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Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons - Film Review

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by Lydia C. Lee (subscribe)
Lydia C. Lee is still trying to work out what to do with her one wild and precious life. She currently is a haphazard blogger. Read more at or
Published February 28th 2013
Stephen Chow is back
If you are a Stephen Chow fan, or loved the TV Series Monkey, read no more and go and see the film. You'll love it.

If you haven't heard of Chow, who has a string of box office successes, I would first rent the brilliant Kung Fu Hustle to see his best work before venturing out to this wackier one.

This film is in 3D, which is an odd experience if you are relying on the subtitles (Chinese speakers note that Mandarin and Cantonese versions are currently showing at different cinemas, so pick the preferred language location). There is a current trend of almost overuse of CGI in this genre at the moment, and that can take a bit of getting used to. This is a warning for those trying out a new genre rather than a criticism of the film.

Once the film gets rolling, the trademark Chow comedy kicks in and some hysterically funny scenes follow. The film is based loosely on a Chinese novel that was also the basis for Monkey and many other films before and since the 1978 series . While I never watched Monkey as a kid, I still enjoyed the humour and adventure based around the demon chasing odyssey.

It's a fantasy action romance, of sorts, but primarily an entertaining comedy road movie. It covers a lot of bases but Chow seems to get it right.

I laughed throughout and was still giggling this morning at the memory of a few scenes. Special mention for the scene stealing Huang Bo, who eclipses the main characters in a very simple setting and hilarious scene. Shu Qi, the demon huntress, is always delightful and I also had no issue with Wen Zhang, who basically played Stephen Chow's role, the monk and novice demon hunter.

Given that there are four novels in this piece of literature, and that Chow is set to open a theme park based on the film, I'm guessing this is the start of a franchise. The fact that in one month it's already broken a number of box office records leaves no doubt that funding the next film will be no issue. I, for one, look forward to it.

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Why? Hilarious Chinese fantasy action movie, bound to make you laugh.
When: Check with local cinema
Where: In selected cinemas
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