Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons review

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The nature of Stephen Chow is irrepressible. With his latest movie – his first movie as director where he’s not starring, Stephen Chow has once again produced an amazing movie. For those of you who don’t know who he is (and shame on you) – go pick up Shaolin Soccer and jump on board the fanboy wagon.

This latest movie is a reimagining of the classic Chinese tale, Journey to the West. I grew up enjoying Monkey Magic, and as an adult, formed a deep appreciation for the entire story, having previously posted about Wu Ch’eng-en’s Monkey here

This movie goes back, before Monkey, Sandy and Pigsy are followers of Tripitaka, to when these famous three heroes were in fact demons themselves and needed to be subdued.

Opening with a village being plagued by a fish demon, we’re introduced to Tang Sanzang, a super scruffy (and very reminiscent of SC) Buddhist monk whose attempting to subdue the demon using children’s nursery rhymes. Though his intentions are good, his methods are seemingly useless, and despite the fact he’s returned the demon to human form, it’s the martial arts wielding Miss Duan who dispatches the demon properly, winning the praise of the village.

From the onset, the movie is Chow’s typical slapstick comedy, exhibiting a unique subtleness that is one of the primary reasons I enjoy Asian movies so much. If you’ve seen Shaolin Soccer or Kung Fu Hustle, you’ll feel right at home.

One of the things I love about Stephen Chow’s characters is that they’re often ordinary people. From the filthy Tang Sanzang, to the band of eastern mercenaries that travel with Miss Duan, they’re some of the most piss funny characters you’ll find anywhere. My highlight had to be the scenes where these eastern mercs banded together to fight the pig demon – that entire part of the movie was hillarious.

And just like in his previous movies, there’s a love story running through it which becomes really quite touching yet completely comical all at once.

The movie is natively in Cantonese and while a Mandarin dub is available, you’re best to avoid it.

But beyond that, watch this movie!

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2 Responses to “Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons review”

  1. Clark Tomlinson Says:

    Hi Marcus,

    I’m Clark, a City Weekend Digital Marketing Intern based in Shanghai. I’m looking for great expat blogs to help expand our search profile, and luckily I found yours. It seems teaching English in Wuxi helped you fall in love with China. Since we’re an expat-publication, we’d love for other expats to have a similar experience as yours where they leave the mainland, but the mainland never leaves them.

    Your wrote a great over view of Suzhou, information that would be helpful to our readers. Because of this article and others, I’d love to recommend your blog to my editors to feature.

    If you’re interested, please let me know.

    Best,

    Clark

  2. Marcus Says:

    Sure thing, but to be honest, I cant tell which comments are spam and which are legit these days.

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