Wish Dragon

image for Wish Dragon

Short takes

Not suitable for children under 8 and Parental Guidance to 12 (animated violence, themes of death, scary scenes).

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Wish Dragon
  • a review of Wish Dragon completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 7 October 2021.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not suitable due to animated violence, themes of death, and frightening scenes.
Children aged 8-12 Not suitable due to animated violence, themes of death, and frightening scenes.
Children over the age of 12 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: Wish Dragon
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes, mild violence, scary scenes
Length: 99 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Din (voiced by Jimmy Wong) and Li Na (voiced by Natasha Liu Bordizzo) are childhood best friends, finding magic and joy in each other’s company in their working-class Chinese village.  But when Li Na’s hardworking (but rarely around) father (voiced by Will Yun Lee) packs them up and moves them to the city for a better life, Din is left with only memories of the friendship they had vowed would last forever.  Ten years later, Din is now a college student, still living with his mother (voiced by Constance Wu) in the same village of his childhood, while Li Na has become a famous model.  Dreaming of seeing his friend again, Din makes a plan to skip class and work as a delivery driver to save up enough money to purchase a suit and sneak into Li Na’s upcoming 19th birthday party - a very exclusive event.  However, when a delivery order brings him face to face with an old man who claims to be a god (voiced by Ronny Chieng), Din finds himself exchanging the dumpling order for a strange jade teapot.  Din discovers a Wish Dragon by the name of Long (voiced by John Cho) within the teapot, who will grant him three wishes before being freed to return to the spirit world.  Whilst he is helping Long to better understand the importance of friendship over power and gold, Din is hunted by three gangsters, led by ‘Pockets’ (voiced by Aaron Yoo), who have been hired by a mysterious figure to obtain the teapot, by any means necessary.  Din must battle the gangsters, reconnect with his friend, and help Long learn the meaning of life, all with only three wishes and his kind heart. 

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.

Death of a parent; Friendship; Class and social divides

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:

  • Child Li Na throws a dumpling at the head of a bully who is being mean to Din - this is comedic and depicted as justified in the film.
  • Din’s mother hits him with a rolled up newspaper on several occasions as punishment - this is comedic but genuine from his mother.
  • The three gangsters engage in hand-to-hand combat with Din and other characters - in particular, they kick and punch using martial arts, clearly hurting other characters.
  • Din uses a wish to learn Kung Fu, using this new skill to beat up the gangsters - these fight sequences depict Din as heroic for beating the bad guys.
  • The gangsters attack Din and Li Na with knives - nobody is hurt.
  • Li Na’s father is pushed from high scaffolding and falls to his death - this is an emotional scene as he dies in Li Na’s arms. Long eventually brings him back to life.

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:

  • The lead gangster is visually menacing and physically attacks other characters - sequences with this character are likely to frighten younger children.
  • The lead gangster wishes for the power to turn anything he touches gold - he accidentally turns Long and then himself gold, killing both characters. Long eventually returns to life.

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:

  • Li Na’s father falls to his death and dies in the arms of his daughter - he is later brought back to life by Long, but the death scene will likely distress some viewers.
  • Li Na’s father is never available because he is always at work - she finds this upsetting as she feels abandoned by him - this may distress some viewers.

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:

  • Din is beaten up by the gangsters and is dragged behind a car - he is not seriously injured, but these sequences may distress older children due to the power difference.

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.

  • Nothing further noted of concern for this age group.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Smartphones
  • Jaguar cars

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Long flirts with a woman while in human form and his tail accidentally smacks her bottom - she takes this as an invitation for further flirting and chases him around a building

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

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

  • Adult characters are seen drinking alcohol.
  • Long drinks multiple cocktails while in human form before becoming drunk - he doesn’t act drunk, but his dragon features start to return.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Stupid
  • Jerk
  • Son of a cabbage farmer

In a nutshell

Wish Dragon is an animated movie set in China with a similar plot to Aladdin, but with stronger themes of friendship, sacrifice, and kindness.  With bright and fun characters, exciting action sequences, and magic, this film will likely entertain older children. This film is not suitable for children under 8 and parental guidance is recommended for children under 12, due to animated action violence, themes of death and loss, and frightening scenes.

The main message from this movie is that friendship is more important than money or power.

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

  • Being yourself when trying to make friends.
  • Telling the truth and asking for support from family and friends during difficult times.

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

  • Din drives his delivery scooter without a helmet and in a reckless fashion - this is risky and could cause him injury or death.
  • The consequences of body talk - Li Na is disparaged as being too skinny and having a flat nose.