After seeing Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in 1937, the Wan Brothers in China were inspired to created their own feature-length film in 1941. Princess Iron Fan was the result, China's first feature-length animated film.
STORY - 7/10
Based off of the Journey to the West from the sixteenth century, it follows the Buddhist priest Tripitaka and his three bodyguards Monkey, Pigsy, and Sandy as they come across a cruel buffalo-headed king who controls a mountain of fire and his wife who has the only item that will allow them to pass - a magic iron fan. Monkey has to defeat the princess in
order to quench the flames and save the villagers. All in all, it's a pretty predictable adaptation of Journey to the West, and nothing really stands out as creative.
ART - 6/10
For 1941, the animation is neither very good or bad. It features a odd mixture of rotoscoped animation (the tracing of live-action footage) and traditional, clunky and stilted animation. The rotoscoping was done to save time and money, and it was actually used to a pretty good effect in the film and the result is very smooth animation. The problem is that it sticks out like a sore thumb every time it's used because it contrasts with the clunky animation everywhere else. The backgrounds are beautiful though, and some of the effects animation with fire and wind is pretty impressive.
SOUND - 5/10
Pretty standard 40's soundtrack. Nothing spectacular. The voice acting could be better as well, as it's pretty much non-stop yelling. A few songs are thrown in for good measure (probably a result of Snow White's influence on the Wan Brothers) but they're basically just a stop to the story and don't really add much.
CHARACTER - 5/10
The Monkey King character was actually pretty likeable, despite being slightly predictable. Most of the other characters are pretty one-dimensional, however.
ENJOYMENT - 7/10
I enjoyed it, but I was watching for the historical aspect, it being China's first animated feature film. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone as a film on its own, though, as it's not very interesting and hard to watch at some points.