The Legend of Hei

The Legend of Hei: NYICFF Movie Review

The Legend of Hei

I grew up on TV shows like Dragonball Z and the original Pokemon. As well as movies like Princess Mononoke. I love the stories, characters, and animation of these shows and movies. It makes me happy. I feel that is one of the reasons I was so drawn to screen The Legend of Hei at the New York International Children’s Film Festival. After watching The Legend of Hei I cannot stop thinking about it. So, below is my The Legend of Hei NYICFF Movie Review!

The Legend of Hei NYICFF Movie Review

My Review

I am so glad I chose to watch The Legend of Hei during NYICFF. ( It was released in China and Japan in 2019.) The movie is spectacular. From its animation to its compelling story The Legend of Hei is a movie I could, and will, be watching over and over. The story, characters, and animation form together to create a masterpiece you never want to end.

The Story

The story in The Legend of Hei is so complex. (But also one we have heard before. Example: FurnGully.) It is a story of spirits, humans, industrial development, and finding one’s place in the world. The story is like two sides of a coin. One side of the coin holds the spirits who want their forest home back from the humans who have bulldozed them over and built cities. The other side of the coin holds the spirits who have learned to live in a sort of harmony with humans and co-exist with them. Along with protecting them from spirits who would try and hurt them and their cities.

Then you have Hei. A spirit who is unaware of his powers or his place in the world. He just wants a home and a family. But it turns out Hei has a power that is wanted by other spirits because it can be used to wipe out the humans and their cities. It is up to Hei to learn how to use and control his powers and also the difference between the two sides of the coin. Which side will he choose?

Again, this type of story has been told before, but the way it is told in The Legend of Hei is spectacular. It is fantastic to watch and learn about all of the spirit characters, their powers, and also to hear from them as to why they chose the side they did. Some spirits, even though they do not like humans still help to maintain the delicate balance of peace between the spirits and the humans.

The Characters

While watching The Legend of Hei you cannot help yourself from loving Hei. His character has the most to learn, and he is more than up to the task. Other characters that are amazing are Infinity. His character is shrouded in mystery since he is a human, but is more powerful then most spirits. When Hei and Infinity meet it is comical and inspirational at the same time. But what really elevates this story is the animation.

The animation

The animation in The Legend of Hei is eye-popping and beautiful. It is the type of animation where if none of the characters spoke you could still tell what was going on in the story and the movie would still amaze you. The fight scenes are choreographed, written, and animated perfectly, and even the more calm scenes have some of the most beautiful and serene animation.

My Rating and is the movie ok for kids?

I give The Legend of Hei an A-, and I highly recommend it. My only qualm with the movie is with the character Infinity. There is no explanation of how as a human he has powers. So, his character has this ever so slightly confusing element to it. If you love donghua and anime then you will absolutely love The Legend of Hei. Is the movie ok for kids? Yes, but I do recommend it for ages 7+. There is animated violence, and sequences where characters steal other character’s powers/life forces. But other than that the movie isn’t really scary, and should be fine for kids.


With an inky black coat, adorable mewl, and eyes as big as saucers, Xiao Hei is the cutest feline around. But don’t let his good looks fool you, he’s more than just a cat. When he meets up with a motley band of spirit-creatures and human-like beings with superhuman powers, Hei finds that he, too, is a spirit and shapeshifts from cat to kid form. His new friends train and challenge him in the warrior spirit arts, with the pressing goal of saving their beloved forest from developers destroying it in this lushly rendered tale. Evoking Studio Ghibli’s ecological fables, The Legend of Hei is a winsome combination of heart, soul, fantasy, and an extraordinary adventure.


Interested in more of my NYICFF coverage? Make sure to check out my NYICFF movie review of My Dad is a Heel Wrestler HERE.

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