Final Frontier, director HANZOHANZO and CGI studio Sehsucht created the launch film for Naraka Championship, the live e-sports tournament for players of the new Naraka: Bladepoint game.
Naraka: Bladepoint is a battle royale PC game launched in August 2021 by 24 Entertainment under technology company NetEase. Taking place against the backdrop of the battle between two ancient gods – Sunwing and Moonbane - the game tells the story of heroes from all over the world coming to the legendary Morus Isle to compete for the immortal mask.
The trailer introduces us to Viper Ning, a blademaster of Kunlun, who meditates in her dojo, visualising prospective opponents in ethereal dreamscapes, before realising her destiny is to duel with the warrior monk Tian Hai. As a storm rages, the two exchange fierce blows on the gargantuan back of Moonbane, writhing between the swoops and dives of a colossal, flaming Sunwing. The film ends on an image of the two massive beasts poised for battle, indicating an imminent clash between the warriors of the worlds.
Naraka Championship 2022 is the inaugural edition of the international e-sports tournament. The preliminary rounds started in November, and the live final was held from Jan 13th to 16th. Covid-19 restrictions ultimately saw the event moved online and streamed globally.
Final Frontier executive producer Chris Colman says: “The Netease team were collaborative and open-minded from day one, which meant we were able to shape the storyline and the creative approach together. And Hans and the team were passionate from the moment we shared the brief, throwing their hearts and souls into it. I think ultimately it was these factors that laid the foundation upon which we could build this awesome production.”
Director HANZOHANZO shares his reflections on the production:
Naraka features epic world-building and a wide range of big characters and we always wanted to capture that in our film. Though we were free to envision our own narrative, the developers provided us with loads of background info and material about the game. Since our film promotes the first world championship tournament, it had to convey the ultimate sense of "there can only be one”. That led us to the idea of creating a story around two of the most iconic characters of the game, Viper Ning and Tian Hai, each championing one of the god-like creatures that rule over the Naraka world. While Viper puts herself in deep mediation to find her nemesis, the film culminates in the inevitable battle of Yin versus Yang.
My first impulse is Moonbane, the dragon, roaring, then Viper emerging from the mist, dashing forward. But as a huge fan of Zhang Ziyi in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, I love how Viper recovers from her first missed attack and turns towards us again, holding up her sword like a true wushu master. It’s a small scene, but I think it’s been incredibly well executed by our animators.
This has been a project from the heart from start to finish. All parties involved, from the developers to all producers and artists, invested an incredible amount of passion, skill and energy. I think the whole team can be proud of their work. We’ve learned so much from this - and the next shot will be even better.