New Gods: Yang Jian (Blu-ray Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Story
The Animation
The Video
The Audio
The Dub
The Supplements
Overall

SUMMARY

Once-powerful god Yang Jian, now working as a bounty hunter, is hired by a beautiful woman to locate and stop someone who has stolen a powerful magic lamp.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

New Gods: Yang Jian is a Chinese 3D animated feature film that serves as a prequel to the 2021 film New Gods: Nezha Reborn. The story is based on the character of Yang Jian from the Ming dynasty novel Investiture of the Gods.

Set 1500 years after the war of gods and the decline of heaven, wherein many of the gods have lost much of their power and their natural ability to fly, Yang Jian, the God of Erlang (voiced in by Nicholas Andrew Louie in the English version), has been making a living as a bounty hunter. The once powerful god has lost his third eye vision and powerful sword after a battle with his sister in which he buried her under a mountain. Now, seven years after that battle, a beautiful woman, Wanluo (voiced by Christine Lin in the English version), approaches him, and hires him to find Chenxiang (voiced by Luke Naphat in the English version) to stop him from using a powerful, magical lantern. The twist is Chenxiang turns out to be Yang Jian’s own nephew.

This sprawling, over-two-hour-long epic is filled with fantastic visuals and astonishing action sequences. The jazz-inflected score helps to drive the often offbeat and quirky comedic elements of the film, how Cowboy Bebop used jazz to its advantage in the same way. The direction keeps the film flowing, but the plot is a bit convoluted and difficult to follow, with far too many subplots. Is it necessary to have seen the original film to follow this one better (I have not seen New Gods: Nezha Reborn)? There is the overall setup about the gods losing their powers, the “cosmic gas” they all covet to allow them to fly, there is the subplot about Yang Jian’s master and fellow student, the mystery surrounding Wanluo, the people after Yang Jian, the story of the battle between Yanj Jian and his sister, the story of the stolen lantern, and the pursuit of Yang Jian’s nephew Chenxiang. This becomes a bit much, but it is always gorgeous to watch.

Where the film really falls over itself is with a lot of the extrapolation, but it picks up with the incredible, fantastical action sequences that rival the best of Pixar and DreamWorks.

  • New Gods: Yang Jian (2022)
  • New Gods: Yang Jian (2022)
  • New Gods: Yang Jian Blu-ray Combo (Shout! Factory)
  • New Gods: Yang Jian Blu-ray Combo (Shout! Factory)

The Video

This 3DCG animated feature arrives in a 2.39:1 AVC 1080p encodement on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory. There is not much to criticize other than some digital anomalies that are likely in the digital source, such as some mild aliasing in some spots and some noise around beards in dark scenes. Otherwise, New Gods: Yang Jian looks detailed and full of vibrant, eye-catching colors.

The Audio

The original Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (and English dub in the same format) is a reference showpiece. There is resonant low-end extending well into the lowest registers, lots of activity panned through the surrounds, and wide dynamic range. The dialogue comes through clearly for both language tracks.

The Supplements

The interviews with the cast and director, the Arts and Culture spotlight that looks at the mythology, and the included Poster are wonderful bonus features.

  • Interview with Director Zhao Ji (1080p; 00:15:38)
  • Animating New Gods: Yang Jian (1080p; 00:06:17)
  • Original Cast Interview (1080p; 00:16:24)
  • Arts and Culture Spotlight (1080p; 00:13:04)
  • Art Gallery (1080p)
  • Poster
  • DVD

The Final Assessment

A stunning fantasy that is a visual delight and hits the mark on Blu-ray. The culmination of a decade or more of China’s investment in their animation industry is starting to pay major dividends with delightful, epic animated features in advanced 3DCG like this. Recommended.


New Gods: Yang Jian is out on Blu-ray Combo April 25, 2023 from Shout! Factory.


  • Rating Certificate: NR
  • Animation Studios: Light Chaser Animation Studios | Bilibili
  • Distributors: Taopiaopiao | Bona Film Group | Bilibili | GKIDS | Shout! Factory
  • Director: Zhao Ji
  • Written By: Mu Chuan
  • Run Time: 128 Mins.
  • Street Date: 25 April 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: Mandarin DTS-HD MA 5.1
  • Secondary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH | English for Original Language Version | Spanish for Original Language Version
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Once-powerful god Yang Jian, now working as a bounty hunter, is hired by a beautiful woman to locate and stop someone who has stolen a powerful magic lamp. New Gods: Yang Jian (Blu-ray Review)