Sun Wukong, (The Monkey King) is a monkey born from a heavenly stone who acquires supernatural powers. After rebelling against heaven and being imprisoned under a mountain for 500 years, he later accompanies the monk Xuanzang on a journey to India. Thus, according to legend, Buddhism is brought to ancient China. This much beloved story, is as much a part of Asian culture as The Iliad and The Odyssey or The Wizardof Oz are to the West. This first installment in a trilogy of live action 3-D movies is actually a prequel to The Journey To The West, the much told story of the Monkey King's adventures on the road to India. The Monkey King: Havoc In The Heavenly Palace will be released in the U.S. as The Monkey King. The first movie is the origins story - beginning with the birth of Sun Wukong and ending with his imprisonment for his crimes under the Five-Peaked Mountain. Along the way he acquires incredible powers... Written by Robert Harris / Global Star Productions
Cast & Credits
Adapted from the mega huge Chinese novel “Journey to the West”, this film actually followed the original novel very closely. The novel is in fact one of the fewest Chinese novels I read many years back when I was watching few other adaptations of it. This version is absolutely the closest and the most accurate one.
The film was full of several eye-catching characters, events and costumes. I know, I know; the CGI is what bothered many people about this film. Well, as long as you’re not here to watch “The Lord of the Ring” then it should be alright. It’s true that the special effects were overdone with many misses here and there but having watched several Wuxia films with immense use of CGI in my cinema watching, this doesn’t bother me at all. Actually, I considered it a cool experience with that enormous amount of CGI and wires inserted everywhere. For a normal viewer who’s not familiar with the Chinese/Hong Kong way of using CGI in their productions, it may cause a problem but as long as you’re willing to keep your mind open and accept unfamiliar styles then everything will be satisfactory after a while.
The plot wasn’t very smooth just like it wasn’t heavy either. This is a fantasy so there weren’t any traditional plot elements to follow; it was catching and involving at many phases just like other parts didn’t feel right, rushed or very slow. I am still thankful that they followed Wu Cheng En's classic very closely or I would’ve went very harsh on this Monkey King adaptation.
The acting department was full of huge names in HKC cinema. I have a little confession to make; I was actually reluctant about Donnie’s portrayal of the monkey king. When they first announced the film; I was confident that Jet Li will get to play the Monkey king again since he did a wonderful job with it before but he didn’t get the role. Donnie was casted instead and I was a bit worried. I love Donnie and I consider him one of the better HKC stars but I felt like Sun Wukong’s character doesn’t suit his acting style. Needless to say, I was proved wrong through this film. He did an amazing job with the character to make it feel very believable.
On his side were the marvelous Chow Yun Fat and the cool Aaaron Kwok in main roles. They were pretty much convincing and entertaining to watch. The remaining cast did a cool job including Peter Ho, Kelly Chen and few others. Some characters felt all over the place but it wasn’t unforgivable.
There’s isn’t much scenery to talk about since CGI were the film’s heart and soul. I don’t necessarily consider it a bad thing even though I am the type of person who heavily concentrates on cinematography while watching films. The musical note was pretty much forgettable, I don’t recall anything after finishing the film so yeah, and there you have it.
-You like HKC Wuxia productions.
-You like the classic novels of the Journey to the West because this is the closest adaptation.
-You like Donnie because he does a cool job with the Monkey King’s character here.
Do not watch if:
-You’re expecting a CGI level like in Hollywood film.
-You’re looking for something serious.
-You’re looking for something impressive.
The Monkey King took four long years of production to be finally brought to life this year. That alone deserves giving this film a go. Just try to open your horizons and think of this as an entertaining journey, because that’s the only way to appreciate this film.