#1 Little Door Gods 小门神 （Xiǎo Mén Shén）
- Even though the movie was made in 2016, it is one of the more engaging Chinese movies on YouTube till today
Simple conversational dialogue, easy for young Chinese learners to understand
High quality animation, adorable character design
English and Chinese subtitles for family fun
I love this contemporary family story about Chinese traditions. I remember the days when many families in my hometown left posters of gods on their doors to allow the spirits access to protect their homes. Lovely!
#2 The Magic Brush 神笔马良 (shén bǐ mǎ liáng)
- The movie was an ambitious production in 2014 supported by Disney China. Although it didn’t receive much international attention, it remains one of the better-made Chinese animation movies.
- The movie, although not comparable to a true blockbuster Disney movie, is fun and joyful. The storytelling was unpredictable and engaging.
- The animation’s settings, design and lighting are beautiful, and the characters are adorable!
- Everyday conversational dialogue makes it easier for young Chinese learners to understand than some more mature movies
- English and Chinese subtitles for family fun
- The story is based on a Chinese folk tale that has been widely interpreted through art and literature throughout Chinese history. Watching the movie is a nice way to introduce the “famous” Ma Liang character to young children.
Warning: The animation can be choppy in places. And some humor may not land well with an audience that is not familiar with Chinese language and culture.
Plot: A young and kind peasant boy named Ma Liang loved drawing and drew pictures everywhere. He had the greatest dream to be an artist. He lived a peaceful and happy life in his hometown Bai Hua village.
All was well until, one day, a powerful general with an evil plan paid a visit to Bai Hua village. He kidnapped the emperor and had a plan to evict the village in order to mine the land for gold. Disaster was imminent for the villagers.
As the general plotted out his ill plan, the boy Ma Liang was given a magic paintbrush by the Ink Spirit. The Ink Spirit informed Ma Liang of the brush’s great power and told him to use it wisely, because whatever Ma Liang drew with the brush, the drawing would come to life instantly.
Ma Liang used his paintbrush to help the villagers protect their homes, but the general found out about the magic brush and plotted to steal it…
With a spiritual awakening, Ma Liang learned that he must “draw from the heart” in order to unleash the real power of the magic brush.
#3 Kung Food 美食大冒险之英雄烩 (měi shí dà mào xiǎn zhī yīng xióng huì)
- Kung Food is an adaptation of a popular Children’s TV series about an adventurous stuffed steamed bun. It took 13 million dollars and more than half a decade to develop and produce in China. Although the movie didn’t take off internationally as planned, I think it is a very well made Chinese animated film!
- Lots of exciting action for all the little Kung Fu fans out there
- Adorable characters that are all foods. What else tells a better story about Chinese culture than foods? Noodle lady, dumpling baby, sushi man, …
- The movie, although not comparable to the most popular Disney movies, is fun and entertaining an the storytelling is engaging.
- The animation’s settings, design and lighting are all high quality.
Warning: Some conversation may not be easily understandable for an audience that is not familiar with Chinese literature and culture. And it doesn’t help that there are no English subtitles!
Plot: Super Bao, an innocent and passionate stuffed steamed bun, goes through untold hardships and finally grows into a great hero who saves the world of foods. All heroes in the movie are types of food!
#4 Kung Fu Boys 龙拳小子 ( Lóng Quán Xiǎo Zi)
A story sophisticated enough for big kids, with short and simple dialogue
Lots of exciting Kung Fu action
Excellent cast, especially the hero, 14-year-old Lin Qiu Nan
English and Chinese subtitles for family fun
One of my boys’ favorite Chinese movies. They giggle, laugh and exclaim throughout the movie!
#5 Lunar New Year's Day 元日 (Yuǎn Rì)
Charming modern adaption of a 900-year-old classic Chinese poem by 王安石 ( wǎng ān shí)
Song Dynasty (960-1279) setting with authentic, traditional New Year activities
Simple conversational language
Short and sweet
Pleasing original graphic design and music
Not only a delight for children, the film also sentimentally appeals to busy parents. Some of the beloved new year activities, for example, the blowing sugar figures, no longer commonly seen in today’s China, can be seen here. The new short film has received rave reviews from parents with young children in China.
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