PILI has been playing on TV in Taiwan since the 1984 and it looks wild to Western eyes, an example of Taiwanese art of bùdàixì glove puppetry. Unlike traditional puppetry, PILI uses computer-generated imagery during its action sequences. Also, in case you didn’t pick up on it from the movies on the site this week, Taiwan does some absolutely berserk wuxia films.
Demigod: The Legend Begins is the origin story for one of its most popular characters, Su Huan-jen. Not yet a powerful warrior but just a student, he seeks to escape the obligations and debt that he owes to the local librarian. Using his acupuncture skills, Huan-jen barely gets by. But when he has the chance to heal the Lord of Globe Castle, he gets to see the rich man’s sacred library as well as get involved in a war between humanity and the celestial kingdoms beyond mortal men. And when Su Huan-jen is framed for the lord’s murder, his own life is on the line in the midst of all this spiritual warfare.
Director Chris Huang Wen Chang and writers Huang Liang-hsun and He Yuan-yu have created a movie that looks astounding but has a story that makes you forget that you’re just watching puppets in action. They become living characters and draw you in. There’s nothing else I’ve seen like this and I can’t wait to hunt down more of this.
You can watch Demigod: The Legend Begins with a Fantastic Fest virtual badge here.