Ever since the announcement of these two films, there's been quite some confusion amongst fans of the franchise. That's completely understandable, given the similarities between their titles and content. The first is named The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity, released in 2020. The second is simply titled The Yin Yang Master, released on the first day of the Lunar New Year in 2021. If you've been wondering about the differences and similarities between the two films, or maybe you just want some help on deciding which to watch, worry not because I've got you covered.
Directed by none other than Guo Jingming, The Ying-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity is a film adapted from the popular epic fantasy novel series Onmyōji (陰陽師), written by Japanese author Baku Yumemakura. The novel series follows the trials and tribulations of a man who has mastered onmyōdō, a traditional Japanese cosmology. The film follows the story of Qingming, one of the masters of yin-yang. He travels to the Imperial City to meet up with the rest of the yin-yang masters from each sect after a malevolent serpent demon born from the desires of humans centuries ago has reemerged after a lengthy absence. Along with the serpent, the threat of evil rises with the appearance of new demons around Imperial City. The masters' ultimate goal is to combine forces and push the snake back to where it emerged from. However, they do not all see eye-to-eye when it comes to their views on demons, and begin to suspect each other of foul play after a failed assassination attempt on the Empress of Imperial City by an unknown perpetrator and a likely plot to murder the Princess. Qingming must draw on the teachings of his late mentor if he is to unite the masters and himself learn how to cooperate with his allies despite their differing views. Will he make it in time to stop the looming darkness of the serpent and uncover the corruption taking place in the imperial court?
Unfortunately, the film was pulled from box offices after director Guo Jingming was accused of plagiarising some of its content (even drawing comparisons to Marvel's Dr. Strange), something that has dogged Guo since the start of his career as a writer and filmmaker. Fret not however, as the film was picked up by Netflix at the start of 2021, meaning you can stream it from the comfort of your home right now. Incredible special effects and cinematography make The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity a joy to watch. It really takes Chinese fantasy cinema to a new level.
On the other end of the spectrum, The Ying Yang Master is based on the hit (200 million+ downloads) turn-based RPG mobile game developed by NetEase Gamea, Onmyoji, which also takes inspiration from Baku Yumemakura's novel series. Directed by Li Weiran, the film is set in a world on the verge of doom, as demons begin appearing to retrieve the fabled Scaling Stone. With his life now in danger, the yin-yang master Qingming's life is in danger and he must travel throughout different worlds to prepare for the oncoming battles. Along the way, Qingming learns that he must come to accept and embrace his hybrid identity; that human and demon. At the same time, the captain of the City Guard Yuan Boya is stripped of his rank after the imperial tribute he was guarding is stolen. Unwilling to let things lie, he searches for the thieves, only to end up entering a mystical world of demons where he meet Qingming. The two combine their skills and form an unbreakable bond on the path to righteousness.
The film is a special-effects masterclass. It features 2,833 visual effects shots, 702 digital characters, and 63 full-CGI shots. Netflix has also acquired global streaming rights to the film. Although it has yet to announce a streaming release date for the film, it opened theatrically in China last Friday, having already sold over $3 million worth of advanced tickets.