15 Enchanting Chinese Fantasy Movies to Watch Right Now

15 Enchanting Chinese Fantasy Movies to Watch Right Now

The fantasy genre is really popular in China. Did you expect it? The love for fantasy movies and drama series is not surprising when you think about the country's rich history of mythology, legends, and fascinating supernatural stories.

In recent years, the fantasy genre has grown even more in China, mainly due to several factors discussed later in the article.

If you are new to the genre or already enjoy Western fantasy movies and want to broaden your horizons, I've got you covered! You can find them on streaming services like Roku and Netflix or on Chinese streaming services.

Here is a list of the top Chinese fantasy movies:

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Top 10 Chinese fantasy movies

1. Ne Zha—哪吒之魔童降世 Nézhā zhī Mótóng Jiàngshì (2019)


Ne Zha’s movie post, WellGoUSA 

Based on the Chinese legend of Nezha, "Ne Zha" tells the story of a boy who is born with the spirit of a demon and must fight to find his place in the world. The film features stunning animation and explores destiny, identity, and redemption themes. 

"Ne Zha" was a massive box office success in China, grossing over $700 million. It's the highest-grossing animated film in Chinese history, so I'd say it deserves to be on your bucket list.

2. The Mermaid—美人鱼 Měirényú (2016)

the Mermaid-min

The Mermaid’s movie poster, IMDb

This comedy-fantasy movie follows the story of a businessman who falls in love with a mermaid while trying to destroy her species. The movie combines humor, romance, and fantasy elements to create a delightful viewing experience.

3. Legend of the Naga Pearls—鲛珠传 Jiāo zhū chuán (2017)

Legend of the Naga Pearls movie trailer

This movie takes place in a world where humans and mythical creatures coexist. It follows the story of a thief who teams up with a prince and a mermaid to stop an evil emperor from obtaining the magical power of the naga pearls. The movie features breathtaking visuals, action sequences, and a compelling storyline.

4. The Sorcerer and the White Snake—白蛇传说之法海 Bái shé chuán shuō zhī fǎ hǎi (2011)

The Sorcerer and the White Snake-min

The Sorcerer and the White Snake’s movie poster, IMDb

Like many Chinese fantasy movies, "The Sorcerer and the White Snake" is based on a Chinese legend about a snake spirit who falls in love with a human man. This 2011 movie features stunning visuals and martial arts sequences, with the main themes being love and sacrifice.

5. Painted Skin—画皮 Huà pí (2008)

Painted Skin movie trailer

A classic Chinese ghost story inspired the 2008 film "Painted Skin," which tells the tale of a fox spirit disguising herself as a beautiful woman to seduce men. 

This movie has been praised for its visuals, and the cast's performance is excellent.

6. Mojin: The Lost Legend—鬼吹灯之寻龙诀 Guǐ chuī dēng zhī xún lóng jué (2015)

Mojin - The Lost Legend-min

Mojin: The Lost Legend’s movie poster, IMDb

This movie tells the story of a group of tomb raiders lured to an abandoned temple to find a lost treasure. If you watch this movie, you'll find a perfect blend of action, adventure, horror, and stunning visuals that bring the ancient temple to life.

7. Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame—狄仁杰之通天帝国 Dí rén jié zhī tōng tiān dì guó (2010)

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame’s movie trailer

This movie is a historical fantasy film set in the Tang Dynasty.

It follows the story of Detective Dee, based on the legendary figure of Judge Dee. He investigates a series of mysterious deaths linked to the construction of a giant Buddha statue. This movie's visuals, intricate plot twists, and impressive martial arts sequences will keep you on the edge of your seat.

8. The Great Wall—长城 Cháng chéng (2016)

The Great Wall-min

The Great Wall’s movie poster, IMDb

"The Great Wall" is a historical fantasy film by Zhang Yimou that tells the story of a group of European mercenaries recruited by the Chinese army to help defend the Great Wall against a horde of monsters. You will like this movie if you're looking for epic battle scenes, breathtaking visuals, and a fusion of Chinese and Western cultures.

9. The Fate of Lee Khan—迎春阁之风波 Yíng chūn gé zhī fēng bō (1973)

The Fate of Lee Khan’s movie trailer

This film is the right choice if you're looking for a wuxia (martial arts) classic. It follows the story of a group of rebels who plot to overthrow a tyrannical warlord during the Ming Dynasty. The movie features stunning action sequences and complex characters. It's safe to say its storyline has stood the test of time.

10. Dragon Blade—天将雄师 Tiān jiāng xióng shī (2015)

Dragon Blade-min

Dragon Blade’s movie poster, IMDb

Set in the Han Dynasty, this historical fantasy film tells the story of a Roman general who teams up with a Chinese commander to fight against a common enemy. This movie's star-studded cast includes Jackie Chan and John Cusack.

I'm sure you'll find a Chinese fantasy movie you like. These movies are just a small selection of the many great films that this genre has to offer.

You should try looking at iQiyi's catalog for more recommendations. It's very similar to Netflix, and you'll find a huge variety of movies and series accompanied by a short story summary. The videos have English subtitles; some are available even without a subscription so that you can try them.

5 Chinese fantasy films on Netflix

Here are a few more Chinese fantasy movies. These movies are available on Netflix, so you don't have to make excuses!

1. The Wandering Earth—流浪地球 Liúlàng dìqiú (2019)

The Wandering Earth's Netflix trailer

This movie is a science-fiction epic set in the distant future, where humanity must work together to save Earth from a dying sun, which is about to expand into a red giant and devour the planet. If you are looking for an alternative to classic Hollywood sci-fi movies, I recommend giving this film a shot.

You can watch it here.

2. Monster Hunt—捉妖记 Zhuō yāo jì (2015)

Monster Hunt trailer

Monster Hunt is the story of a man who becomes the surrogate father of a baby monster. Together, they embark on an adventure to save the monster world from an evil queen. You'll find a unique blend of humor, action, and fantasy in this movie.

Depending on your region, this film is available on Netflix.

3. Animal World—动物世界 Dòngwù shìjiè (2018)

Animal World trailer

This movie is based on a Japanese manga named Kaiji by Nobuyuki Fukumoto, and I'd say it is more on the psychological thriller side. Animal World tells the story of a young man who participates in a dangerous gambling party to pay off his debts. Does this sound familiar?

Maybe that's because Kaiji also inspired the famous Korean drama series Squid Game.

You can watch it on Netflix.

4. The Ghost Bride—彼岸之嫁 Bǐ àn zhī jià (2020)

The Ghost Bride Netflix trailer

This series follows the story of a young woman who becomes embroiled in a mystery involving a wealthy family and a ghostly bride. The movie features a unique blend of horror and romance and beautiful cinematography that brings the historical setting to life.

You can watch it here.

5. The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity—侍神令 Shì shén líng (2021)

The Yin Yang Master Netflix trailer

The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity is a Netflix film based on a popular Chinese video game, Onmoji–-which is, in turn, based on a Japanese collection of short stories. 

The protagonist is a master of Yin-Yang magic who must stop a demonic invasion of the mortal world.

Watch the movie here.

Frequently asked questions

China's fascination with mythology and legends plays a significant role in the popularity of this genre. Traditional stories have a special place in Chinese culture and people's hearts, which is easy to see when looking at the Chinese fantasy movie industry.

Legends and stories from ancient China have inspired films, TV dramas, fantasy novel series, animation, and other media. Online video games have also been adapted into fantasy movies.

The rise of online streaming platforms is another factor to consider. I'm referring to companies like iQiyi, Tencent Video, and Youku Tudou, which are very popular, especially among young people. These platforms have made it easier for Chinese people to access a wide range of content, including foreign films and TV shows, which has surely helped fuel their interest in the fantasy genre and has encouraged the production of new content.

This growth in demand has pushed Chinese filmmakers to create more sophisticated and complex works and invest in technology.

What are the genres of Chinese fantasy?

The Chinese fantasy genre can be divided into two main subcategories:

  • Xianxia—仙侠: a fantasy type centered around immortality and heroes and based on mythology. There are many Xianxia books and Xianxia films out there.

  • Wuxia—武侠: a genre that revolves around the world of martial. Similar to Xianxia, there are many Wuxia novels and Wuxia films.

Here's a video to help differentiate the difference between these two genres:

Difference between Wuxia and Xianxia; Ty the Canasian

The fantasy genre has become incredibly popular in China in recent years thanks to many combined factors, including the country's rich history of mythology and legends, China's advancements in technology, as well as the rise of online streaming platforms, online videogames, and the increasing demand for homegrown content.

As Chinese filmmakers continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in the fantasy genre, we can expect to see even more exciting and innovative works coming out of China.

In closing

I hope you liked the list of these best Chinese fantasy movies and found something to put on your movie bucket list.

The best things about these films are that they will keep you entertained, help you learn more about Chinese myths and legends, and help you learn Mandarin along the way. I recommend watching these Chinese fantasy films in their original language and turning on the subtitles: this will help you strengthen your listening and pronunciation skills while entering a fantasy world.

Elisa Felici has been studying Chinese since 2014. She started her language-learning journey at Italian universities and lived in Beijing while attending Beijing’s Confucius Institute. Elisa passed HSK 4 and 5 and, finally, in 2020, HSK 6. She now has a Master’s degree in translation and interpreting and has experience not only as a language learner but also as a Chinese teacher and translator.

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