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TVB Drama review: Recipes to Live By (2017)

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2017 by vincentloy

‘Recipes to Live By’ (味想天開) is a 2017 historical comedy drama from Hong Kong by TVB with food as the theme. Having 25 episodes, the story centers on Ding Yat-san, a poor village boy who is a foodie and has a ‘golden tongue’ (can identify all ingredients in a tasted food) and later discovered that he is the son of the God of Cookery. He then investigates the past accusation against his father that got him killed. The drama starred Tony Hung, Sisley Choi, Rebecca Zhu, Hugo Wong, Ram Chiang, Mary Hon, Stephanie Ho, Toby Leung, Maria Cordero, etc.

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It has been such a long time since TVB last produced a series with food as the theme. Hence, this one got me interested eventhough I’m not that satisfied with the cast. With food as the theme, I’m expecting to see a lot of nice dishes, tricks and cooking competitions throughout the series. Yes, I do see them in this drama but they are not exciting as hoped. The story then swifts to many other directions to cover other smaller plots. That is necessary to keep the series going with more things to catch up. However, the excessive use of plot twists especially near the end of the series which are supposed to make the drama more exciting to watch turned out to be quite anti-climatic. They also forcefully put in too many unnecessarily tragic, ‘misunderstanding’ and ‘curse effect’ storyline to the characters in this drama. I’m annoyed when they are too many. Anyway, overall, the drama still has a decent storyline that goes back to the food theme.

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As for the cast and their performances, my expectation is right. Tony Hung is not a good actor and giving him the first male lead role here is a bad decision. There is still much for him to learn in acting. I think he did his best but there is something not right to his expression. Similar issue goes to the first female lead that goes to Sisley Choi. However, I find that she has at least improved. Anyway, I just don’t like her for being too thin and tiny, and having a sharp voice. Just not the right person for a leading lady role. Rebecca Zhu and Hugo Wong are both great in their supporting roles (or I shall say second leading roles). I hardly notice Hugo in the past but after seeing this and also in ‘Burning Hands’ where he is also involved, I think he is one underrated actor. Other veteran cast are great and I wish to highlight on Lee Kwok-lun who portrayed the main villain here. He is one excellent actor and is especially good in taking on bad roles. TVB should honours him with at least a professionalism or a supporting actor award soon.

This drama is worth to watch when you have nothing else to do. It is not a great series but still good enough with some comedic, touching and suspenseful moments. The only problem is the leading cast (Tony and Sisley). Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Recipes to Live By’ a total of 7.0.

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

 

 

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Less than a month left to Rio 2016.

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 7, 2016 by vincentloy

The Olympics is returning soon. The world’s biggest sporting event, the Summer Olympic Games which is held once in every four years, will be back this year. The 31st Olympiad which will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from 5th to 21st of August 2016 is now less than a month away. The time to catch up to some great competitions in sports from world-class athletes will be returning soon. If you didn’t know, after this Rio 2016, the next Summer Olympics will be Tokyo 2020.

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I can’t believe that London 2012 had already occurred four years ago. Time flies. I still remember I purposely woke up on midnight to watch the live broadcast of its opening ceremony alone in the living room. The ceremony was not as great as the one we saw in Beijing 2008 but was still memorable with some catchy scores and humors. Not many people like to watch this kind of ceremonies because many may find them boring and too long, but I do because I like to feel the excitement of an event that signal the beginning of an international games through breathtaking performances, impressive stadium and fireworks.

However, I didn’t have any high expectation towards the ceremonies for Rio 2016. It’s because the organizers had only allocated a shockingly little amount of money towards these ceremonies that will have over 1 billion audiences. They even stressed out that there wouldn’t be any costly presentation of technologies like light shows and they will only focus on the basics to present the Brazilian culture to the world. In the current time when technology is a must for shows, it will be a letdown seeing only ‘basics’ in opening ceremony especially for this world’s largest sporting event. But I will still want to try to watch the opening ceremony ‘live’ and I’m expecting the performances will be focusing more on highlighting Brazilian famous ‘carnivals’ with all the colourful dances. But I’m not that interested on this. Similarly to London 2012’s ceremonies which were below my expectation due to them being more of a musical shows than a real majestic ceremonies like what Beijing 2008 did, I think Rio 2016 will be more or less like London 2012. I think will be even worse than that. Beijing 2008’s ceremonies were still the best ever I had seen.

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Brazil also didn’t have a smooth time in these 7 years of preparation for the Olympics with negative issues like delay in construction of new sport venues for the games, corruption, weakening economy, harsh treatment to move people away from the new Olympic zones, Zika virus, security instability, etc. I just hope that the games will just run smooth without any major letdown. I didn’t really wish for Rio de Janeiro to host the games from the very beginning. It’s a beautiful city but I think there is many other cities out there that are more outstanding than Rio to host Olympics.

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Nevertheless, I wish all the best for Rio 2016 which will be now only less than a month away. I’m excited to watch some great competitions. I’m looking forward to support my Malaysian athletes especially in badminton. Let’s hope that our Dato Lee Chong Wei can finally win the country’s first ever gold medal this time after having won only two Olympic silver medals in the past. Also let’s put our hope on some other athletes to deliver. Hmm…it would be nice if the games is held earlier, for example like right now, as I have all the free time now to watch the games. By next month when the games started, my semester has also started.

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

10 Things Architects Want You To Know About What They Do

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2015 by vincentloy

In reality, not many people actually know what architects do for their job. People generally think of us as professional responsible in designing and drawing out the plans and detail drawings of their projects only. But actually, our scope of work is far bigger than that as we are also in charge of overseeing the construction till it’s finished and ready for occupancy. Besides that, architects also need to deal with the authority, assist on finding and recommending good suppliers or contractors, chair meetings with consultants, inspecting progress of work at site, etc. Hence, there is nothing wrong that architect charges the most fees out of all consultants in a project. We deserved it.

Recently, I came across another interesting article about architects and it has the same title as my post’s title here. I wish to share the article here;

1. We want you to be an active participant in the design process.

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While it’s true that the actual work of design is the architect’s responsibility, it is your responsibility to be upfront about your budget and expectations and to give candid feedback. Finne, who has worked for many years with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in Seattle on a program called “How to Select and Work with an Architect,” dedicates a section of his seminar to what architects and clients should expect from one another. In the workshop materials, he says the ideal client is “honest, open, flexible, realistic and decisive.” Being open to your architect’s ideas and making decisions in a timely fashion will help your project run much more smoothly.

2. We can oversee your project from beginning to end.

If you have a major home project to tackle, whether it’s a large-scale renovation or building your dream home from scratch, you may be wondering where to begin. Well, wonder no more — the first call to make should be to an architect. These pros have the skills and training needed to keep your project running smoothly, and they can coordinate the work of your entire design and construction team.

“Architects can have a role in all aspects of the project, from site selection and feasibility studies through construction observation and project closeout procedures,” says Coates. “Homeowners can negotiate the level and scope of services they are looking for with their specific project. At a minimum the architect is usually responsible for design, documentation and permitting.”

3. Our work takes us everywhere.

“We have about 50 percent of our work out of town,” says Finne, whose office is in Seattle, “so every month I take several trips to visit jobsites and meet with clients and contractors.” So if you’ve been limiting your search to pros in your immediate area, you may be able to widen that circle. See pros whose work you admire on Houzz? Don’t be afraid to contact them and ask if they take jobs in your area.

4. We do a little of everything.

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“Rarely are two days alike,” says Coates. “Some days I am traveling to a jobsite to look at design opportunities or to inspect ongoing work. Other days I spend in meetings with clients, contractors or engineering consultants. Most architects do spend a lot of time at their desks, and I am no exception. We do a lot of emailing and computer drafting.”

Finne adds, “I work on design at home every day for about one and a half hours. Then I am in the office talking with clients, contractors and my office staff. I review drawings, mark changes and corrections etc. I write the specifications for all projects. I often visit the shops of special fabricators such as steel or cabinets, and I also visit jobsites in the Seattle area. Finally, I try to spend some time on marketing every day, sending photos to various design sites, talking with magazine writers, posting on the Finne Facebook page.”

5. Looking for insight into our design sensibility? Ask who our architectural role models are.

Ask any architects you are considering hiring for your project who their design role models are, or who inspires their work. Their responses will tell you a great deal about the look and feel they aim for in their own work.

Finne, who grew up in both Norway and the U.S., is inspired heavily by the architectural traditions of Scandinavia. “Sverre Fehn, the renowned Norwegian architect, was my friend. I believe he has had a profound influence on my work,” says Finne. “I will never forget the afternoons I spent sitting with Sverre in the living room of his house on Havna Alle in Oslo. Sverre lived in a classic functionalist house designed by his teacher, Arne Korsmo. He had an uncanny ability to understand construction and materials and then imbue a certain poetical dimension to those elements.”

Finne adds, “He was also a very unassuming person and was amused when the Americans awarded him the Pritzker Prize (the Nobel Prize equivalent for architecture). ’Oh, yes,’ he said. They sent ‘top secret’ faxes and then flew into Oslo on their private jet. ‘But then, there was so much snow in many places that they could only manage to visit a few of my buildings!’”

“If Sverre Fehn has been my compass, then Alvar Aalto, the Finnish architect who is one of the giants of 20th-century architecture, has been my North Star,” Finne says. “In 1985 I lived for a year in Helsinki on a Fulbright grant and managed to see all of Aalto’s buildings several times. The Finnish architect and critic Juhani Pallasmaa was my mentor and shared many of his insights on Aalto and Finnish design.”

He continues, “Seeing Aalto’s work taught me enormous amounts about the mysteries of handling natural light and the creation of what Aalto called the interior landscape within a building. I even spent the night in a tent right next to Aalto’s church in Vuoksenniska at Imatra. The morning light was incredible!”

6. We are inspired by nature.

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Architects design buildings that bridge the private, safe, interior world of home and the outside world.So it makes sense that no matter which style your architect works in, nature is almost invariably an inspiration. “Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are surrounded by some of the most magnificent topography and natural surroundings in the world,” says Finne. “I am inspired by the natural world every day.”

7. We may be able to offer design expertise even on smaller jobs … but not always.

Homeowners are more apt to hire a contractor than an architect for smaller jobs, but are there times they should reconsider? “It depends on the job, and it depends on the architect, as you might expect,” says Coates. Most architecture firms with less than 10 people do tend to take on smaller projects, but larger firms may not.

“In general, an architect or structural engineer is required for any work, regardless of size, that affects a building’s structure or other permit-related issues, such as stairs, railings, windows etc.,” Coates says.“Regardless of the size of the job, it is important for homeowners to realize that most contractors have absolutely zero training in design. Further, it is always a good idea, no matter how large or small the job, to have someone with experience looking over the work and ensuring that it is being built correctly and in accordance with the design intent. I would encourage homeowners to hire an interior designer or an architect for any job, regardless of size.”

And from Finnes: “Architects can do very small projects, but there is a point at which the architectural fee becomes disproportionate to the construction cost. Of course, I design furniture, but that is one of my passions.”

8. We do our best to provide a pricing structure that is transparent.

Architects charge in a variety of ways:hourly (around $100 to $160 per hour, or $60 to $90 per hour for support tasks like drafting); a lump sum; a percentage of construction costs (typically 10 to 25 percent); or some combination of these methods. Most also include an initial estimate of total costs for the project. Early costs are estimated on a per-square-foot basis, with projects averaging around $200 to $500 per square foot for construction costs only. Of course, the costs also depend a great deal on average prices in the region.

Both Coates and Finne work on an hourly basis. Coates says, “I prefer this method because it allows our client the flexibility to request other services, such as more design refinements, interior design etc. without an amendment to the contract. Additionally, I prefer an hourly fee basis because I feel it is most fair to both parties. I feel it is very important to be an advocate for our clients and for them to trust that we have their best interests in mind throughout the project, and this is difficult to achieve when our fee is based on how much the project costs.”

9. We are here to translate your needs into a functional, beautiful structure that also suits the site.

In the workshop Finne teaches in conjunction with the AIA, he explains that you should turn to an architect when you want ensure that your project has beauty, utility, and economy. Architects can work with challenging sites, listen to your needs and wants, and express them in a unique design perfectly tailored to you. Choosing to go with an experienced architect from the beginning, rather than entrusting a large project to someone without design expertise or trying to DIY it can help you avoid a lot of heartache … and potentially save you money, because otherwise you may need to have faulty work redone.

10. We are with you on your journey.

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“I would say choosing an architect is a bit like choosing someone to go for a long hike with you,” says Finne. “There needs to be trust, empathy, common vision, good communication and mutual respect. When you are halfway done with the hike and many miles from home, you don’t want to be thinking, ‘How do I get rid of this person?’”

(The original source of the article written by Laura Gaskill as Houzz contributor: http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/20376965/list/10-things-architects-want-you-to-know-about-what-they-do)

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Last but not least, architects are licensed and trained professional responsible on designing our built environment. Put the trust on them, and they will deliver. That’s what they do as explained in this blog post. But we still hate deadlines.

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

Movie review: From Vegas to Macau II (2015)

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2015 by vincentloy

Oh my God! My over-a-week holiday is over! Have to get back to work tomorrow eventhough I’m still very much in holiday mood. Before beginning to stress myself with workloads waiting tomorrow onward, I enjoyed the most on this last day of my break by watching a Chinese New Year film; From Vegas to Macau II. It is a sequel to a film of the same name released on CNY last year. Chow Yun Fat returned as the main lead, while new casts were added (Nick Cheung, Carina Lau, Shawn Yue, etc). Also not to forget some very good cameo appearances from Wong Jing (director of the movie), Eric Tsang, Nat Chan, and Andy Lau.

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After foiling the criminal plans of the international money-laundering syndicate DOA, Ken (Chow Yun Fat) from Macau is ready to sit back and enjoy life. Ken’s plan for a calm existence comes to a halt when his protégé, Vincent (Shawn Yue) join Interpol and asks for his master’s help in arresting the real mastermind of DOA, Ms. Aoi. In the adventure, he is involved with former DOA accountant, Mark (Nick Cheung) and his daughter. The story looks to be interesting and explosive. And it is. The movie is full of many action-packed sequences, but that’s not an overall good thing too. Why? I’m expecting more of gamble-related happenings in the film (as the movie’s title suggested). For CNY movie, I’m not eager for actions. Fortunately, the movie delivered quite a number of hilarious spots (particularly Ken’s robot) to get us engaged into the story as it progresses eventhough with very less gamble scenes (the movie deviates away from the theme already just like the first movie too).

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However, some of the comedic substances and timing in the movie are a bit awkward and appeared ‘forced’ rather than came in naturally for a real good laugh. They tried too hard to make some jokes work, but it didn’t. Exaggerated acting by the cast also could not make it happen. Luckily, at his present age, Chow Yun Fat is still great in comedic role. Nick Cheung is also good. There are a lot of explosions and gun-fightings which for me are distracting. Like I mentioned many times already, I am anticipating more of Chow Yun Fat and the other cast displaying their skill and comedy on the casino tables rather than on gun-fights.

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The best scene in the film is during the mahjong game with Wong Jing, Chow Yun Fat, Eric Tsang and Nat Chan in the early part of the movie. But that was very short (how much I wished that the scene would last longer).

Nevertheless, the movie is still a very entertaining one and is good to watch during this festive Chinese New Year. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘From Vegas to Macau II’ a total of 7.2. I heard that this year’s CNY films are mostly bad and boring while this one is already considered the better one. So, I made the right decision by watching this then.

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

Indonesia replaced Vietnam to host the next Asian Games in 2018.

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 20, 2014 by vincentloy

While the recent 17th Asian Games, Incheon 2014 had just commenced with its extravagant opening ceremony yesterday, it is also the time when the Olympic Council of Asia has to make final decision on which city/country to host the next Asian Games. Back in few years ago, Hanoi, Vietnam had already won the bid to host the games against Surabaya,  Indonesia. However, in early this year, Vietnam confirmed that they had to pull out from hosting the games due to burdening financial problem. Hence, the Olympic Council of Asia had to re-choose, which is a bigger challenge to the new host as there is only 4-years gap before the next games. Usually, the preparation time for the next host is about 7 years after being selected.

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Originally, the 18th Asian Games is scheduled to be held in 2019, a year before the Summer Olympics as the council considered that their 4-year interval that is similar to that of FIFA World Cup. Winter Olympics, Youth Olympics and Commonwealth Games (as we observed this year that has been packed with many global sport events) would be burdening to athletes and that they thought having the Asiad a year before the Summer Olympics would be a perfect timing to see Asiad as a warm-up test before the Olympics. And so, the subsequent Asiad would be in 2019, 2023, 2027, etc, but this decision has not been finalized yet currently as they may wish to switch it back the original slot of 2018, 2022, 2026, etc.

However, Indonesia stressed to push the Asian Games back in 2018 for the 18th edition as the year 2019 is when the country has to concentrate on their presidential election. It is subsequently agreed by the Olympic Council of Asia. Since it was Vietnam and Indonesia that were in final race to bid for the games last time, hence it is very reasonable to pick Indonesia now. However, it would not be Surabaya city to host it as the city has insufficient time by now to build new venues and to prepare for the games. Hence, Jakarta, the capital of the country is selected, a city that has already been equipped with many world-class sporting facilities and had also hosted Asian Games before (back in 1962).

Congratulation to Indonesia to have won the right to host the next Asia’s biggest multi-sport event. Now, I’m wondering that how could they prepare in the closing ceremony of Incheon 2014 (just two weeks away from now) when usually there is a time slot for the next host to present what they can offer for the next games. Let’s see later. Before Indonesia is selected, there are other countries interested like India, Chinese Taipei, Malaysia, and Philippines but with worrying concerns like finances and time limitation, hence they all pulled out. So, in the end, there you go; Jakarta 2018.

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It is quite embarrassing to my country, Malaysia that has never hosted Asian Games. We are more than capable enough to host this Asian Games, seen as only a step away before setting our ambition on hosting the Summer Olympics (world’s biggest sporting event). We had hosted 1998 Commonwealth Games successfully, but thing just stopped there. The government always raised up financial problem as a reason of not bidding to host the games. Ridiculous. Is our country that poor now? You know where all the money goes. Shame, man. Even cities like Manila (Philippines), Bangkok (Thailand) – hosted four times, New Delhi (India) – hosted two times, Tehran (Iran), Doha (Qatar), Jakarta (Indonesia) – two times including 2018’s edition, Busan (South Korea), Guangzhou (China) have hosted Asiad, and not Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia). I’m still being positive of hoping that Malaysia would bid for 2023 Asian Games.

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

Movie review: How To Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2014 by vincentloy

This year is filled with great animation movies! First, we have ‘The Lego Movie’ of which many claimed had raised up a bar on the standard or quality of animated productions. Then, we have an entertaining ‘Rio 2’. And now, we have another film I can called utterly satisfying and well deserved of a huge thumbs up from me. It’s ‘How To Train Your Dragon 2’, a sequel to the first film in 2010. The first one was great, and I can assured you that this sequel is no less better (or some say, even better).

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The story starts five years after the event on the first film (have to watch the first one before continuing on this to know better on the progressing story flow and characters). Now, Hiccup and his best buddy, Toothless (Night Fury dragon) love to travel far to discover new lands, and they do…an ice cave that is home to hundreds of new wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider (whom turned out to be his mum…opps, warning…more spoiler ahead). They have also learnt of a group of people planning to control all the dragons with evil intentions, and so they have to find themselves in the center of another battle to protect the peace.

This is an interesting story. The plot as it develops is engaging and had everyone paying attention including the adults. Yes, this movie is more for the younger kids, but I’m sure the older demographics will enjoy this as much as the children too. There are some cool scenes (especially of Hiccup flying with Toothless beyond the clouds). Those moments are magical and wonderfully displayed as though I can feel the same as they are. There are also a lot of hilarious parts that are certainly making this very entertaining (but some of those are lame and cheesy). Also showing more on dragon-to-dragon interactions this time which are lovely and mostly funny to watch too. The movie also didn’t disappoints with good amount of emotions and dramatic climax scenes particularly in the end. (how good it is that Hiccup’s family is reunited as he found back his mom whom was thought to be dead earlier, but later on in this film, his dad, the chief was killed). A lot of ups and downs, that contributes to an exciting adventure for the audiences. A solid story that makes this as successful as its predecessor film.

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The visuals are great. The sound effects are good too. And I’m glad that part of the soundtrack is reusing the tracks from the previous film (but with a bit different tunes) which brings back nostalgia to this film. The voice-over performances are outstanding and the wonderful addition of new characters make this sequel fresh and captivating. It looks like there is nothing bad of this film that I can reveal. There are only some minor not-so-good issues here or there. Everything is positive generally. No wonder the film now had been receiving near universal critical acclaim. Truly deserving. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘How To Train Your Dragon 2’ a total of 8.0. (I very seldom gave a rating of over 8 points to a film). Hence, this is a remarkable achievement I gave to this animated movie. This sequel retains or even replenish the charm from the first film to another level. I’m glad that the third installment of this successful franchise is going to be out by 2016. A two-years wait.

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

Movie review: The Monkey King (2014)

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2014 by vincentloy

‘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.

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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.

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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)