Sun Wukong 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.
The film never slows down or bores, plunging from one harrowing sequence to the next.
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Through painfully honest and emotional moments, the movie becomes irresistibly relatable
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We have watched this film 7 times now and it gets better every time. The Monkey King was heroic in this film and exactly the way Sun-Wukong should be portrayed as. Donnie Yen has incredible skills and has great action scenes throughout the film. My kids all now own Blu-Rays and the film has said to be a traditional watch every Chinese New Year. This film was very entertaining and was worth the wait. The special effects were fantastic and it pulls you in from the first scene of the movie. I have to say for an actor I definitely see this as a trademark performance in Donnie Yen's Career.I highly recommend this movie for all age groups.
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The Monkey King: or perhaps more fittingly- how not to utilise your slew of fan-favourite, award-winning actors/actresses, sky-rocket budget and effort- lackluster at best.For those who have no knowledge of the tale or are simply looking for a dumb, uproarious, action romp- look no further- as senseless as it is it should entertain fine.I must warn those people that know of the original tale, or those who are looking for a blockbuster film done right- consider slamming yourself under a mountain for 500 years before seeing this cinematic atrocity. Forget the juvenile acting, forget the meagre costumes, forget even the headache- inducing CGI-fest: what truly went wrong with this 'Journey to the West' adaption is the storytelling and story itself.Spoilers Below: The adaption fails to create a journey worth investing in, opting for a show of big name actors that bring nothing to the table. The very essence of the story that consolidated it into Chinese legend for over 400 years was flagrantly overlooked- instead of keeping the spirit and notions of the classic, the adaption changes the very themes of the story into some Frankenstein's's monster. Most offensively, is the fact that 'The Monkey King' was cheaply converted into a much- clichéd prophesy story, which entirely misses the point of the monkey king's free will and rebellion towards heaven: in arrogance, and just because he can. Or the fact that Master Puti seeks our protagonist out after been notified by higher-ups- completely robbing the monkey king of his determination, direction and growth.The worst out-of-characterisation, is perhaps in the end, where Sun Wukong obediently and matter-of-factly accepts his defeat, and accepts punishment under the mountain. What. Famous characters are flagrantly misrepresented. There is a line between 'reimagining' characters and 'completely butchering them beyond recognition'Princess Iron Fan is not a submissive house wife. Bull Demon King is not a calculating, all-powerful contender for the heavenly throne. Er Lang Shen is not a scheming, political traitor. The Jade Emperor is not a tolerant, liberal, front line ruler. And for Buddah's sake, Sun Wukong, the Monkey King should not have a romantic interest.By no means am I implying that the only way to achieve an adaption is a word by word transcription of the original old text, changes must inevitably be made. But no thematic adaption has missed the point so completely like 'The Monkey King.'There are many things amiss in this movie attempt, but other than the stated above, the movie simply fails to engage. No emotional connection is made with any character, save perhaps the lead in the very least.Donnie Yen, I still love you, you tried, really. Everyone else...under the mountain.
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Before starting my review, I would like to state that I grew up on old Hong Kong series. I have experienced many versions of Journey to the West, including the 1986 version(the one I enjoyed most).I have seen many bad reviews on this movie due to it's over-the-top cgi, bad translations, and poor plot. With the exception of bad translation, I have to disagree with the other two points.The CGI is a bit over exaggerated, but the viewer has to accept the movie's setting before they can actually enjoy the ride. It is not your every day thriller, but more of a mythology. Although there are a few scenes with 1-2 seconds flash of unpolished CGI, the CGI overall is not bad at all. Tying back to my experiences with Hong Kong series, most of them had aerial flights, small styrofoam explosions, and clunky lasers, but it did not deter me from how the series were overall great. As a recap, don't look at the CGI as a turn off, but enjoy it as an enhancement to your epic ride.The plot was a well condensed version of Journey to the West series. These series were often countless episodes, which is fine because they cater to a certain type of audience. However, The Monkey King(2014) is adapted and made for younger and foreign audiences. The film gives you the typical plot with the struggle of good and evil and eventually the good winning the fight.Yes, like other epics, the movie shows the up-and-coming of the hero(sun wu kong) that eventually triumphs evil, but the film has many underlying Chinese philosophies that can be realized with a little bit knowledge about Bhuddism, the dominant religion in Asia (where the movie was made). The end fight when Sun Wu Kong was hit on the head with his own weapon was literally a slap on the head for him to look back at his actions. That split of a second, which could be an indefinite amount of time for a deity, Chang'e taught him (with very bad translations) the costs of immortality.Enough of the philosophy talk and lets move on into the fun winks to the audience that have had the opportunity to watch the Journey to the West series. From the 72 tricks and 3 knocks on the head Sun Wu Kong received from his master to the released of the horses in heaven, there are many scenes where the movie stay true to the original series. Off course the film had to have it's own taste on the story, but it never deviates too far from the original. Events may be out of placed, but they were in the movies at specific time slots that would make sense to the new twist on a classic story.My tip before watching the movie is to just be open minded about the culture and have a fun time.
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I really enjoyed this movie despite its obvious shortcomings. It it a good live-action remake of the 1965 animated feature of the same name (well worth checking out if you're a fan of art films). Donnie Yen does OK as the lead but western fans of his previous films may be left confused and/or disappointed a long time before the 120 mins of 'Fantasy Action' ends - It really helped that I was already familiar with the story as a lot happens in that time. I wonder how the second part will compare with the excellent Journey To The West: Conquering the Demons (2013) as the story from that follows this one - that's not a spoiler is it?