|JOURNEY TO THE WEST (XI YOU XIANG MO PIAN) (director/writer: Stephen Chow/Derek Kwok; screenwriters: story by Wu Cheng'en/Huo Xin/Wang Yun/Fung Chih Chiang/Lu Zheng Yu/Lee Sheung Ching/Ivy Kong; cinematographer: Choi Sung Fai; editor: Chan Chi Wai ; music: Raymond Wong; cast: Shu Qi (Miss Duan), Wen Zhang (Xuan Zang), Huang Bo (Sun Wukong, a.k.a. the Monkey King), Show Lo (Prince Important), Bingqiang Chen (KL Hogg); Runtime: 109; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Stephen Chow/Derek Kwok; Magnolia Pictures; 2013-China-in Mandarin with English subtitles)|
|"It makes good use of computer
animation and slapstick action comedy."
by Dennis Schwartz
Hong Kong actor-director Stephen Chow ("Kung Fu Hustle"/"C.17"/"Shaolin Soccer") and Derek Kwok co-direct and co-write this comedy, horror and martial arts pic, that's based on the legendary 16th-century Chinese novel by Wu Cheng'en. Chow reportedly took over direction from Derek Kwok midway through the shoot. The film, though little seen in the States, was a big hit in China. It's a story that has been adopted to movies many times. It makes good use of computer animation and slapstick action comedy.
ancient China the hopelessly inept mop-haired demon
hunter Tang Sanzang (Wen Zhang), a Buddhist acolyte,
tries and fails to get the evil out of the demons
via a Buddhist nursery rhyme book, something he uses
as a guide to do his tracking. He's helped by a
tomboyish huntress, Miss Duan (Shu Qi,), who rescues
the mission by taking charge in a deathly restaurant
run by a treacherous, shape-shifting boar demon
known as KL Hogg (Bingqiang Chen).
The experienced demon hunter Miss
Duan, who is in love with Tang and hopes to win him
over, keeps popping up to help the out of his league
Tang overcome other obstacles on his trip. Tang,
only interested in spiritual salvation, shuns her love
and decides to travel to the five-finger mountain to
meet the Monkey King (Huang Bo) to learn the master's
secrets about the Buddhist scriptures. The Monkey
King, however, has another agenda, as he severely
tests Tang's beliefs.
battle scenes with the likes of a giant fish
monster, a pig demon and a murderous monkey who’s been
imprisoned in a mountain for 500 years, are all fun
and excellently choreographed. The technically
top-notch pic is also a high energy one and deserves
an audience in the West. It does a good balancing act
of mixing in crowd-pleasing slapstick set pieces with
weighty philosophical questions about attaining
enlightenment, and offers a warning of being blind to
REVIEWED ON 12/6/2014 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ