Journey To The West is the most strange and bizarre film I have seen in a very long time, but it is also great fun! It has already become one of the highest grossing films in China’s history and has been a big hit whenever it has screened in the Far East.
The story gets off to a great start involving a fake demon hunter, a fake water demon and a Taoist monk all who fail to help the small fishing village. But the day is saved by a real demon hunter Duan (Shu Qi). The monk and Duan then set out to find the Monkey King, fighting Demons along the way and eventually facing their ultimate challenge. UK viewers who may be familiar with the Japanese TV adaptation Monkey may like to know that this is a prequel to the events in that series and shows how the characters became who they are.
To give more away would be to spoil it for those that have yet to see director Stephen Chow return to form after the disappointing CJ-7, although he does not star in the film, his directorial touches and humour make this his best work for many years. Shu Qi steals the film as the tomboy demon hunter who falls for the trainee monk and tries her best to make him fall in love with her. The supporting cast all do well in their roles and the story is told at such a breakneck pace and although the film is nearly 2 hours long it flies by.
The film is full of CGI special effects as you can imagine given the subject matter and although a few are a bit below par it all adds to the charm of the film. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a kids movie. Although kids will enjoy it, it does get very violent and dark at times so you have been warned. If this film gets picked up for a Western release, I dread to think of what the distributors will do with it and what cuts would be made, so my advice is to view it in the cinema if possible if not then see it when it does get released on DVD / Blu ray in Hong Kong.
While it might not be for everyone, Journey To The West Conquering The Demons is definitely the most fun I have had watching a film in ages, great action and comedy, I laughed out loud a number of times (although not being Chinese, I’m sure a lot of the humour and jokes passed me by!).
Stephen Chow has made a great movie and lets ‘s hope it is not too long before he gets behind a camera again. Recommended.
8 out of 10