Known as Little Door Guards in China, The Guardian Brothers was taken by Netflix for the English release. Its rare to see an animated movie come out of China and land in the United States. I remember hearing years back that China really hated that many of their citizens never liked their original creations in comparison to stuff created in Japan, America, and Europe especially in the realm of animation. So I suppose they made this one to help make a splash into the industry. I was surprised to learn that Netflix had gotten a pretty solid voice cast with Edward Norton, Nicole Kidman, Bella Thorne, Mel Brooks, and others lending their talents. But the bigger question, was it any good?
The film is set in the modern day. A young girl named Raindrop (or Rain for short) and her mother Luli reunite with grandma and her soup restaurant. Not long afterward, Rain’s grandma dies which leaves Luli and Rain to take over. Rain’s grandmother was one of the few people in the world who still believed in the spirits of Chinese mythology. She honestly believed that the spirits would protect her if she did the customary things.
And ol’ grandma was right about the spirits, except the vast majority of them considered themselves to be on strike since humanity never appreciated what they did anyway. Two spirits named Yu Lei and Shen Tu see a elder spirit be banished for helping the humans. The two realize that the connection between the spirit world and the human world is eroding. Yu Lei has a plan to get the connection back again. He jumps into the human world with a daring plan, but he does happen to meet Raindrop who wants to help him as well.
Overall The Guardian Brothers isn’t the greatest animated film ever, but it was still pretty good. The story is rather simple, but I will say the politics of the spirit world made little sense to me. Yu Lei and Raindrop are very likable characters and they have a pretty touching story. However, there isn’t a lot of depth here and it almost seems like a really well-done film…for television. It does seem like it would have been a bad idea for a American film company to have brought this to theaters. China really needs to step up their game if they think they can compete with Pixar, other Disney films, and Dreamworks.