Interestingly, a decent amount of the film’s budget came from crowdfunding from over a hundred local families. “Monkey King” eventually ended up winning the Best Animated Film at the Golden Rooster Awards and the Golden Dragon Award China Animation and Comic Competition.
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The story is nothing new here, just told differently. The film starts off with the powerful Monkey King attacking and causing havoc in Heaven and angering the Gods. For his punishment, Buddha imprisons him in an icy cave under a massive mountain. Five hundred years later, while on the run from the Trolls, a boy monk and a small child take shelter in the icy cave, and unknowingly, the boy monk sets Monkey King free. After learning that the boy monk has a huge fight ahead of him, Monkey King decides to help him against the demon Lord who kidnaps children. During their journey, they come across Pigsy who also tags along.
In this fully computer animated version, the Monkey King or Sun Wukong, voiced by Lei Zhang, is a slim built, towering red haired monkey. After his release, he just wants to take it easy since his super power is not fully restored. The little monk Liuer, voiced by Lin Zijie, is a highly spirited and hyperactive orphan boy. He was adopted by an old monk after his parents were killed by Trolls. Apparently, the English dubbed version has Jackie Chan voicing the Monkey King and James Hung as the older monk. However, since I only saw the Chinese mainland version I can’t say how accurate the English version turns out.
Director Tian Xiaopeng and his crew have done a wonderful job with this animated feature, the film is exciting to watch, it’s entertaining from the start and full of fast-paced martial arts action. Attention to details is quite amazing, as seen in the white Chinese dragon with scales and soft flowing mane. It just looks alive and the overall colours are vibrant. Credits must go to the use of traditional Chinese operatic music throughout the film, making it a more engaging and balanced experience.
Sure, the plot of this film is not that sophisticated, but it has a good mix of US, Japanese games, animations and movies roll into one high energy and well balanced animated feature. It will be remembered as one of China’s finest animated feature films. So sit back and let the visuals take you into an action packed magical journey.