Movie review: Journey to the West – Conquering the Demons (2013)


Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons is an action comedy film directed by Stephen Chow and Derek Kok which is loosely based on re-interpretation of popular Chinese novel ‘Journey to the West’. I missed out this movie at the time when it was released during Chinese New Year few months ago. Finally, I got to watch it, but it’s in Mandarin version. Anyway, I can still understand mostly what they are talking about.

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This is one of Stephen Chow’s major project after CJ7. However, for this film, Stephen Chow decided not to act in this one, but rather staying off screen for directing effort which he did mostly to his recent films. This ‘Journey to the West’ also had a very successful box office record particularly in mainland China on which it is very well received. But after watching this film yesterday, I don’t think this is great. And I’m sure it’s not one of Stephen Chow’s masterpiece too compared to his previous classic comedy works.

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Yes, this film is quite entertaining. I like the beginning part where there’s a village threatened by a dangerous demon-possessed monster within the lake that introduces us to the main characters and indicates to us what the movie would be all about later on; demon-hunting. In the first part, there is quite a suspense and few notable comedic moments expected since this is a work by Stephen Chow eventhough he is not literally in the film. But then, as the story progresses to the clan of Duan (by Shu Qi) and the part involving Sun Wu Kong (the Monkey King by Huang Bo) in the later part of the film, everything gets dull and boring already. It started out very well, but goes downhill till the end.

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That is quite disappointing. And then, I find there is too much emphasis on CGI effects. I believed a lot of money is put into it, but it didn’t turn out to be in excellent quality either. Some parts even look like the visual effects are made cheaply. Luckily, there is still Shu Qi that save the day. I find there is a certain magic in her that makes people to like to see her in films. Wen Zhang, a mainland actor also did very well as Tang Sanzang. Good selection of casts, but poor script and lack of comedy which I’m very expecting from Stephen Chow’s work. There isn’t much hilarious scenes from this one. I expected it to be much funnier and interesting but in reality, it’s not. I prefer this film to have Stephen Chow as part of the casts. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons’ a total of 6.7.

Last but not least, I find that Stephen Chow doesn’t like to be on screen in his recent films already. How come? But nowadays, he looks so much older already with a lot of white hairs visible. We are missing his appearance in movies. I can still remember his many notable classic comedy films; Fight Back to School franchise, God of Gamblers 2, Forbidden City Cop, Justice My Foot, Flirting Scholar, God of Cookery, Shaolin Soccer, Kung Fu Hustle, CJ7. Still looking forward to his future projects too eventhough this ‘Journey to the West’ isn’t that great.

(All images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

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