, who has the ability to turn into a large tree, and the Butterfly fairy, who can command a colourful army of butterflies.
Populating the courtyard is huge variety of monsters ripped straight from the game, but given a bit of an upgrade to fit the movie world. Hitotsume, the one-eyed monk; Nurikabe, Kamaitachi and Umibozu being but some of the monsters that have made the transition from game to movie.
The reimagined monster design is mostly excellent and extremely varied, with generic monsters only really seen in the city of PingJing when Qing Ming is meeting up with Umibozu and Boya gets caught up in a deadly arena game with the Red Imp.
And thankfully, the story is extremely easy to follow, and unlike Dream of Eternity it never labours along or threatens to get bogged down in unneeded complexity, as very briefly occurs in Dream of Eternity.
This movie gets a thumbs UP. (watch the review video above for more explanations of this rating)