05 February 2013

Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons | Movie review

4:00 AM
Stephen Chow Journey to the West Conquering the Demons Odyssey 2013 film movie poster large keyart
Also known as Odyssey, A Chinese Odyssey 2013 or Stephen Chow's Journey to the West 2013.

Chinese Title: 西游: 降魔篇
Classification: P13
Country: Hong Kong
Language: Cantonese
Subtitles: English, Chinese
Genre: Fantasy, adventure, comedy
Running Time: 110 mins
Director: Stephen Chow & Derek Kwok
Cast: 舒淇 (Shu Qi), 黃渤 (Huang Bo), 文章 (Wen Zhang), 周秀娜 (Chrissie Chau), 羅志祥 (Show Luo)

Synopsis: "This is a world plagued by demons, causing its human inhabitants unspeakable suffering. Young demon- catcher Xuan Zang, fearlessly guided by his belief in “give myself for the greater cause”, risks his all and catches a water demon, a pig demon and the king of all demons, the Monkey King. He makes them his disciples, and reforms them with love. Meanwhile, Xuan Zang himself discovers the true meaning of the Greater Love. In order to rescue the world, and for redemption from their own sins, the four of them, without any regrets, start on the hellish journey to obtain the Buddhist scriptures from the West" (20th Century Fox Malaysia).


Verdict: A completely new twist to the Chinese classical novel but with unoriginal concept and no where as funny, deep, emotional, well-written or skillfully filmed as A Chinese Odyssey (1994), the other adaptation which Stephen Chow himself led in acting while co-directing. It seems like a cheap and rushed production to earn quick bucks from people in festive mood. Heck, they couldn't even confirm the English title until recent weeks. The film starts off intriguingly like a horror thriller before showing glimpses of Chow's signature slapstick humour but ends abruptly as expected, with many question marks. Too much to tell, too little time with just one film. What's worse is that the CG is like Playstation 2 graphics at best, and that there's practically no character development. However, even with all that being said, Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons may be the most amusing Chinese New Year film from Hong Kong in years. How sad is that?

Second opinion: "Stephen Chow promised that the film'd have a lot of mou lei tao humour but it turned out short; plus, the makeup and the CG suck big time" (Iris Loong).

Shamelessly...  the soundtracks from A Chinese Odyssey (1994) are recycled, including the classic tune from the ending of Part 2: Cinderella (一生所爱). Not only they've got Shu Qi's poor singing to ruin it, they've also raped the song in one of the unfunny scenes in the movie. Whoever's idea this was, fuck you.

Lookalikes: Is the person who plays Sun Wukong (Huang Bo) in any way related to the Beyond's guitarist (Paul Wong)? They have significant resemblance!

Huang Bo looks like Paul Wong

Shu Qi's forever bad pronunciations: Goodness sake, after so many years of acting in Hong Kong, why is her Cantonese-speaking still so poor?! She never fails to annoy when she's not naked.

Rating: 2 / 5

[SPOILER SECTION BEGINS HERE]

The ending: Just for the sake of some action, the three glory-hunting demon hunters appears out of no where to take turns to fight the Monkey King (Huang Bo), who just managed to trick Xuan Zang (Wen Zhang) into releasing him from his 500-year imprisonment. After destroying them rather easily, the Monkey King sets his eye on Xuan Zang. Miss Duan (Shu Qi), whose love for Xuan Zang was never accepted to this point of the film, comes to the rescue but of course, gets trashed as well. In her dying breathes, Xuan Zang tells her that he loves her and takes her weapon, the golden ring, and wears it as a wedding ring. Immediately after that, he transforms into a monk (despite committing sins?!) with an invincible body which the Monkey King cannot harm. The Buddha appears and presses the Monkey King down with his gigantic palm (again) before the scene, out of sudden, cuts to a different location with Monkey King in human form looking somewhat confused or afraid (I'd be very confused, dafuq). He kneels down in front of Xuan Zang, who places Miss Duan's golden ring around Monkey King's head (like we didn't see that coming). Back at the town, Xuan Zang's master tells him to take Monkey King, KL Hog and Water Demon on his journey to end all sufferings in the world. Not only that it's not explained who this master of his is, it's also not explained how he managed to "tame" all the three demons to become Xuan Zang's disciples. The film ends with Xuan Zang picturing Miss Duan in the skies while walking in the desert with his three new disciples.

Wouldn't it be a better twist if... Miss Duan is revealed at the end to be Guanyin who's been testing Xuan Zang all along? Having love relationships and lying are two of the five sins in Buddhism, which is why it doesn't make any sense in the movie where Xuan Zang transforms into a monk after telling Miss Duan that he loves her. Completely ignoring the teachings of Buddhism is probably intentional though. In other adaptations, Guanyin takes multiple human forms to make contact with human beings and set up challenges for those she approaches to see if they're the right person for the important pilgrimage.

Journey to the West twisted film movie adaptations posters

[SPOILER SECTION ENDS HERE]


Special thanks to 20th Century Fox Malaysia & Nuffnang for the invitations to the screenings.

12 comment(s):

  1. Oh, so it's Cantonese. :D
    I was made to believe it's in Mandarin when I look around

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  2. In forbidden kingdom, if the white kid is xuan zhang, that makes Jackie Chan the pig or water demon? hahahaha.... i watched the trailer and realized that shu qi still has the taiwanese cantonese accent. What kind of standard is that? I rather rewatch all the episodes of Journey to the west by dicky cheung rather than this. Anyway, I am looking fwd for the monkey king by donnie yen :)

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  3. @.@~ 2/5 only~ yeah, i think remember the first monkey kind stephan chow do, still the most funniest for me~

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  4. "She never fails to annoy when she not naked" <--- LOL!! and im going to watch this tonight =__= gonna buy Large popcorn and concentrate in eating instead then.

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  5. I CAN NEVER AGREE MORE WITH SHU QI'S VERDICT!

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  6. "She never fails to annoy when she not naked" LMAO!!! Hahahahhahahahhaha.... OMG my cheek hurts!

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  7. OK I'm not gonna watch this. I watched Les Miserables today and it was awesome! Can't stand HK movies anymore!! And also can't stand Shu Qi's pronunciation!!

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  8. I kinda liked the whole film . . . except the ending . . .

    sigh Shu Qi . . . so suay la u XD

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  9. no one can put up a logical theory over a film by stephen chow. If you put sense to his film. you re totally ruining it. dude, just enjoy every little bits of love of the film.

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  10. @Henry Jackie Chan was neither. His role was a non-relevant character that's created just for him to appear in the film.

    @RyanFoo I totally get what you mean but it's not sufficiently nonsensical or in any way funny enough so I seek for a meaning or message, which most of his films link to the ending. But there is none here.

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  11. the movie is a masterpiece and I enjoyed seeing it and looked back a few times understanding more and more the deeper layers.

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