Australian Council on Children and the Media

Ne Zha

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Not recommended under 10, parental guidance to 13 (Violence, language, scary scenes, scenes of emotional distress)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Ne Zha
  • a review of Ne Zha completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 4 September 2019.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Not recommended due to violence, language and scary scenes
Children aged 10–13 Parental guidance recommended due to violence, language, scary scenes and displays of emotional distress and anguish
Children over the age of 13 Ok for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Ne Zha
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild fantasy themes, animated violence, coarse language.
Length 110 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Loosely based on a well-known myth from Chinese folk religion, this Chinese animated movie tells the story of Ne Zha (voice of Yanting Lü), the son of military commander Li Jing (voiced by Hao Chen) and his wife Lady Yin (voiced by Qi Lu). In order to prevent chaos from taking over the universe the King of Heaven has split the ‘Chaos Pearl’ into two parts, the ‘Spirit Pearl’, and the ‘Demon Pearl’. The guardian Taiyi (voiced by Jiaming Zhang) has been sworn to watch over the pearls. The plan is for the spirit pearl to be linked to the birth of Commander Li’s child when he is born and that the demon pearl will be guarded for three years until such time as the prophecy will be fulfilled and it will be destroyed by lightning. Unfortunately, the jealous Shen Gongbao (voiced by Wei Yang,) who was hoping for a promotion from the King of Heaven, sabotages this plan, stealing the spirit pearl and ensuring the demon pearl is connected to the child instead. Ne Zha is born as a demon child and the villagers are terrified of him. Seeing the good in him, Ne Zha’s mother begs the villagers to spare his life and his father promises to protect them from the child, keeping him locked away and journeying to the Kingdom of Heaven in the hopes of breaking the curse. Ne Zha’s mother devotes herself to trying to make his time as happy as possible but she is often called away to duty and Ne Zha is left to his own devices, which often involves escaping his home and terrifying the villagers. Meanwhile Shen Gongbao has taken the spirit pearl to the dragons that are chained in a watery prison. Here the spirit pearl is linked to a dragon egg which becomes the character Ao Bing (voiced by Mo Han) who Shen Gongbao hopes will free the dragons to rule once and for all. When Ne Zha and Ao Bing meet an unlikely friendship is formed, the outcome of which surprises them all.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Good vs evil, the role of destiny, disobedience to parents, disrespect of authority, loneliness, fate and curses, demons, destruction, ostracism, emotional distress.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • The film contains frequent animated violence: characters punching, kicking, attacking, martial arts, throwing, falling through roofs, rocks falling on heads, falling out of trees, crushed into walls, flung through the air, set on fire, stabbed, petrified, restrained against their will, dodging knives and spears, a man is smacked with a mallet, one character is repeatedly punched in the stomach until he vomits.
  • Ne Zha punches his mother into a wall accidentally and then continues to do the same thing to two guards.
  • Ne Zha creates all kinds of damage any time he is near the village, destroying it with either fire or water or just damaging things on his way through.
  • Ne Zha hits a man for calling him a demon, a lady smacks him with a shovel and Ne Zha begins to attack all the villagers.
  • Ne Zha kicks a tray of food which hits a servant in the face.
  • Ne Zha battles Aobing and nearly stabs and kills his father.
  • Characters get hurt but there is no display of death or blood.
  • Violence is not glorified, on the contrary: Ne Zha's parents and his heavenly teacher try all they can to stop him from being violent and to bring out the good in him.
  • Ne Zha's violent behaviour is mischievous: he likes to prank and scare people; at the same time he suffers the consequences of his behaviour: he has no friends and gets upset when he is called "Demon"
  • A lot of the violence is within the context of the fight between "Good" and "Evil"
  • Ne Zha is seen trying to fight his fate of being evil and violent, and is ready to sacrifice his life to save his loved ones.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • An angry monster, made of sharp glass-like shards, seems to be sucking the energy from Taiyi. They battle and Taiyi is punched repeatedly in the face which is then swollen and bleeding. The visual effects of the monster could frighten young viewers.
  • When Ne Zha is born he is clearly a demon child. He appears to be only a head but blasts through people causing chaos and then his head catches fire before he grows a body. He has creepy blank eyes, shoots firebombs and everyone in the village is terrified. The disturbing visual images are likely to frighten younger viewers.
  • Ne Zha has a creepy, menacing face especially when he transforms into the demon. His eyes go blank and he looks evil.
  • The underwater purgatory where the dragons are chained is a dark and creepy place. Numerous evil looking dragon heads appear out of the darkness at different times and could easily frighten young children.
  • There are a lot of loud noises, explosions, physical fights including a variety of weapons, screaming, and crying
  • Ne Zha's mother is shown in agonising labour pain
  • Characters frequently change their appearance and transform into other figures including scary-looking demons
  • Characters are displayed being hurt, scared, threatened, and upset
  • Characters are threatened to be killed and believed to be dead
  • Characters become possessed with evil spirits
  • There are mystical and mostly scary fantasy characters like gods, spirits, demons, monsters, and dragons
  • Parents fear for their child's life
  • Ne Zha is displayed angry and sad a lot of the time
  • Ne Zha is feared and disliked by the majority of people
  • Ne Zha as well as another main character do not survive, even though their souls stay unharmed.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • A gross Sea Yaksha kidnaps a cute little girl from the village and eats her before Ne Zha makes him spew her out.
  • Ne Zha appears to be dead. Taiyi fishes him out of a pond and is performing CPR when Ne Zha’s stomach explodes and Taiyi is covered in pieces of a poisonous frog. Taiyi then swells up while Ne Zha laughs at him and later sets his pants on fire.
  • Aobing, at the bidding of the dragons, and Shengongbao create an ice canopy that threatens to destroy the village. Ne Zha tries to save the villagers but large chunks of ice are falling, threatening to crush and kill people. The scene is intense with loud music and suspenseful fighting and may frighten young children.
  • When Ne Zha transforms into the demon everyone fears him to be, his eyes glass over and he tries to kill his parents. He is stopped just in time. Many young viewers may find this disturbing.
  • Both Ne Zha and Aobing are killed by a lightning bolt. Ne Zha’s parents are devastated and are searching for his body in a crater left by the blast. Ultimately, they find his spirit inside the chaos pearl and realize that he did not survive. They are both devastated.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Children in this age group may be disturbed or scared by the above-mentioned scenes, particularly if they are sensitive to scary concepts like demons and evil spirits, and have experienced trauma, separation from parents, or ostracism/bullying. Parental guidance is therefore recommended for this age group.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

It is unlikely that children over the age of thirteen will be frightened by this movie.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • No product placement was noted in this movie.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • A woman is displayed in painful labour

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Taiyi wears a robe that is often open to expose his bare chest.
  • Ne Zha occasionally walks around with his hands in his pants.
  • Ne Zha takes off his pants and pees on a rock. Nothing explicit is seen.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Taiyi has a reputation for liking to drink and Shengongbao gets him drunk by leaving a huge container of wine near him on the eve of Ne Zha’s birth.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • "Bull crap"
  • "Bastard"
  • "Idiot"
  • "Crapper"
  • "Moron"
  • "Son of a"
  • “Brat”
  • “Rascal”
  • “Go to hell”
  • “The hell we can’t”
  • “Demon”
  • “Dumb”
  • “Screw you”
  • “Go to hell demon!”

In a nutshell

Ne Zha is a dazzling, fast paced, visual spectacle featuring world-class animation and a gripping soundtrack. The story is captivating and inspiring and contains valuable underlying messages and positive role models. In Mandarin with English subtitles, the movie will appeal to fans of Chinese legends and older audiences who can read fast and follow along.

The main messages from this movie are that you make your own destiny, that you shouldn’t do bad things simply for your own advancement and that misunderstandings, if left unchecked, can easily spiral out of control.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Compassion
  • Communication
  • Kindness
  • Understanding
  • Hope
  • Everyone is the master of his or her own fate
  • Parents' unconditional love for their children
  • Family cohesion and loyalty
  • Everyone has positive potential that needs to be fostered
  • Self-determination
  • Resilience
  • The importance and value of friendships
  • Sacrifices
  • Forgiveness

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as.

  • The importance of listening to parents or people in authority and the consequences of what can happen when this does not occur.
  • The importance of honesty and open communication even when the subject is difficult.
  • Bullying, ostracising, the lack of tolerance and understanding and hurtful behaviours arising from differences.
  • Making quick assumptions and jumping to conclusions about others without knowing facts.
  • Bad, violent behaviour and using violence as a means to solve problems.
  • Excessive drinking and selfish actions for personal gain.
  • Selfishness, greed, and envy

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