Movie review: The Monkey King (2014)

‘The Monkey King’ is one of the few Chinese New Year films from Hong Kong this year. The movie’s title is self explanatory that it is based on the highly popular Chinese literary classic named ‘Journey to the West’. The movie starred Donnie Yen (as the titular protagonist), Aaron Kwok, Chow Yun Fat, Joe Chen, Peter Ho, Kelly Chen, Gigi Leung, etc. ‘Journey to the West’ had been my childhood’s favourite, and there has been several film adaptations made in recent years based on this classic.


Last year, we saw the success of ‘Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons’ directed by Stephen Chow, and the movie was also released during the Chinese New Year. This year, we had another one, named ‘The Monkey King’ by different director. Comparing these two, I think this year’s one is slightly better in my opinion. At least ‘The Monkey King’ goes on a story (I’m okay with slight difference to original literature) and direction that everybody is familiar with once people mentioned ‘Sun Wukong’. ‘The Monkey King’ tells the story of how Sun Wukong grows to become the legendary Monkey King and later was used by the Bull Demon King to rebel against Jade Emperor at the Heaven.

The first thing on my mind that I want to comment about this film is on its visual effects. I believed most of the 80 million USD budget were allocated to the CGI effects. I couldn’t say it is a disappointing outcome but I think the production team overdo on the visuals. Over 90% of all the scenes in this film has to be heavily edited, and it is unnecessary. For legendary classic story like this, CGI is mandatory but should not be overly used. In the end, the result is unrealistic looking. But still I would give credit to the visual effect’s team. They put in immense effort.



BG_The Monkey King 2014 movie Still 4

For performance, Donnie Yen did a good job. I can see that he did put emotions and ‘life’ to the Sun Wukong’s character eventhough his face is mostly covered with furs. Aaron Kwok as the Bull Demon King and Chow Yun Fat as the Jade Emperor were not bad too. No comment on the actresses as their roles were very minimal here. Kelly Chen only appeared in two brief scenes, one in the beginning and one at the end as the Goddess of Mercy. Great work on the costumes too. But I think Jade Emperor’s outfit is too simple.

The movie also delivered huge number of action-packed scenes and I am quite enjoyed, especially when Sun Wukong wreaks havoc at the Heaven and has to deal with Jade Emperor and finally battling it out with the Bull Demon King once he realized the latter fooled him. There are serious intense scenes but also there are light and humor-filled moments. Overall, this movie is interesting and entertaining. Better than ‘Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons’ last year in almost all aspects. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘The Monkey King’ a total of 7.2. The movie is now becoming one of the highest grossing Chinese films in history. I heard due to its success, they are planning to make a sequel. Okay.

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



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