Stephen Chow, director of Shaolin Soccer, Kung Fu Hustle, and CJ7, is back with another over-the-top comedic flick that adapts one of the Four Great Classical Novels of 16th Century Chinese literature.
The story follows a bumbling Buddhist monk and demon hunter, Xuan Zang, who has been tasked with defeating evil demons plaguing the world. The opening scene has some rather dark tones, but is quickly dispelled by some of Stephen Chow’s classic slapstick comedy. For any fans of his movies, his clever use of photorealistic CGI is front and center although Stephen Chow and many other familiar cast members from past movies were nowhere to be found (with the exception of a few).
Although Zang is dubbed a “demon hunter” he has been taught to try and tame the demons for “every living thing is inherently born good.” He often finds himself in near death situations, only to be saved by another demon hunter, Miss Duan, played by actress Qi Shu (The Transporter). These two are opposites in their approach as Miss Duan uses a type of magical bracelet that can be duplicated an infinite amount of times, change sizes, and burst her enemies into dust.
The action sequences, special effects, and bits of comedic play are excellent and pure fun. However, the movie introduced a lot of zany characters—specifically Miss Duan’s band of hunters—that we didn’t really get to know and disappeared during the second half of the movie. She traveled with a group of fighters, but typically fought demons alone. Didn’t make much sense.
Aside from that, Journey to the West did not disappoint and actually left me wanting more (even with it’s 110 minute run-time). The ending seems to suggest a possible sequel so let’s hope we’re not waiting another several years for another Stephen Chow flick.