Wish Dragon is a 2021 Chinese-American computer-animated fantasy comedy film written and directed by Chris Appelhans. Produced by Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Animation, Beijing Sparkle Roll Media Corporation, Tencent Pictures, Base FX, Flagship Entertainment Group and Boss Collaboration and Cultural Investment Holdings. The film stars Jimmy Wong, John Cho, Constance Wu, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Jimmy O. Yang, Aaron Yoo, Will Yun Lee, and Ronny Chieng. Jackie Chan produced the film and voiced Cho's role in the Chinese Mandarin version. The characters were voiced in both Chinese and English releases of the film.
Din is a working-class college student in Shanghai who dreams of reuniting with his childhood friend Li Na, who moved away ten years ago from their neighborhood with her father, Mr. Wang, and now lives a lavish life. One day, Din is given a teapot by an elderly man, from which emerges Long, a wish dragon. Long informs Din he will grant three wishes to his master, i.e. whoever holds the teapot. Din will be Long's tenth and final master and will free Long from his servitude, allowing him to enter the Spirit world. Subsequently, Din is chased by a trio of goons led by a man named Pockets, sent by Mr. Wang to recover the teapot in hopes of saving his failing business. Din uses his first wish to fight the goons and escape.
The next day, Din and Long arrive at Li Na's birthday party. Din makes his second wish—to temporarily appear as a wealthy princeling for one day, hoping Li Na will notice him and rekindle their friendship. Li Na is disappointed when she realizes her father will not be attending her party. Din, sticking to his disguise as 'Dan', comforts her and they are asked by Mr. Wang (via a video call) to share a meal together. Long warns Din that Li Na will leave him as soon as she finds out his identity, because of their different socioeconomic status.
During the date, Din asks Long for advice on how to act accordingly to his new status, but ends up upsetting Li Na in the process. They both end up in Din's neighborhood after the goons pursue Din again. Din reveals himself to Li Na, and they spend the rest of the day in the neighborhood reliving their childhood pastimes. However, Li Na finally retreats claiming that she has responsibilities and expectations she needs to meet, hurting Din's feelings. Later that night, Din angrily asks Long to make him rich in a last-ditch effort to be respected. Long reveals to Din that in life he was a wealthy and powerful lord whose reign ended in loneliness and tragedy and was punished to become a wish dragon. Long's servitude as a wish dragon is meant to make him appreciate the meaning of life, something he has failed to accomplish with all of his previous masters.
After tracking down Din, Pockets betrays Mr. Wang by taking the teapot for himself and asks the wish dragon for his first wish to turn everything he touches to gold. He drops Mr. Wang from a large scaffolding, mortally wounding him in front of Li Na. Din chases the goons, and eventually ends up fighting Pockets on Long's back. Pockets corners Din and prepares to hit him with his golden hand, but Long puts himself in the way, causing both him and Pockets to turn into gold statues. Din is unable to stop Long's statue from sinking to the bottom of a river, while Pockets shatters to pieces against the ground.
Long finds his human self at the entrance to the Spirit world. Despite being tempted to go through the gates, he pleads with the guardian god of the gate to return to Din because he has not used his third wish. The guardian agrees, on one condition. Din uses his last wish to heal Mr. Wang, and Long disappears.
Sometime later, Mr. Wang starts a restaurant featuring Din's mother's cooking, with both Din and Li Na helping. Din finds a teapot like the one Long resided in and releases him. Long tells Din the sole condition for his return to Earth was to stay and serve ten more masters. After saying goodbye to Long, Din places the teapot on a carriage driven by the elderly man from the beginning, who is actually the guardian of the gate to the Spirit world.
Why This Film Is More Than 3 Wishes
- Just like Sony Pictures Animation's other films, the animation is really well-done.
- The main characters Din Song and Long are likable characters.
- Great soundtrack by Philip Klein, who also scored The Last Full Measure.
- Great voice acting, especially for Jimmy Wong, John Cho, Constance Wu, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Jimmy O. Yang, Aaron Yoo, Will Yun Lee and Ronny Chieng.
- Nice direction of Chris Appelhans.
- The idea of an adventurous boy builds a dragon to meet a mythical goddess on the wish is unique.
- The look like design amazing cities, especially for Shanghai.
- Excellent visual effects, which were provided by Industrial Light & Magic.
- The city of Shanghai had good inspirations of the cover of novel or like a fairytale story like Aladdin from Disney or something.
- "And he was like, "Well, you know that was originally a Chinese folk tale!" And a little lightbulb went off and he told me to look it up. And once I did, because of his life and all the things he was facing made me."
- Though intentional, the story does feel a lot like Aladdin in a way albeit it does have major differences.
- Pockets seemed like a pretty weak villain.
- The Everlove's "Everything I Need" from the trailer is nowhere to be found in the movie.
Wish Dragon received mixed-to-positive reviews from critics and audiences, and has been both favorably and unfavorably compared to Disney's Aladdin. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 65% based on 23 reviews with an average rating of 6.20/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Although its juvenile humor may test some viewers' patience, Wish Dragon is a colorful and quirky romp that will warm audience's hearts.". On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 60 out of 100 based on reviews from 5 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".