This Chinese American co-production was a big hit in its native country before being acquired for international distribution by Netflix. Normally the kiss of death for live-action features. They have a habit of inflicting the blandest features possible on an unsuspecting streaming public and sucking out whatever life they may have had Less so with animation. There animated productions and acquisitions tend to be more interesting fair. Well, This reviewer is somewhat annoyed his film of the year will not be getting a wide theatrical release it was Netflix that ultimately brought Mitchell’s VS The Machines to the widest possible audience. Here is another Sony Pictures Animation production. Effectively Alladin sat in modern China with a predominantly Asian American voice cast
Unfortunately for Wish Dragon the first point of comparison that struck this viewers mind whilst watching was the films of Studio Pearl especially fellow Netflix release Over The Moon. Say what you will about that film blatant lifting of Disney formula and combining it with contemporary Chinese mythology ( something true for both films.) On a purely visual level, it was one of the most stunning pieces of animation released over the past few years. Wish Dragons visual style and budget looks a lot more modest by comparison. After a rough opening stretch, once the protagonist and Wish Dragon are together there are some solid slapstick set pieces for the rest of the runtime. The Disney worship becomes even more blatant when the main character partly uses the Dragons power to win back the heart of his childhood friend who is now a major celebrity. This is a formula that can work when done well. If viewers are in the mood for solid all-ages entertainment regardless of plot structure entirely lifted from renaissance era Disney they could do a lot worse.
This is probably close to the best film that could be expected if you gave a team of artists a modest budget and told them to make Chinese Aladdin. Judging the production for what it is with the obvious budget limitations the final results are more entertaining than might be expected.