Creation of the Gods I

“China’s Lord of the Rings” Wins Big at Golden Rooster Awards

Director Wuershan reportedly dreamed up the fantasy epic after watching the first ‘Lord of the Rings’ movie in 2001

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8:59 PM HKT, Mon November 13, 2023 1 mins read

The Chinese film industry is still buzzing about ‘Creation of the Gods,’ after its big night at the 2023 Golden Rooster Awards on Saturday.

The fantasy epic set in ancient China is the first installment of the ‘Fengshen trilogy.’ The film, for many reasons, has drawn comparisons to Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings’ — even bringing on LOTR producer Barrie M. Osborne to serve as production consultant.

Having proved itself as a major box office juggernaut, ‘Creation of the Gods’ is now also a critical success, after taking home the Best Feature Film, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Cinematography prizes at China’s biggest film awards.

Another standout was espionage thriller ‘Hidden Blade,’ which secured director Cheng Er the Best Director award, and Hong Kong superstar Tony Leung the Best Actor award. Sci-fi sequel ‘The Wandering Earth 2’ had a strong showing as well, nabbing Special Jury and Best Sound awards.

There have been several attempts to bring ‘Investiture of the Gods’ to life onscreen, with mostly lukewarm results. But while previous attempts may have faltered, ‘Creation of the Gods I’ seems to break the curse with its magnificent world-building and lavish production.

“‘Investiture of the Gods’ is a key representation of Chinese traditional culture,” said director Wuershan. “[Our mission is] to transform the culture that we believe is valuable into a contemporary form that young people can constantly draw strength from.”

“When Wuershan came to me in San Francisco, I was so excited,” said Timmy Yip, who won an Oscar for his art direction on ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,’ and took on ‘Creation of the Gods’ as his largest-scale project yet.

“China has long been looking for ways to bring ‘Investiture of the Gods’ to the silver screen,” he said.

The official poster of "Creation of the Gods I"

With the trilogy’s reported budget of $412 million USD, the first installment initially struggled to recoup its investment. Soon though, word-of-mouth praise eventually propelled it to over $362 million USD at the Chinese box office, securing its spot among the top-grossing films of 2023.

Audiences loved the reimagined portrayal of the feminine fox spirit Daji, who has traditionally been blamed for enabling the despotic rule of King Zhou. Here, more blame seems to fall on Zhou’s unchecked greed and paranoia.

Rising actress Naran plays the role of the fox-turned-human Su Daji in the film.

Rising actress Naran plays the role of the fox-turned-human Su Daji

Online chatter about the film is overwhelmingly positive.

“What this represents for Chinese film, is actually more important than the film itself,” reads one top review on Douban, a major Chinese film review platform similar to IMDb.

“Wuershan did a decent job in terms of how to present China’s own epic film,” wrote another reviewer.

“Those young actors showed promise in their acting abilities, but first I couldn’t help drooling over their sturdy physiques,” wrote another.

(Others, meanwhile, were drooling over older physiques...)

Nonetheless, ‘Creation of the Gods I’ represents a milestone for China’s film industry when it comes to reviving ancient folklore in a contemporary blockbuster format — and a triple win at the Golden Rooster Awards seems to seal the deal.

Images via Douban

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