A Writer’s Odyssey review: A thrilling fantasy adventure

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Novelist Lu Kongwen's (Dong Zijian) story becomes real life in The Writer's Odyssey. (Photo: Golden Village Pictures)
Novelist Lu Kongwen's (Dong Zijian) story becomes real life in The Writer's Odyssey. (Photo: Golden Village Pictures)

Rating: NC16
Length: 130 minutes
Director: Lu Yang
Cast: Lei Jiayin, Yang Mi, Dong Zijian, Yu Hewei, Guo Jingfei
Language: Mandarin with English and Chinese subtitles

Release date: 12 February 2021 (Singapore)

3.5 out of 5 stars

In A Writer’s Odyssey, there are two parallel worlds: one in the real world, and one in the world of a novel written by Lu Kongwen (Dong Zijian). The novel titled Godslayer tells the story of a heroic teenager also named Kongwen, who is on a quest to end the tyrannical rule of Lord Redmane, under the guidance of a Black Armour (Guo Jingfei). However, it seems whatever happens in the novel will reflect uncannily in the real world too.

In order to avoid the impending consequences, Tu Ling (Yang Mi) baits Guan Ning (Lei Jiayin), who is looking for his missing daughter, into assassinating the author, using his supernatural ability to throw stones and similar objects with a critical hit rate. As Guan Ning gets to know Kongwen, he uncovers the reason behind his strange, recurring dreams that coincide with scenes in Kongwen’s novel, and the whereabouts of his daughter.

A Writer’s Odyssey amazingly ties the two parallel worlds together. The interpersonal relationships in the real world have counterparts in the novel world, making it pretty fun to guess who from the real world is who in the novel. Without blatant explanation, apart from the obvious Kongwen, the plot makes it easy to decipher their respective roles.

Be it in the real world or in the novel world, the characters are well-developed. In particular, the talking Black Armour is the most interesting of all. It seems to play a rather minor role in the beginning, shrouded in mystery. But as the story progresses, it turns out to be a powerful ally. The Black Armour is also unexpectedly the comic relief of the movie, which is quite a joy to watch.

Action lovers will find A Writer’s Odyssey exciting and thrilling. As the novel world is set in a warring period, it is planted with multiple fighting scenes, from large-scale ones like invading a territory to one-on-one battle between Kongwen and Lord Redmane. The invasion is also an ingenious eye-opener when they use “flying Chinese dragons” (technically chains of hot air balloons with dragon heads) to attack the enemies. Although the movie runs over two hours, it definitely did not feel like it with all the engaging scenes.

The only regrettable shortfall is the ending, which leaves a number of mysteries unanswered. Although it is known that the real world has people with supernatural abilities, the movie does not explain how the novel world is able to affect the real world. A background story about Kongwen briefly mentions his father was murdered, but it also does not explain why he is murdered. Even towards the end, it is unknown whether Kongwen knows the novel world can affect the real world, and how his father died. As for the real world “Lord Redmane”, his ending is too short for an antagonist.

Notwithstanding the not-so-good ending, A Writer’s Odyssey is a great action film to watch this Chinese New Year, with a remarkable plot, carefully crafted characters and captivating fighting scenes.

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