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Recommended age 8-18
110 minutes
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KEEPERS OF THE FIVE KINGDOMS, THE cover image Click to play video trailer
The film The Keeper of the Five Kingdoms has a ton of magic and mythical characters such as sorcerers, talking lizards, and trolls. The film takes place in a forest and that setting definitely fits the characters and scenes. The costumes also stand out as they fit the story so well.

The storyline follows a girl named Patsy Lee (Michelle Mao), her friend squirrel (Anna Harr), her brother Hopper (Matthew Sato) and her grandfather Chuck Lee (James Hong). One day they all get sucked into a portal in a stone and are transported to a magical kingdom where they face a lot of obstacles - in order for them to go back home they have to defeat the evil sorcerer.

This film is very cultural. I love its focus on Chinese culture. The costumes are outstanding, especially Allura's outfit before she turns into a troll - it's very detailed and beautiful. I like this film although it isn't really my style. The acting seems too unnatural; sometimes it's very overly dramatic and, in some scenes, you can tell there is a green screen behind them. Other than that the production is great! My favorite part is when Patsy gives the lizard the box with the bad magic stone. Then, the lizard puts the entire family in a gigantic hole in the ground, and starts dancing wildly above them. The way he dances is really funny. I love the relationship between the grandfather, Patsy, and Hopper. They always have each other's back. You can tell that they love each other.

The film's message is about friendship and a reminder that our family always has our back, no matter what. Hopper always has Patsy's back like when the bad guys try to force Hopper to give them the box and threaten his sister. Hopper protects his sister first and foremost.

I give Keeper of the Five Kingdoms 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it ages 8 to 12. This film releases on VOD and streaming June 18, 2024.

By Avalynn G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

If you like a youth-aimed action movie coupled with some ancient Chinese magic and funny situations, you will definitely like The Keepers Of The 5 Kingdoms. It is light, has no violence and is funny.

The story follows a queen named Lord Kuang (Bai Ling) who wants a box that contains magic. She sends two servants, Mr. Rat (Dante Basco) and Mr. Chicken (Dave Sheridan), some kids Patsy (Michelle Mao), Squirrel (Anna Harr) and Hopper (Matt Sato), plus a Chinese uncle named Chuck (James Hong) to find the box which leads them to an amazing adventure.

I commend the director, Zack Ward, for his work here. There are a lot of comical situations, like when Pasty's mom is trying to make Grandpa Chuck say that something was leopard pee. However, the animatronic and green screen work sometimes lack synchronization with the puppets' mouths, and some hair fades onto the green screen, like when they get out of the deep hole. Some actors could have been a bit more convincing, like when they are falling, the only person that looks convincing is Hopper.

The film's message is that love is a very strong power.

I give The Keepers Of The 5 Kingdoms 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12. This movie releases on VOD and streaming on June 18, 2024.

By Ryan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

I found The Keepers Of The 5 Kingdoms appealing due to its rich incorporation of Chinese culture, which brings authenticity and educational value as seen with the traditional elements like the Chinese leopard water, traditional attire, and the artifacts in the grandfather's store. The fantasy and adventure aspects, such as the magical land with a Chinese dragon and creative escapes like the car transformation, create an engaging, imaginative world. The film also delves into complex family dynamics, particularly the reconciliation between Patsy and her grandfather. The moral lessons, like the queen's redemption through Patsy's love spell, provide meaningful themes about forgiveness and transformation. However, the complex plot, numerous characters and rapid scene changes can be overwhelming, and the fast-paced narrative leads to a lack of depth at times. While the reliance on familiar fantasy tropes can feel predictable, the cultural richness and emotional arcs make it a compelling watch. Children will enjoy its exciting fantasy elements, like the magical portals, the Chinese dragon, mythical creatures and spells, and young characters like Patsy, which offer a sense of thrill and connection.

The film begins with a slave informing his master of finding a key to her freedom. Two men from the mythical world are sent to hunt for a treasure box with the key; they evade police using magic and communicate with the master through Chinese characters on a scroll. Patsy accidentally picks up a mystical box, which leads to a series of events where her friend, Harper, is taken hostage and will only be released on the condition that she gives the box back, thus leading them to travel to a magical land. There they encounter mythical creatures, solve ancient puzzles, and ultimately confront an evil queen, who is redeemed by Patsy's love spell, helping them return home.

The Keepers of the 5 Kingdoms offers a captivating blend of fantasy escapades and cultural exploration that are delightful. From mesmerizing magical portals to mythical creatures, the visuals are breathtaking. What sets this film apart is its rich cultural tapestry, with traditional Chinese music, clothing, artifacts, and beliefs seamlessly woven into the narrative. Viewers are not only entertained but also enlightened as they embark on a journey of cultural appreciation and understanding. The themes of family, friendship, and forgiveness resonate deeply, as characters like Patsy and her friends, with her grandfather's guidance, navigate challenges and ultimately find redemption through love and empathy. Through its intricate plot and dynamic characters, it encourages viewers to question, probe, and problem-solve, fostering critical thinking skills and igniting curiosity. The program strikes a perfect balance between educational value and entertainment, leaving audiences both enchanted and inspired.

The film bursts with cultural richness, although pacing issues, awkward scene transitions, and a complex plot affect its impact. It takes you on a wild ride and what really brings the story to life is the intelligent use of traditional Chinese music, artifacts and beliefs, magical portals and dragons. You feel as if you're stepping into another world! The film keeps things exciting with thrilling adventures and relatable young characters like Patsy. The reconciliation between Patsy and her grandfather adds emotional depth. The writer's mix of magic, adventure, and family drama is excellent. The storyline strikes a balance between fantasy, adventure and cultural education, providing an enriching experience for young people. Stunning visuals bring this film to life. The attention to details such as the majority of the cast being of Chinese descent, Joe's traditional clothing, and the grandfather's shop contribute to cultural authenticity. The mystical world set is well portrayed with its creatures, the queen's soldiers, the talking tortoise, invisible bridges, and the architecture of the castle. The skilled direction captures all of this - in both animated and live-action scenes there are clear, detailed visuals and high production values.

The film supports inquiry and investigation, and the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. For example, the incorporation of cultural elements encourages viewers to explore and learn about an unfamiliar culture, which fosters curiosity and understanding. Additionally, the fantastical elements, such as magical portals and mythical creatures, invite viewers to question and probe the boundaries of reality, stimulating their imaginations and creativity. The complex plot and character dynamics provide opportunities to analyze motivations and consequences, promoting critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The film offers a blend of educational value and entertainment that encourages viewers to engage with the content on multiple levels.

The film's message revolves around themes of family, friendship, cultural appreciation, and the power of love and forgiveness. The film emphasizes the importance of reconciliation and understanding within families, as seen in Patsy's reconciliation with her grandfather. The cultural elements of the film promote appreciation and respect for different cultures. The redemption of the evil queen highlights the transformative power of love and forgiveness, suggesting that understanding and empathy can lead to positive change.

I give The Keepers Of The 5 Kingdoms 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. This film releases on VOD and streaming June 18, 2024. By Gloria J., KIDS FIRST!

Join Chuck, Patsy, Squirrel, & Hopper on an epic quest to defeat the evil sorceress Kuang as you dive into a world of myth, magic, & 80's nostalgia in this thrilling, action-packed adventure! Directed by former child actor Zack Ward - Scut Farkus from A Christmas Story
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