Wish Dragon is a modern retelling of the famous Arabian Night Story, Aladdin, centered around genie-in-a-bottle. Our beloved, blue-belly-goofy genie is replaced by a smart-witty-pink dragon trapped in a teapot instead of a lamp or a bottle.
Directed and adapted by Chris Appelhans, the animated film is based in mainland China. The dragon genie tries to get accustomed to gadgets all around. The story also deals with his origins. Our write-up today is solely dedicated to his wittiness.
Who was the Dragon Genie?
LongZhu, the soul trapped inside the genie, was a forgotten Chinese emperor of the Qing Dynasty. He was born into royalty and from an early age thought that gold is the answer to all the world’s problems, be it economic or emotional. He dedicated his life to expanding his fortune and worked tirelessly year after year. Even married his daughters for an alliance, a relationship they weren’t happy with, but it brought royalty to the kingdom. He became a greedy king who laid on his deathbed alone, without a family or a friend.
When LongZhu arrived at the gates of the spirit world, the gates remained closed for him. He brawled with the gods/gatekeeper who transformed him into a Wish Dragon as a punishment. He was punished to serve 10 masters so that he can understand the true meaning of life.
Who was Din?
A toddler Din was a child blessed with imagination. At school, his only friend who matched his craziness was Lina. But soon after their bond became strong, Lina and her father left old shikumen to settle in a better class society and live the life of the rich.
10 years later, a young Din (voiced by Jimmy Wong) worked his days off while skipping school to buy a gift for Lina and introduce himself to the only girl he ever had in life. But there is a social gap between the two love birds, which Din fails to bridge.
Looking at his miserable state but passionate love, the gods gifted him a green teapot that encaptivated a pink wish dragon. After that, it was a fairytale come true.
Who handed Din the magic pot?
Din used to deliver food parcels all around the city. On a lucky day, his final delivery was addressed to a demolished land where a man with a Chinese lute (pipa) handed him the green teapot in exchange for the food. The barter was made intentionally rather than due to necessity.
The same old, often referred to as the gatekeeper, was seen as an aural giant in the film’s opening shots. LongZhu, the Dragon, called him a god.
In the ending sequence, the same old man carried away the “white teapot” with a wishing dragon in it, while charmingly calling out to the world, “I am a god.”
Thus, this strange man/god was a spirit gatekeeper and the protector of LongZhu. He made sure that the magical teapot only went into the hands of those who deserve it. Thereby saving the world from a possible humanitarian catastrophe.
What was LongZhu’s Dilemma?
To attain salvation and an entry into the spirit world, LongZhu, like a wishing dragon, had to serve 10 masters and grant three wishes for each of them. Din was his last master and the hardest nut to crack. Din was a simpleton, unlike the previous 9 masters, greedy over gold. He wanted to attain love, something a wish-granting dragon couldn’t do for the kid. The dilemma made the adventure interesting for both the creatures.
Apparently, Din’sDin’s pure heart and generosity also changed LongZhu. Through Din, the Dragon understood that the real gold of life lies in the connections we make in the world. Our family, our friends, are worth more than anything than a person can ever possess.
Din’s resilience compelled LongZhu to go back to earth to grant the third wish to Din. He knew that Din wanted to use the last wish to bring back Lina’s father. The Dragon underlined that he couldn’t kill anyone, but he never said anything about granting a second chance.
As a punishment to go against the laws of heaven, LongZhu was sent back to earth under the condition to serve another 10 masters before he can finally experience peace.
‘Wish Dragon’ Ending Explained
Lina’sLina’s father, Mr. Wang, helped Din and his mother to open a soup noodle shop. The business was managed by Mr. Wang, while Din’sDin’s mother became the main cook. A fruitful partnership.
Din and Lina worked in the soup shop and stayed together forever, after (maybe).
In the end, Din spotted a white teapot in the storeroom. It had a similar dragon carving, as noticed on the previous magical green teapot. Din couldn’t ignore it but called out to his old friend, LongZhu. He told Din that he sacrificed his chance to enter the spirit world to grant the third wish to Din. LongZhu’sLongZhu’s moment to make a difference in the world was something he weighed more than his personal peace. Din couldn’t control but embrace the sacrifice of his friend, as it meant the world to him. He placed the teapot on a moving “rickshaw,” bidding goodbye to his friend, and hoped to see him soon again.
The Arabian Night Connection
LongZhu is a dragon-fied version of a blue genie. The rules are the same, three wishes to the master whoever opened the teapot. The wish dragon is also called Din as a “peasant” boy, which is again a reference to the Arabian Nights (Aladdin Folk Tale) where Aladdin was a peasant boy in “one of the cities of China.” Like Din, Aladdin also lived with his mother, and there was no father in the picture.
The genie helped Aladin to get the girl, and the same pursuit can be recognized here too. The kung-fu man (the protagonist) resembled Jafar, who was in search of gold and power. Thus, except for the Qing Dynasty origin story of the LongZhu, everything resembles the world of Aladin. And yes, the soup shop wasn’t in the original too, and Sultan never lost its kingdom. But these two points made the film a more generous happy-ever-after tale.
Wish Dragon is a 2021 Animated Fantasy Film written and directed by Chris Appelhans. It is streaming on Netflix.