• Guy Jeffries

Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back Review


Director: Hark Tsui.

Starring: Stephen Chow, Kenny Lin, Kris Wu, Tze Chung Lam, Mengke Bateer, Bei-Er Bao, Qi Shu.

One of Hong Kong's legendary Directors Hark Tsui teams up with nonsense comedic Stephen Chow. Tsui having filmed the finest in the Martial Art world, such as Van Damme, Jackie Chan and possibly most famous for directing most of the Once Upon A Time In China saga with Jet Li. Stephen Chow is best know for starring in those silly yet entertaining comedies, Kung Fu Hustle and Shaolin Soccer.

It's a sequel to a film I haven't seen, which Chow himself directed, Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons, but is still based on the great 16th century titular novel by Ming dynasty author and poet, Wu Cheng'en, a piece of Chinese literature that has inspired so much, especially with the Monkey King Character being a central character.

Yup, it's the famed trickster hero The Monkey King that's appeared countless times in televised entertainment, most notable the successful 80's TV series Monkey, the Forbidden Kingdom played by Jet Li and more recently played by Donnie Yen in the Monkey King films. He's the mischievous God-like hero with the ability to see through anyone's disguise, has superhuman strength, immortality and armed with his enchanted staff and golden dragon armour. This time played brilliantly by Kenny Lin.

Though the story is balanced with the Monk, Tang Sanzang played by Kris Wu, who is Master and on a pilgrimage to India to hopefully receive ancient Buddha scriptures to bring back to China. The Monkey King is one of three disciplines, exiles from the celestial heavens for misbehaving, who have agreed to aid and protect the Monk on his journey to the west in return for forgiveness and enlightenment.

The other two disciplines being Zhu Ba Jie or Pig, and Sha Wüjing or Sandy. Pig being a lustful flirt obsessed with all things beautiful and Sandy, a fish deity, a loyal and smart follower in the party. The four of them travel westward and banish any demons they come across on the way, one key demon being similar to Theoden's possession in the Two Towers.

The film keeps quite true to the myth, bearing the characteristics of each character incredibly well, and whilst many would see them as silly or pointless heroes. They're exactly as the literature states. Reluctant, disobedient, argumentative yet loyal and courageous. It's a shame the film doesn't explain their initial meeting, or have more insight into each character, but I can only assume that's all been done in the first film, which I am now intrigued to watch.

None of the original cast return, apart from Chinese super model Qi Shu, better known for her roles in The Transporter, Three Times and Jackie Chan's Gorgeous. However it appears to be an uncredited role, or the actress that plays her is a doppelgänger.

The film is totally crazy, with slapstick comedy elements and incredibly vibrant action sequences that made me feel like I was standing in a classic gaming arcade. All those flashing neons and loud echoing chants and pings. It does, unfortunately become a massive mess making little sense by the end of the film, it quickly goes from one scene to the next without giving the audience anytime to digest what they've just seen.

Running Time: 6

The Cast: 6

Performance: 6

Direction: 6

Story: 5

Script: 5

Creativity: 7

Soundtrack: 7

Job Description: 5

The Extra Bonus Point: 0

Would I buy the Blu-ray?: Doubt it.

53% 5/10

#HarkTsui #StephenChow #KrisWu #KennyLin #TzeChungLam #MengkeBateer #BeiErBao #QiShu