Run Time: 1 Hour 38 Minutes
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Din and Li Na were the best of childhood friends until one day Li Na’s dad moves her out of the neighborhood. Ten years later, Din is now a college student who dreams of reuniting who’s now famous for her father’s wealth and being a model. While Din tries to get good grades to please his mother he also tries to make some money by delivering food to help him buy clothes to impress Li Na. One day while delivering food Din meets a man who claims to be a god and who gives him a teapot as payment. Later that day Din opens the teapot revealing a magical Wish Dragon that will grant him three wishes. With the help of the dragon named Long, Din hopes to reunite with and impress Li Na.
Wish Dragon features three main characters: Din, Li Na, and Long. Din is from a poor family. Although he is poor, he spends his time delivering dumplings instead of studying. He really cherishes his time with his childhood friend Li Na before she moved. After she moved, Li Na became rich and knew many powerful people. Long is a Wish Dragon who resides within a teapot and grants his master three wishes that do involve time travel, killing someone, or making someone fall in love.
If you guys follow our reviews, you would know that Awake had a strong start and a weak end. Wish Dragon has the opposite effect. It started off weak and ended strong. Because it had a strong ending, it was an enjoyable movie overall.
Anyways, with that out of the way, I want to get the most obvious thing out of the way first. The first half of the movie is very, very similar to Aladdin. From the set up, to the wish system, to the dichotomy between rich and poor, it looks very similar. When I was watching the movie, this was the part that was very boring to me. Aside from a few jokes and some neat references, it was a pretty boring first half.
Now, I can’t have many spoilers here, but the second half was so much better. The story became more unique, and the characters became so much better. Without spoiling, if you can get to this point, it will be worth watching.
Let’s just go over some positives. For one, the characters were very loveable. I liked the background between Din and Li Na, and I enjoyed the interactions with the henchmen. There was something really fun about having some laid back and comedic relief characters in the mix. I also appreciate that the henchmen had their own backgrounds too. It made them fuller characters. Besides the characters, I really enjoyed the references to other forms of media or stories. My favourite reference comes near the end, but due to spoilers, I won’t say here. It was my favourite moment, so if you wanted to read about it, check it out in the spoiler section.
Overall, this movie was a reverse Awake. It had a weak and boring beginning, but the back half picks up with some fun character moments, references, good messages, and even some comedy. If you can separate yourself from all the Aladdin vibes, then this will be a good watch.
Favourite Moment (Spoilers):
My favourite moment was the whole fight scene between Din and the main henchman. I love watching the choreography, and when the henchman got Midas’ Touch, it added another layer to the fighting that made it unique.
Wish Dragon is a movie that starts so bad but gets a lot better. For those of you that have seen Aladdin, you are going to see a ton of similarities. It feels really cheap, unauthentic for the first 45 minutes and I didn’t enjoy it. It was also so, so boring. But if you can survive the deserted wasteland that is the beginning, this is a decent movie.
The plot starts off like an Aladdin spoof, but the “second” plot is a whole lot better. I love the unique spin on the genie and 3 wishes genre. The inclusion of a lot of Chinese lore was awesome and it gave Wish Dragon the identity it so desperately needed. I would have turned the first 45 minutes into like a 15 minute recap and moved on because I just about fell asleep. It’s tough to watch, but the switch that finally turns on is pretty good. It’s entertaining, a lot funnier than I expected, and just a fun watch in general. The pacing picks up a ton in the back half, but I can’t get over the awful start this has.
Our characters follow the same kind of template as the template. Very little development in the opening 45 minutes, and a lot more in the back hour. I thought the characters were overall better than the plot thought, with seemingly more thought put into their arcs and development. Like I said, Wish Dragon is a lot funnier than I expected, but don’t chalk that up to the plot, it’s because of the characters. I thought Long was awesome once he passed the replication of Genie. The close association to Aladdin at the beginning definitely hurts their characters, but I thought the writers did an okay job of repairing and building unique characters.
Honestly, Netflix missed out on back-to-back movies. This starts pretty poorly, and I’m not convinced it’s worth waiting through. The second half is considerably better both plot and character wise, but the animation quality is the only thing that stays at a consistent high throughout. Not a great movie, and probably not worth your time, although younger audiences might love the simplicity of Wish Dragon.
Favourite Moment (Spoilers):
My favourite moment has to be the battle between Din and Pockets on Long’s back. The action is really good, but what I enjoyed more was the detail put into the animation. Flipping between seeing Long and not seeing him was seamless and super impressive!
This movie is an interesting one as it is a movie that starts so uninspired and a rip-off that I didn’t want to finish it but in the back half it pulled itself together and made for an enjoyable ending. Now if you read that summary and thought is this Aladdin you would be correct, at least for the first 45 minutes and it is so similar I thought that Netflix could have a lawsuit on their hands for the nearly identical plots. That first part of the movie was quite scary as I had been looking forward to the film and it was looking like it was going to turn out to be a dud. About 50 minutes in however the film starts to become interesting as the characters’ get to be more than Aladdin rip-offs and the b-storyline becomes more entertaining. Din and Li Na in the second half of the film are charming and quite funny with their relationship growing naturally. The henchmen in the film are funny as well and their scenes were always a highlight even during the front half. The character of Long the dragon is a tough one for me as I am a huge fan of the Genie in Aladdin and his character felt the most like a rip-off and he didn’t land as a character for me through most of the film with his jokes being unfunny and being a less likable Genie that is until they explored his backstory. Long’s backstory and the way his development is shown really made me like the character by the end of the film and kind of made me see him more fondly looking back. The film also succeeds more when it leans into the Chinese culture aspect as it gives it a more unique and distinctive identity. The plot gets a lot better in the second half as well when it is allowed to explore more different character interactions and motivations.
All in all, this is an okay film that ends on a high note. If like me, you’re sitting there at the beginning thinking you would just rather watch Aladdin stick with it. It gets better and more original throughout and by the end, I would say it was a good enough experience for me to recommend it.
Favourite Moment (Spoilers):
My favourite moment is when Long is sent back to the spirit world but pleads with the God to allow him to go back to Earth and help Din. I like this moment because it shows the true growth of Long and how he really has learnt his lesson.