Boy and dragon in Wish Dragon

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Kristin Smith

Movie Review

Din and Li Na used to be inseparable. In elementary school, they made a promise to one another: to be best friends forever. But things changed when Li Na and her father moved away.

Now, in college, Din still lives in his poor neighborhood with his single, hard-working mother who pushes Din to study diligently to make a better future for himself.

And Li Na? Well, Li Na is a successful entrepreneur who barely knows her wealthy father and most certainly doesn’t remember Din. It seems that the only thing she does know is an empty life, filled with disappointment.

But Din knows none of this. In fact, he’s convinced that if he can get to Li Na’s 19th birthday party extravaganza that they will be able to reunite and pick up where they left off, years ago and that Li Na will remember him in the same fond way he remembers her, The only problem is that Din has no real way of getting into this uber-exclusive celebration.

That is, until Din delivers food to an elderly man who leaves him with a magical teapot. And inside this pot lives a magical dragon by the name of Long. Turns out, Long can grant Din three wishes. And once he does, Long will finally be freed from his potted prison. Most people just wish for power, fame and fortune. But Din isn’t interested in any of that. Din only wants to reconnect with his most cherished friend. But that connection will prove to be the greatest challenge of his life as Din wrestles with his three wishes and fights off villains who know the secret power the teapot holds.

Positive Elements

Din’s mom is kind and compassionate, and she works hard to financially and emotionally provide for Din’s needs. Although they are poor, Din’s mother pushes Din to work hard to create a better future for himself. She also strictly enforces respect for herself and others.

Both Din and Li Na are respectable, hardworking, intelligent and passionate individuals. They both have a desire to make their parents proud and to bring honor to their families by doing so.

Din is chosen to be the recipient of three magical wishes because he is “pure of heart.” (Or so says the apparent old man who gives him the magical teapot.)

At first, Din feels that he will never measure up to Li Na or be worthy of her friendship, but he begins to understand that worth does not come from power or material possessions. Instead, true worth is found in deep friendships and selflessness.

Lin’s father ignores her and pursues wealth for most of his life, Although his heart’s goal is to give his daughter a prosperous future, he forgets what matters most for much of the movie. But he eventually apologizes for everything and recognizes that his daughter was always more valuable than riches.

Viewers will learn that friends and family are worth more than gold, and that learning to be selfless, to put others needs first, is the true meaning of life.

Spiritual Elements

The elderly man whom Din delivers food to calls himself “a god.” He gives Din a teapot where Long has been trapped for 1,000 years.

Long tells Din that he was put inside the teapot because when he arrived in “the spirit world,” he had not yet learned the meaning of life. So Long was sent back to earth, in magical dragon form, until he could learn the meaning of life by serving ten masters. Only then would he be able to be set free.

Long doesn’t understand the technological world he’s entered and calls a cell phone “dark magic.”

Sexual Content

A crazed, elderly man wears a tank top and boxers. Din and Li Na hold hands. A woman makes a pass at Long, kissing him after his tail accidentally hits her rear.

A woman approaches Li Na to talk about representing her latest product, an inflatable bra. Long tells Din that a certain authoritarian move worked “on all 17 of my wives.”

Violent Content

The most violence we see here comes in the form of martial arts, as Din wishes to be able to defend himself and often goes toe-to-toe with a villainous martial arts master. Punches, kicks and other stunts are common. As are bruises as bandages.

A man falls to his death but is later brought to life. Long shares that his son was killed in battle. Long comments that he would have had a disrespectful woman executed in his past.

Crude or Profane Language

The word used most here is “stupid” and, usually, it’s in reference to situations or inanimate objects.

A man calls a teen boy a “twerp” and says, “shut up.” Other names include “dirt bags” and “jerk.” Someone is called a “son of a cabbage farmer.”

Drug and Alcohol Content

A few people drink martinis at a birthday party. Din acts irrational in one scene and his mother asks him if he’s been “drinking alcohol” or if he’s “drugged out,” to which he truthfully responds that he is not.

Other Negative Elements

Din skips class and lies to his mother and is sometimes disrespectful. Nosy neighbors interfere on Din’s life and gossip.

Long steals money, gives it to Din and calls it magic. A mean boy in Din’s elementary class sticks his tongue out at Din and tells him that his mom forgot about him. Long drinks toilet water but doesn’t realize the issue until he sees someone urinate in the toilet.

Conclusion

Originally released in China earlier this year, Wish Dragon is now hitting Netflix in June of 2021. This computer-animated film is full of fantasy, comedy and heartfelt lessons.

Some Chinese mythology runs throughout the film, mostly dealing with the spirit world. We also hear a bit of name calling and see some perilous scenes paired with martial arts. And obviously, a bit of magic is on tap.

But the real magic of this movie lies in its lessons. Viewers learn, with both tears and laughs, that friendship and family matter more than any material possession or treasure. And although you may possess all the power in the world, you will never understand the true meaning of life without laying down your life for others.

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Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).