A few weeks ago, we watched the movie Wish Dragon for our family movie night. The kids loved it, the grown-ups liked it and someone might have shed a tear or two. The movie is an animated comedy set in China and has a decent blend of humour, action, teenage angst and an emotional rollercoaster.
Similar to the Middle Eastern Aladdin story, this movie is based on the Chinese myth of a magical dragon capable of granting three wishes to the owner of its teapot (instead of a lamp). The dragon needs to serve ten masters before entering the golden gates of heaven to freedom and eternal glory.
The movie opens with the scene of someone being denied entry to the golden gates and banished to a magical teapot. The scene changes to a little boy Din and a little girl Li Na, living in the same neighbourhood and becoming best friends until the girl’s dad moves them out of that neighbourhood in search of a new and better life.
Ten years later, as the young man Din prepares to finally meet Li Na on her 19th birthday, he finds that the teapot he was recently given is home to a wish dragon called Long. Long tries his best to get done with Din’s three wishes so that he can finally enter the golden gates of his glorious future but Din refuses to give in easily, especially with his last wish. But when Din realises that he is unable to meet Li Na’s dad’s expectations because he is still poor, he makes the final wish that Long has been waiting for him to make: to become filthy rich.
Meanwhile, there are the usual bad guys who have been after the same teapot, led by Li Na’s dad as he is going bankrupt and needs a miracle to save himself, Li Na and their business. But after witnessing Din’s close bond with his family and friends, Long shows him the truth about his own past before granting his final wish. He tells Din that he learnt the greatest lesson of his life from the way Din valued his friends and family more than the riches of this world.
Just then, Li Na’s dad appears with the bad guys and the teapot is snatched by the bald bad guy, who is quick to start making his wishes, almost killing Li Na’s dad in the process. After a chase and fight sequence, finally Long relinquishes his heavenly return to grant Din his final wish, even though it meant he had to spend another 1000 years serving earthly masters. Din uses his final wish to save Li Na’s dad, everyone is safe and happy and together they start a new business. The end.
After finishing the movie, we asked the kids what they liked about the movie and if anything reminded them of the gospel story.
Here are some of the lessons we learnt together:
Our older one liked the part where Long gives up his long-awaited chance to be welcomed into the heavenly gates by a glorious parade so that he can grant his friend’s one last wish, which he knew would have nothing to do with gold and riches. It reminded us of how Christ left his glorious heavenly position to come down to earth to give us a chance at being redeemed by his sacrifice, to be adopted into the family of God.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1,2
Our younger one’s favourite part was when Din uses his last wish to save Li Na’s dad’s life. She said he could have wished for anything in the world, all the candies, toys, lego and jewels but he happily chose to use it to save his friend’s dad’s life. Just as God gave his one and only Son to die for humanity so that we may all have a chance to be alive in Him for eternity.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:17
Lastly, we talked about the importance of friends and family in our lives. How people are more important than things and possessions. That one day we will be asked to give an account of the relationships in our lives and not the accomplishments or possessions we had accumulated. It was a good reminder for me, above all.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. Phillipians 2:3-7
As our family learnt a new way to connect during these lockdowns, we are thankful to God for the lessons He is teaching us and the way He is reminding us of his character. My kids and husband bonded over the Star Wars movie series, or was it Star Trek? Maybe next time I should write about what they learnt from those movies.