Based on the classic Chinese mythology, The Investiture of the Gods, also known as Fengshen Yanyi; Creation of the Gods I: Kingdom of Storms (封神第一部：朝歌风云) brings forward a mind-blowing mythical war to overthrow King Zhou, the last ruler of the Shang dynasty, tying in the relations of humans, immortals, and monsters.
Eight years in the making and grossing 2.5 billion RMB in Chinese cinemas, director Wuershan’s first instalment of this trilogy is a high-quality masterpiece, showcasing the perfect blend of mythology, action, palace intrigue, with breath-taking cinematography.
Truthfully speaking, Fengshen Yanyi was not a novel I grew up with, and often I found myself not too keen with stories of mythical wars, political intrigue and fighting. As this isn’t a genre I usually gravitate to, I did find the film a little hard to initially follow and become engaged with, however Wuershan did wonderful job with the narrative, building up the character’s story. Before I knew it, I was on the edge of my seat eager to know what was going to happen next.
I’m in awe with how vast and grand the delivery of the sets, especially the battlefield and every aspect of the palace were. Even the detail of the gorgeous and intricate costuming to the well-designed mythical creatures thoroughly impressed. Although, there was a bit of awkwardness with some special effects and the CGI which did distract a little from the plot. But this can be easily overlooked with how impressive everything else is.
I particularly love Jifa (Yosh Yu) who I was rooting for every step of the way. His youthful and determined energy is radiating and I enjoyed watching his character grow. The tension between friendship, family, loyalty, and his choices had me engrossed. I was also very impressed with his clean fighting and horse-riding scenes that looked so natural.
With the addition of Huang Bo in the cast as Jiang Ziya, I knew would that there would be opportunities where I could have little laugh and enjoy some lighthearted moments. Despite Jiang Ziya being a key character, I loved the funny one liners or silly acts that blended in well without taking away the seriousness of the plot. It was cleverly crafted to bring a little fun in what would normally be just a dark and serious tale all the way.
I did find the ending to be a little abrupt, but understandably, Creation of the Gods I: Kingdom of Storms is only the first instalment to the trilogy. Not only has Kingdom of Storms set the trilogy up nicely but I’m certain that there’s so more exciting things to come in the next two films in the franchise.
Paired magnificently with a mix of humans, immortals, and mythical creatures, this new film tells the tale of a journey on how love, trust and greed can be blinding. Creation of the Gods I: Kingdom of Storms is a story of war and power, a story of family, a story of loyalty, and the factors that stand between them.