Feature FilmInternet Television

Weinstein Co. Releases ‘The Guardian Brothers’ On Netflix

Without any advance publicity or notice, The Weinstein Company quietly slipped the Chinese animated feature The Guardian Brothers onto Netflix last Friday.

It was originally released on January 1, 2016, in China as Little Door Gods, marking the debut production of Beijing’s Light Chaser Animation. The ambitious production aimed to lift the quality of Chinese cg animation and push it closer to Western standards. Light Chaser owner Gary Wang, the Chinese web entrepreneur who made his fortune by creating the video sharing site Tudou, wrote and directed the film.

Weinstein’s English version added a cast that includes Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, Edward Norton, Mel Brooks, Dan Fogler, Mike Birbiglia, Bella Thorne, and Randall Park. The English dub is also heavily edited, running 86 minutes compared to over 100 minutes for the original (conflicting online sources put the original running time at either 103 or 107 minutes). Having seen a subbed-version of the original, I can confirm that it had a lot of pacing issues and needed editing, though it’s hard to say whether the Weinstein version fixes the issues with the original.

Rooted in the traditions of Chinese folklore, Guardian Brothers follows two guardian spirits – Yu Lei (Norton) and Shen Tu (Fogler) – who venture out of spirit-world retirement to help a mother and daughter whose restaurant is being sabotaged by a competitor.

The Weinstein Company released Guardian Brothers through its new kids’ label Mizchief. It also has another animated film, Leap!, currently in U.S. theaters through the label.

The Guardian Brothers was animated by a predominantly Chinese crew, but a few of the lead artists had U.S. experience, including Colin Brady (Pixar, Pixomondo) and Han Lei (DreamWorks). Light Chaser is currently working on its second feature, Tea Pets.

Netflix has made the film available in a total of 20 countries, including Australia, Canada, Mexico, U.K., New Zealand, India, Philippines, and Russia.

The poster for the original Chinese version "Little Door Gods."
The poster for the original Chinese version “Little Door Gods.”