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"All I to save whoever I am able."
Jiang Ziya
The Legend of Deification
Jiang Ziya (Chinese: 姜子牙; Pinyin: Jiāng Zǐyá), also known as The Legend of Deification, is a 2020 Chinese feature-length animated fantasy film by Beijing Enlight Pictures, Coloroom Pictures, Zhongchuan Hedao, and Cocoa beans Animation. Serving as a followup to Ne Zha, the plot is a sequel to the events of the second act of classic novel Investiture of the Gods, attributed to Xu Zhonglin. Initially scheduled for release on 25 January 2020, the film was postponed until 1 October 2020. On 9 February 2021, an English dub featuring Christopher Sabat as Jiang Ziya was released.

After the powerful Fox Devil known as Nine-Tailed drove Emperor Zhou of the Shang Dynasty to madness and plunged the mortal world into ruination and chaos by instigating a Great War, the gods of the Celestial Bureaucracy sent a divine army led by the Immortal warrior Jiang Ziya to slay her. Defeating the Nine-Tailed and ending the Great War, Jiang was tasked by the Heavenly Master of Jingxu Hall with executing her, but hesitated when the Nine-Tailed revealed the life of a young woman was tied to hers. For his failure to comply, Jiang was stripped of his divinity and exiled to the frozen wasteland of Beihai by the gods — who dismissed Nine-Tailed's revelation as an illusion — until he could admit he had been tricked; accompanied by the divine beast Four-Alike and the shapeshifting Immortal Shen Gongbao.


Ten years later, Jiang encounters Xiao Jiu, an amnesiac young woman with fox-ears who he recognizes as the girl from Nine-Tailed's vision. Determined to uncover the truth behind Jiu's identity and her connection to Nine-Tailed, Jiang decides to accompany her on her quest to reach Mount Youdu and regain her memories.

Jiang Ziya contains the following tropes:

  • After the End: The story is set in the wake of a massive war involving the three realms of Earth, Heaven, and Hell. The Shang Dynasty was toppled and the Earth was devastated as a result, turning the region of Beihai into a frozen wasteland and a verdant forest into a scorching desert. The epilogue shows that after Jiang Ziya destroys the Heavenly Staircase the Earth begins to recover from the devastation, and society rebuilt itself into the Zhou Dynasty.
  • Ambiguous Situation:
    • Towards the end of the film it's revealed that the only way for Jiu to be freed from the Lock of Destiny is for her to reincarnate after passing through the Ruins of Return — which indicates that she may have been Dead All Along, though she looks nothing like the ghosts seen throughout the movie.
    • The film never makes it clear why Nine-Tailed was still after Jiu once she reclaimed the shard of her power from her, beyond the Lock of Destiny tethering them together.
    • Shen Gongbao seems to be mortally wounded while trying to stall Nine-Tailed but we never see a killing blow. He appears in the final scene, as an adult, while obviously reincarnated characters in the same scene are children, and with complete memories of the movie's events.
  • Animalistic Abomination: Nine-Tailed is a nine-tailed fox-monster with four arms, and post-"resurrection" can transform from her physical form to a mass of black-and-red miasma with the Suppressing Seal on top. After she absorbs the vengeful spirits of the Fox Clan, she transforms into a massive vortex of miasma with a gigantic monstrous fox-head on top, and is powerful enough to briefly overwhelm the divine instrument of the gods.
  • Art Shift: The prelude showing the end of the Great War is traditionally animated, while the rest of the film uses CGI animation.
  • Awful Truth: Jui has long suppressed the memory that she was previously sold as the Emperor's concubine by her own father. Nine-Tailed forces Jui to remember this in order to explain how she came to connect their life forces.
  • Back from the Dead: Nine-Tailed's human form was executed, but ten years later she managed to retake physical form as a four-armed nine-tailed fox-monster.
  • Badass and Child Duo: Jiang Ziya and Xiao Jiu, after Jiang's Promotion to Parent.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: The tavern in Beihai is full of surly and aggressive immortals and demons exiled by the gods after the war.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: The prologue of the movie is essentially a traditionally animated war sequence.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Just when it looks like the now deified Jiang might be able to rescue Jiu, the divine instrument — a massive golden guillotine — cleaves through her and reduces her soul to motes of light. Furious, Jiang ascends to heaven and lays waste to Jingxu Hall to prevent the gods from meddling in mortal affairs ever again. The film ends on a hopeful note with Shen reincarnated and telling the story to his apprentice, Four-Alike reincarnated as a dog, and Jiu reincarnated as a young girl with a loving father. Jiang, however, is heavily implied to be imprisoned in a place called Dujie City (apparently a prison for the gods) in The Stinger.
  • Black Eyes of Crazy: Nine-Tailed has glowing blood-red irises with Hellish Pupils and black sclerae, emphasizing her nature as a bloodthirsty and sadistic monster.
  • Blood from the Mouth:
    • Sheng Gongbao spits out some blood after being fatally wounded by Nine-Tailed.
    • After Nine-Tailed shatters the Ruins of Return with her head, unleashing the vengeful sprits of the Fox-Devils imprisoned there, blood oozes from her jaws.
  • Broken Pedestal: Jiang Ziya originally wanted to be a god that protects the people of the world, but after seeing evidence of how utterly corrupt the Heavenly Bureaucracy is Jiang eventually decided that he doesn't want to be a god anymore since he want no part of such machinations that led to the death of innocents.
  • Collector of the Strange: The fish-demon bartender of the tavern in Beihai keeps a small trove of divine and mystical artefacts and trinkets left over from the Great War.
  • Cool Chair: In the prelude, Nine-Tailed gleefully lounges on a massive ornate Fox Devil-themed throne.
  • Cool Mask: There's a few.
    • The Golden Masters of Jingxu Hall all wear golden masks that resemble elderly faces with their eyes closed.
    • The Nine-Tailed's powers were suppressed by Jiang using a mystical mask called the Suppressing Seal, enabling the gods to capture her. Over the course of the movie the mask starts to fall apart as she regains more and more of her full power.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • In the opening of the movie, Jiang easily nullifies Nine-Tailed's attempts to snare him with illusions before slapping the Suppressing Seal onto her face — enabling the gods to capture her.
    • Also, Jiang Ziya's Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the gods of Jingxu Hall and the Heavenly Master in the movie's final act.
  • Darker and Edgier: Very much so than Ne Zha. It features a dark atmosphere, death, blood trail, brutal violence, mild nudity, and some foul language. Not too surprising and shocking, though.
  • Deity of Human Origin:
    • King Zhou was immolated by Nine-Tailed towards the end of the Great War, but was posthumously made a god of marriage. When they're reunited, Nine-Tailed scornfully sneers that the world is a truely messed-up place if even someone like Zhou can become a god.
    • Jiang Ziya was on the brink of being promoted to godhood at the beginning of the movie, having been a Taoist Immortal who trained under the Heavenly Master himself. At the end of the film, he becomes a god powerful enough to break the Lock of Destiny and lay waste to Jingxu Hall in order to save Jiu, but even that isn't enough to save her.
  • Designated Villain: A calculated in-universe example. Nine-Tailed might have already been a murderous and nasty customer all too willing to condemn her entire race for a shot at godhood, but it was the Heavenly Master who orchestrated the war against the Fox-Devils to unite all three worlds and races against a common threat.
  • Determinator: There's a few.
    • Even though Jing was exiled from Jingxu Hall, he never stopped looking for the truth behind Nine-Tailed's words about Jiu.
    • Nine-Tailed is hell-bent on getting her revenge on the Heavenly Master for deceiving her with promises of godhood only to sentence her to death, no matter the cost.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Played for Laughs. When Jiang Ziya visits the tavern in Beihai to buy some food, he briefly glimpses a rather alluring-looking rabbit immortal which inadvertently causes him to walk straight into the pectorals of a minotaur-like demon.
  • Ear Notch: Jiu's left ear has a gash in it, revealed to be from a refugee who attempted to kill her thinking she was a Fox Devil.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: Jiu comes across a doll at a graveyard that reminds her of one she had in her youth.
    • Brought up again with Jiang Ziya to symbolize the heavy price paid by the mortal world due to the machinations of the gods and demons.
    • In between, Jui losing her doll to her father in the flashback symbolizes how his selfishness and selling her off as the Emperor's concubine robbed the girl of her innocence and childhood.
  • Enhanced Punch: As part of his taoist Supernatural Martial Arts, Shen Gongbao can charge his fists with magic, causing Hanzi characters to manifest around them.
  • Everyone Laughs Ending: Parodied in the Fake Crossover stinger with the cast of Ne Zha, where after Jiang Ziya's mental breakdown, everyone (including Jiang's costars) suddenly shows up to wish the audience good luck in the year 2021 while he continues looking bewildered, clearly not in on the joke.
  • Fire-Forged Friends:
    • Jiu and Four-Alike initially dislike each other, with the divine beast always growling at her, stealing her food, and swiping the map to Mount Youdu. After the battle with a monster skeleton reanimated by restless spirits, Four-Alike starts warming up to her and intervenes to protect her twice — blocking Shen Gongbao's magically-augmented punch when he tries to kill her, and shortly afterwards sacrificing itself to save her from Nine-Tailed.
    • Jiang and Jiu initially don't get along, with her constantly trying to steal the map to Youdu and ditch him, and him suspecting her of being Nine-Tailed in disguise. After they work together to defeat a monster reanimated by restless spirits, they begin to form a friendship that develops into a father-daughter bond — especially after it's revealed that Jiu isn't the Nine-Tailed but a girl who was dealt a bad hand in life.
  • Foreshadowing: It's foreshadowed that Jiu may be Dead All Along when she's drawn to the bone wind-chimes used to pacify the restless spirits stranded by the Great War, and to the Swallow that takes them to the afterlife. Furthermore, her life was bound to Nine-Tailed's, whose human form was decapitated at the beginning of the film.
  • Foul Fox: Nine-Tailed is a sadistic huli-jing who who drove King Zhou to madness and sought to conquer the world for the Fox-Devil Clan, and currently seeks to reclaim her full powers and take revenge on the gods.
  • A Friend in Need: Sheng Gongbao, at first, might seem to be something of a Jerkass to Jiang Ziya. However as the movie progresses it was shown that he's a true and loyal friend to Jiang, especially when he uses his own magic to help Jiang meet the gods of Jingxu Hall and holds off Nine-Tailed all by himself (at least for a while) to buy Jiang enough time to bring Jiu to the Ruins of Return.
  • Fuel Meter of Power: The longer Jiang spends in exile bereft of his divine powers, the weaker his Taoist magic becomes. Shen Gongbao even warns him that if he doesn't recant his belief in the Nine-Tailed's trickery he'll lose his powers completely and become mortal.
  • Gaslighting: The Masters of Jingxu Hall gaslight Jiang by telling him that the vision Nine-Tailed showed him as he was about to execute her was a trick, and banish him until he's willing to admit it. Once Jiang learns that it wasn't a trick and that the Heavenly Master himself was behind it, he's outraged.
  • Godhood Seeker:
    • A rare heroic example. Jiang Ziya was set to be deified after he ended the Great War, wanting to become a god to protect the innocent mortals of Earth, but bungling Nine-Tailed's execution resulted in the Masters of Jingxu Hall exiling him to the frozen wasteland of Beihai. Upon learning how corrupt the Heavenly Bureaucracy is, Jiang decides that he doesn't want to be a god anymore, but undergoes apotheosis anyway out of determination to save Jiu.
    • Towards the end of the movie, Nine-Tailed reveals she had been promised deification by the Heavenly Master in exchange for instigating the Great War, only to be betrayed by the gods and sentenced to execution.
  • Going Commando: In the opening, the Nine-Tailed is naked underneath her ornate black-and-red robe.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Coupled with Good Is Not Nice on the part of the gods of Jingxu Hall, who are stern and temperamental at the best of times. Even the ruler of Jingxu Hall, the Heavenly Master, is revealed to be a Well-Intentioned Extremist who believes that in order to act in service of the greater good the gods must rid themselves of kindness and mercy; and according to Nine-Tailed is guilty of countless atrocities.
  • Godzilla Threshold: The gods of Jingxu Hall deploying a massive divine weapon that looks like a giant-sized golden guillotine to kill Nine-Tailed most definitely counts.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: During the fight between Sheng Gongbao and Nine-Tailed, the camera cuts away in a spray of blood when the Fox Devil presumably delivers a killing blow to him.
  • Grand Theft Me: Nine-Tailed is indicated to have taken over Daji's body using the Lock of Destiny to bind their souls together, but after Nine-Tailed's botched execution Daji's soul regains her original body and absorbs some of the Fox Devil's power along with it.
  • Grappling-Hook Pistol: Jiang Ziya uses the Whip of Heaven like this a couple of times in the movie.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: It's revealed that the Heavenly Master linked Nine-Tailed to Daji with the Lock of Destiny and tricked her into starting the Great War with the promise of godhood. He then reneged on this by ordering Jiang Ziya to execute Nine-Tailed and dismissed Nine-Tailed revealing her link to Daji as a lie in order to teach him that gods must be without compassion in order to act for the greater good.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Twice in the movie.
    • When Nine-Tailed is revealed to still be alive, Four-Alike assumes its true form to fight her and is mortally wounded, succumbing to its injuries after carrying Jiang, Jiu, and Shen to safety.
    • Towards the end of the movie, Shen sacrifices himself to hold back Nine-Tailed so that Jian can take Jiu to the Ruins of Return.
  • Holy Hand Grenade: The divine instrument is a massive golden guillotine formed from divine energy, and is capable of obliterating a target's body and soul. The Golden Masters use it to execute Nine-Tailed's physical body at the beginning of the film, and after she reconstitutes herself and merges with the vengeful spirits of the other Fox-Devils they unleash it in the mortal realm — with the result being akin to a nuclear explosion or meteor impact.
  • Home of the Gods: Jingxu Hall is a massive palace located in the Celestial Realm, and is populated by various Immortals and minor gods, a court of gods called the Twelve Golden Masters, and ruled over by the supreme deity known as the Heavenly Master (or Revered Master in the subtitles).
  • Hope Spot: Towards the end of the movie, Nine-Tailed absorbs the vengeful spirits of the other Fox Devils in a bid to get revenge on the gods, who drop the divine instrument — a massive celestial guillotine — on her in order to destroy her soul. Jiang tries to free Jiu from the amalgam of vengeful spirits, but is overwhelmed... until he undergoes apotheosis and becomes a god, breaking the Lock of Destiny. Just as it looks Jiang is going to rescue Jiu and they'll be able to live happily ever after as a father and daughter... the divine instrument cleaves Jiu in half and reduces her soul to motes of light, turning the idyllic field and lake where the Ruins of Return were located into an ashen crater.
  • Horned Humanoid: The Heavenly Master and the Nine-Tailed's human form have horns, but otherwise appear more-or-less human.
  • Identity Amnesia: Jiu doesn't remember anything about her past prior to waking up in the ruins of the Great War. It's revealed she's actually the real Su Daji, who was bound to Nine-Tailed by the Lock of Destiny by the Heavenly Master himself, enabling the Fox Devil to take on Daji's form while also imbuing Daji with a portion of Nine-Tailed's power.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Poor Xiao Jiu suffers this twice at the hands of King Zhou and Nine-Tailed respectively.
    • First she was captured by the completely deranged King Zhou and was subjected to his creepy words and gestures.
    • Then Jiu was captured and completely at the mercy of Nine-Tailed who forcefully took back her shard of power while stroking Jiu's face in a terrifying manner.
  • Informed Ability: Nine-Tails' illusions, which don't see much use since most of the cast is strong-willed enough to see through them.
  • Jerkass Gods:
    • The Twelve Golden Masters of Jingxu Hall are masked deities with white hair, and are as a whole lightning-tempered and quick to smite those they accuse of impudence. Despite being touted as the next ruler of Jingxu Hall, Jiang suffers the brunt of their wrath for daring to question the orders of their boss, the Heavenly Master.
    • King Zhou was made a god of marriage after his death, but is a deranged Mood-Swinger who still pines after Nine-Tailed despite everything she did to him when he was a mortal.
    • The Heavenly Master himself lied to Nine-Tailed and Jiang — promising to make the former a goddess in exchange for starting the Great War, linking Nine-Tailed to Daji so that if one died so would the other, and sending Jiang to execute Nine-Tailed in order to teach him that gods must be without kindness in order to always act for the greater good. When Jiang pleads for a way to save Daji from being bound to Nine-Tailed, the Heavenly Master tricks Jiang into taking her to the Ruins of Return saying she will be reincarnated, only for Nine-Tailed to reveal that it's a prison for the vengeful spirits of the slain Fox Devils.
  • Kitsune: The huli jing — localized as Fox Devils — of the Fox Clan were multi-tailed fox-monsters, and once sought to conquer the world under the leadership of Nine-Tailed. Thought to have been hunted to extinction in the wake of the Great War, it's revealed that their vengeful spirits were sealed beneath the Ruins of Return.
  • Last of His Kind: Nine-Tailed is revealed to be the last known living Fox Devil after the gods of Jingxu Hall mandated a genocide, though she herself was executed and reconstituted her physical form through sheer power and hatred.
  • Little Bit Beastly:
    • Shen Gongbao has a feline tail, highlighting his ability to transform into a tiger-like beast.
    • Many of the immortals and demons exiled to Beihai have bestial features such as animal ears, horns, and claws.
    • Jiu has a pair of fox-ears, which routinely get her mistaken for being a Fox-Devil. This is due to Daji possessing a shard of Nine-Tailed's power, and they disappear when Nine-Tailed reclaims it.
  • Mad God: King Zhou was made a god of marriage after his death, but is still deranged and maniacal due to Nine-Tailed having corrupted him in-life.
  • Magic Nuke: The divine instrument is a massive golden guillotine conjured by the gods of Jingxu Hall and used to execute demons. When unleashed in the mortal world to destroy the Nine-Tailed once-and-for-all, its impact is like a meteor and blasts a massive crater into the field where the Ruins of Return were located.
  • Magic Staff: Jiang wields a mystical staff called the Whip of Heaven. While it looks like an ordinary branch most of the time, arcane symbols appear on it when he channels his power into it. In addition to using it as a quarterstaff and spear, Jiang often uses it as a fishing rod and grapnel by projecting a thread and hook of mystical energy from it. If viewers are careful enough with a Freeze-Frame Bonus. Jiang's mystical staff is actually his divine sword albeit in another form, transformed by the Heavenly Master.
  • Meaningful Name: Four-Alike's name is quite fitting, as it looks like the combination of a cat, deer, fox and puppy.
  • Minorly Mentioned Myths and Monsters: While most viewers will easily recognize Nine-Tailed as a nine-tailed fox-spirit, Four-Alike is a far more obscure divine beast from Chinese mythology — a sibuxiang.
  • Mistaken Identity:
    • Upon seeing her fox ears, the patrons of the tavern in Beihai assume that Jiu is a Fox Devil and try to kill her in order to claim the bounty leveled on them.
    • Shen Gongbao assumes that Jiu is Nine-Tailed in disguise based on the bracelet she wears around her ankle, and urges Jiang to kill her. After seeing Jiu unleash a blast of fox-magic in an attept to stop Zhou from throttling her, Jiang concludes that Jiu must be the Nine-Tailed in disguise and almost kills her as well.
  • Mix-and-Match Critter: In its true form, Four-Alike has the head and body of a deer and a wolf-like tail. In its Sleep-Mode Size, it has a catlike head and paws, rabbit ears, and tiny antlers.
  • Mood-Swinger:
    • Emperor Zhou is a Mad God who goes from smugly gloating to deranged laughter to fits of rage as a result of having been Driven to Madness in-life by Nine-Tailed.
    • The Twelve Golden Masters of Jingxu Hall can go from serenity to Suddenly Shouting while hurling bolts of divine lightning at the slightest hint of "insolence". Even Jiang Ziya — future heir to Jingxu Hall — is not exempt from their wrath.
  • My Instincts Are Showing: Shen Gongbao — who can transform into a tiger-like beast — is prone to growling and snarling when angry, and often runs on all fours.
  • Mysterious Past: It's never revealed exactly where Four-Alike came from or how it came to accompany Jiang Ziya, though most characters recognize its name as being that a legendary divine beast and are taken aback by its Sleep-Mode Size and mischevious behavior.
  • Mystical White Hair: The Masters of Jingxu Hall all have white hair, as does the supreme deity — the Heavenly Master. After becoming a god himself, Jiang's hair turns white.
  • Mood Whiplash: The ending of the film goes through this, as just as it appears Jiang has managed to free Jiu from her fate and that they can be happy together as a surrogate father-and-daughter, the divine instrument cleaves Jiu in half and reduces her to motes of light. Symbolizing this, the idyllic field and lake where the Ruins of Return were located are reduced to a smouldering crater.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Jiang Ziya's character design bears a strong resemblance to Keanu Reeves.
  • No-Sell: In the prelude, Jiang Ziya effortlessly shrugs off Nine-Tailed's nightmarish illusions. Aside from showing him a vision of Jiu, she doesn't attempt to use her illusory powers on him again afterwards.
  • Not Quite Flight: In its true form, Four-Alike can "fly" by walking in midair, sending ripples of mystical energy with each footstep.
  • Oh, Crap!: There's a couple of moments in the movie.
    • During the Great War, Nine-Tailed is shocked when Jiang Ziya is completely unaffected by her illusions.
    • Jiang Ziya and Shen Gongbao are briefly horrified when they discover Nine-Tailed is still alive.
    • Jiang Ziya again when he witnesses Nine-Tailed destroy the Ruins of Return and unleash the vengeful spirits of the slain Fox Clan to take their revenge on the gods of Jingxu Hall.
    • While the audience can't see it, but The Heavenly Master gets one when Jiang Ziya uses the Whip of Heaven to outright destroy the Heavenly Staircase to prevent the gods of Jingxu Hall from intervening in mortal affairs forever.
  • Overdrawn at the Blood Bank: In the prologue depicting the Great War, copious amounts of blood is spilled when the combatants of the armies clash against each other. Nine-Tailed is also shown gleefully playing with huge amounts of blood, showing off her sadistic nature.
  • Panthera Awesome: Shen Gongbao can transform into a tiger-like beast, and retains many catlike quirks while in human form.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Jiang gets an awesome one before his apotheosis into a god.
    Jiang Ziya: Be it gods, demons, humans, thou shall not deceive, shalt not manipulate, shalt not leave unsaved.
  • Promotion to Parent: Jiu comes to see Jiang as a father-figure late into the movie, and when he breaks the Lock of Destiny to free her from Nine-Tailed she asks if she's been reincarnated yet — Jiang having promised her a loving father when she was reborn — while crying Tears Of Happiness. Sadly, the Heavenly Master kiboshes this by obliterating Jiu's body with the divine instrument.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Nine-Tailed desires to regain her full power and destroy the gods due to them betraying her. At the end of the movie, Jiang destroys the Heavenly Staircase and seemingly destroys the Heavenly Master and his followers in retribution for them destroying Jiu's soul.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: After Jiang's hesitation to execute Nine-Tailed nearly enables the Fox Devil to escape, the other gods strip him of his divinity and banish him to the frozen wasteland of Beihai until he's ready to admit that Nine-Tailed's claim of her life being tied to an innocent mortal's was a trick... which it turns out it wasn't.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Nine-Tailed wears a long black-and-red robe during the film's prologue, where she razes Emperor Zhou's palace and battles Jiang Ziya.
  • Red String of Fate: As the God of Marriage, King Zhou is able to conjure literal red threads to bind the fates of mortals together, as well as to attack and restrain opponents. Unfortunately, he's also a Mad God as a result of Nine-Tailed having done a number on him when he was mortal.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
    • Nine-Tailed wants revenge on Jingxu Hall for the Heavenly Master having used her as a pawn and ordering a genocide against the Fox Clan, and seeks to reclaim her power from Jiu and free her brethren's vengeful spirits in order to do so.
    • Jiang Ziya's defiance against the gods of Jingxu Hall near the end of the movie, especially when he destroyed the Heavenly Staircase, can be seen as this in retaliation for them killing Jiu.
  • Say My Name: Happens quite a few times in the movie.
    • Done by Shen Gongbao when he's chasing after Jiang Ziya.
    • Jiang Ziya himself shouts Xiao Jiu's name during the climax of the movie, when he undergoes an apotheosis to become a god to save Jiu.
    • A variant of this happens with the Heavenly Master speaking Jiang Ziya's name after Jiang destroys the Heavenly Staircase.
  • Scenery Gorn:
    • Jiang Ziya and Xiao Jiu, when travelling through a desert that left in the Great War's aftermath, are shown this alongside the audience.
    • The aftermath once the divine instrument from Jingxu Hall hits the mortal landscape also counts as well.
  • Scenery Porn: Many locations within the movie are this, including Jingxu Hall, the Heavenly Staircase, and especially the Ruins of Return.
  • Secret Test of Character: When Jiang confronts the Heavenly Master over Nine-Tailed's claim that he fashioned the Lock of Destiny binding Jiu to Nine-Tailed, the Heavenly Master reveals it was a test to determine whether Jiang was worthy of becoming a god... not by sparing Nine-Tailed to save the innocent Jiu, but by ridding himself of kindness and killing them both in service of the greater good.
  • The Power of Hate: Even though Nine-Tailed lost her physical body, she was nevertheless still able to reconstitute a new physical form through her hatred for the Heavenly Master.
  • The Reveal: There at least three major reveals throughout the movie:
    • The audience gets a big one with regards to the Heavenly Master's Secret Test of Character for Jiang Ziya.
    • Jiang Ziya discovers why Nine-Tailed is so angry with the Heavenly Master when she revealed that he promised her deification but instead reneged on his promise by sending his disciples to kill her.
    • A smaller one; Sheng Gongbao reveals that he wasn't exiled in the first place, he secretly chose to follow Jiang Ziya to the mortal world without the Heavenly Master's knowledge or permission.
  • The Shadow Knows: In the prologue, as Daji walks up the staircase to her throne while Emperor Zhou's palace — and Emperor Zhou himself — burns around her, her shadow on the wall is that of her true form — a monstrous nine-tailed fox.
  • Sleep-Mode Size: Four-Alike takes the form of a small white creature with the head of a cat, rabbit ears, tiny antlers, and the tail of a fox; though it can revert to its true deer-like form if need be.
  • The Stinger: The movie has two post-credit sequences, one of which serves as a Sequel Hook.
    • In the first, the implication that Jiang was reincarnated is kiboshed, as it's revealed he was instead trapped in a place named Dujie City as well as introducing a trio of new characters who are named Lei Zhenzi, Yang Jian and Huang Tianhua respectively; though this scene is missing from the iTunes version of the movie.
    • In the second, Jiang spends hours preparing a lavish Lunar New Years feast only to be mercilessly trolled by Ne Zha.
  • Supernatural Martial Arts: Jiang Ziya and Shen Gongbao are both Immortals on the verge of attaining godhood, and augment their martial arts with Taoist magic.
  • Supernormal Bindings: Jiu is bound to Nine-Tailed by a crimson divine chain called the Lock of Destiny, such that if one of them dies so will the other. The Heavenly Master reveals that the Lock of Destiny can only be broken if Jiu reincarnates, but after becoming a god Jiang is able to break it anyway.
  • Top God: The Heavenly Master is a white-haired deity with massive antlers and alabaster-white skin, and is the supreme ruler of Jingxu Hall. Prior to his exile, Jiang Ziya was set to take his place as the lord and master of Jingxu Hall. However, the reincarnated Shen Gongbao exposits at the end of the film that even the Heavenly Master was just a cog in the Celestial Bureaucracy, and has superiors he answers to who are less-than-pleased with his actions.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The gods of Jingxu Hall deploy a divine doomsday weapon that's similar to a massive celestial guillotine to destroy Nine-Tailed's soul, regardless of collateral damage to the mortal realm. The result? The place where the god-like weapon hit was reduced to the aftermath of a meteor strike.
  • Undying Loyalty: Jiang Ziya's animal companion Four-Alike is extremely loyal to him, always staying by Jiang's side no matter what happens to the point of making a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Villain Has a Point: During a dream-like sequence, Nine-Tailed tells Jiang Ziya that as long as the Lock of Destiny exists, he would not be able to save anyone since the gods would have a way to control both mortal beings and demons. This causes Jiang to realize that the Heavenly Staircase is one of the ways the gods of Jingxu Hall exert their influence over the mortal world. As long as there is a route to meet the gods, it would be inevitable that someone else (like Nine-Tailed) will take it and become a pawn.
  • Vengeful Ghost: While travelling through a desert left in the wake of the Great War, Jiang Ziya and Jiu stumble across an old battlefield and disturb the restless spirits of the soldiers who perished there. The ghosts possess the skeleton of a long-dead monster and rampage until Jiu is able to pacify them with a bone windchime she stole from a nearby memorial site.
  • You Don't Look Like You: In Ne Zha, Shen Gongbao was a thin, sinister middle-aged man with claw-like fingernails and a goatee; and was a leopard that had attained supernatural powers through Taoism. In this film, he is a buff young-looking man, clean-shaven, and can transform into a tiger-like beast — with his backstory going unexplained beyond him being a fellow pupil of the Heavenly Master alongside Jiang Ziya.