Fantasia Film Festival: Demigod: The Legend Begins (素還真) review

Demigod: The legend begins

Demigod: The legend begins is an experience. That is the most fitting description for a film like this. In Chinese culture, hand puppetry (or budaixi) was used as a theatrical form. In contemporary Taiwanese culture, hand puppetry is a popular art form—particularly in the television series Pili. If you don’t know Pili, you might associate the film with stop-motion animation. Rightly so. The puppets do not appear like traditional western puppetry. They move fluidly and have a porcelain doll look.

Despite this, the storyline is still effective and has the look and feel of a traditional live-action wuxia film. The character designs are meticulously crafted. The stylish costumes, trinkets, weapons, and MacGuffins are all stunning. Since Demigod: The legend begins does not have to adapt to the limitations of a theater stage, the film takes us to breathtaking places such as huge castles or magical forests and mountains. Director Chris Huang’s use of CGI and practical effects also adds to the sense of realism they are trying to portray. Regardless, there’s so much you can do to make audiences forget they’re still puppets. While it’s shocking to see all the gore and obscenity from these characters, it just adds to the campiness and charm of the film.


Demigod: The legend begins is a unique film experience. Although the film gives you the feeling of watching a classic wuxia film, you are still constantly reminded of the film’s use of hand puppets.


Despite the unique look of demigod, the elements of the story are recognizable – especially for those who watch Wuxia movies frequently. The young swordsman trying to prove himself, the cantankerous old master, the villain wanting nothing but absolute power, the wire mesh – all tropes found in martial arts fantasy films. As a result, with all of these tropes, the movie progresses as one might expect. The plot also suffers from a lack of development. Towards the end of the film Demigod: The legend begins goes through many of the introductions to supernatural elements quickly, with no gradual introductions. Despite the familiarity of the plot, the drama never falters. As the story progresses, the stakes increase and the mood and tone change as well. The film gives the characters ample time to develop over the course of the film. Hence, demigod will leave you with a feel for these inorganic marionettes.

In total, Demigod: The legend begins is a unique film experience. Although the film gives you the feeling of watching a classic wuxia film, you are still constantly reminded of the film’s use of hand puppets. No matter how you would describe it Demigod: The legend begins, one thing is clear: it offers plenty of entertainment for those who are willing to give the film a chance. I’ve never heard of Pili Puppetry until now. Still, I’m excited to see what Su Huan Jin’s adventures will look like in the future.

Rating: 3.5/5 Atoms

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