REVIEW: ‘The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity’ is a Story of Love and Obsession

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The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity

Content Warning: The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity contains a scene depicting suicide.

The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity is a far-eastern fantasy film on Netflix. Every few decades, a great demonic serpent awakens from its slumber. When it does, four are chosen to travel to the Imperial Capital and do battle with the serpent. If they succeed, the kingdom is safe again. If they fail, their world is doomed. But when one of the four is murdered before the serpent’s awakening, it is likely the ancient beast isn’t the only threat the group faces.

Fantasy is a wonderful concept. The ability to write stories in which anything can happen thanks to the magical nature of its inhabitants leaves the genre open to a truly limitless number of concepts. But while everything is possible in a magical setting, The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity reminds us that not everything necessarily should be done In such a story.

The movie opens strong with a quick but effective introduction of the main character, the threat the world faces, and the heights of magical power the viewer can expect from this feature. The efficiency and skill with which this movie delivers its introduction are awe-inspiring. More fantasy concepts would do well to get their story’s rolling so smoothly. But alas, the momentum built up by the opening moments soon bleeds away as the movie enters the second act.

Following his master’s dying request, Qing Ming heads to the Capital to represent his clan as one of the chosen four who will lock away the serpent. But when one of his fellow chosen is murdered before the ceremony can take place, treachery is suspected. And as the Capital is sealed from intrusion, it is concluded that one of them must be the murderer. This is where The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity struggles the most as the movie blends its fantasy elements with what it attempts to mold into a murder mystery. But there is one glaring problem: magic.

While the narrative does a good job of disguising both the motive and the perpetrator, there must be some possibility for the audience to deduce who the killer is for a mystery to truly land. But with so many magical elements continually being revealed, the viewer is ultimately just along for the ride. This could also work if the mystery portion of the story didn’t drag on so long.

Once the movie’s middle act concludes, and the big reveal is made, the final portion of The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity returns to the epic fantasy that it opens with. While the scale isn’t on par with some of Hollywood’s big-budget extravaganzas, what is delivered looks amazing. It feels like the production staff had a full understanding of what they had the means to do while maintaining a top-quality presentation and never went beyond it. There is only one particular point during the big finale that truly missteps for me when it breaks one of fantasy’s cardinal rules.

As I mentioned earlier, fantasy’s greatest strength is that you can do anything there. All because of that wonderful thing called magic. However, once a story sets a limiter on a magical ability, whether it be conditions of use, prep time, or some other restriction, they must adhere to it. Breaking a rule once established makes the writing feel lazy. Like they couldn’t figure out how to resolve the plot, so they broke their own rule to allow the hero to cheat a victory. The instance in The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity where this occurs is even worse than many instances of this failure in that the rule is established and then broken within 20 minutes of each other. This causes the cheat to be all but missable by the viewer.

The only other aspect of The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity that may turn some viewers off is its sense of melodrama. As is often the case with high fantasy, swelling moments where characters speak of eternal loves, endless pains, and undying hurts come up more than once throughout this picture. While I never caught myself rolling my eyes at the levels of melodrama, there are a few scenes that lay it on pretty thick. If you are not fond of this sort of drama, you probably want to steer clear of this one.

One place where I cannot praise The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity enough is in its costume and set designs. Every aspect of this movie’s visuals is breathtaking. Lavish is the only word I can think of to describe it, and I feel like that still falls a bit short. What’s more, the film manages this level of visual splendor without ever becoming tacky or overdone.

When it all comes together, The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity delivers great magical visuals and gorgeous sets while being hampered by a slow-burning mystery in its second act. It delivers a fantasy tale that leans into its drama and wraps its story up with an impressive final bang.

The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity is streaming now on Netflix.

 

The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity
  • 7.5/10
    Rating - 7.5/10
7.5/10

TL;DR

When it all comes together, The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity delivers great magical visuals and gorgeous sets while being hampered by a slow-burning mystery in its second act. It delivers a fantasy tale that leans into its drama and wraps its story up with an impressive final bang.