Monkey King: Hero Is Back

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Monkey King: Hero Is Back
Monkey King Hero is Back Chinese film poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed byTian Xiaopeng
Based onJourney to the West
by Wu Cheng'en
Beijing Weiyingshidai Culture & Media
Hengdian Chinese Film Production Co.
October Animation Studio
S&C Pictures
Shandong Film and Television Production Center
Distributed byUnited Entertainment Partners (China)
Viva Pictures (USA)
Big Picture 2 Films (Portugal)
SC Films International (World-wide)
Release date
  • 10 July 2015 (2015-07-10)
Running time
90 minutes
BudgetUS$16 million[1]
Box officeUS$153 million[2]
Chinese name
Simplified Chinese西游记大圣归来
Traditional Chinese西遊記之大聖歸來
Literal meaningJourney to the West: Return of the Great Sage

Monkey King: Hero Is Back (Chinese: 西游记之大圣归来; pinyin: Xīyóu jì zhī dà shèng guīlái; lit. 'Journey to the West: Return of the Great Sage') is a 2015 Chinese computer-animated film directed by first time director Tian Xiaopeng.[3] The film was released on 10 July 2015.[4] The film was the highest-grossing animated film in China until it was surpassed by Zootopia and Kung Fu Panda 3.[5][6]


The all-powerful Monkey King, Sun Wukong, once roamed freely between Heaven and Earth, but after angering & defying the Gods and defeating the heavenly army, he is imprisoned by Buddha within an ice cage deep within the mountains.

500 years later, monsters attack a small village- a boy monk (Liuer), the sole survivor of a previous attack as a baby, flees to the mountains to save a baby girl. The boy stumbles into the cave where the Monkey King was imprisoned and unknowingly, releases him from his curse. However, a remnant of Buddha's seal prevents Sun Wukong from regaining his full powers. Despite being restricted by Buddha's seal, Sun Wukong fights bravely against the monsters. He afterward, starts travelling with the children, gaining their implicit trust and developing a fondness for them, especially Liuer. The three later find another travelling companion in a man that Sun Wukong beat 500 years previously, who as a side-effect of being beaten turned into a pig-human demon now called Pigsy.

In the midst of their journey, the four come to a house where the people who own it let them stay the night. Unfortunately, the owners turn out to be monsters in disguise and the four narrowly escape from them.

Unfortunately, events escalate and the girl is abducted by the leader of the monsters, who easily defeats Sun Wukong, due to his powers being suppressed by Buddha's seal. Scared of his being powerless against the monster, Sun Wukong stays behind whilst the other two go to save the children. Overcoming his fear, Sun Wukong races after them.

At the monster's lair, it is shown that the Monster Lord plans to refine the baby girl and the other recently abducted babies into elixirs, like the previous batches of babies that were abducted & sacrificed over the years. In the process of rescuing her and the other babies who were kidnapped by the monsters, the head monster turns into a titanic and monstrous beast. The young boy is killed when the monster's rampage causes rocks to fall and crush him right in front of Sun Wukong, mere seconds away from saving him.

Upon seeing the boy's death, the Monkey King is devastated, and full of fury against the monster that killed the boy, forcibly breaks Buddha's Seal with sheer brute force, despite the seal still trying to suppress him. This returns his original supernatural powers to him and he easily defeats the Monster Lord.

As the story ends, it is revealed the young boy was not dead, but was only seriously injured and had fallen unconscious. The abducted children are returned to their families by the boy monk and his teacher (who had somehow tracked him to the monster's lair) on floating clouds summoned by the Monkey King. However, Sun Wukong himself does not appear in this scene and it is not shown or stated where he has disappeared off to.


Character Mandarin English
Sun Wukong, the Monkey King Lei Zhang Jackie Chan
Liuer Zijie Lin Kannon Kurowski
Old Monk Wenlun Wu James Hong
Evil Lord Zirong Tong Feodor Chin
Pigsy Jiurong Liu Roger Craig Smith
Jade Emperor TBA David S. Jung
Father Qianjing Zhao
Lady Troll Wu Di Nika Futterman


7.8 million yuan ($1.23 million) of the film's marketing costs was raised through crowdfunding, in exchange for listing of 109 producers (many of whom are children) in the film's credits.[7][8]

Other Media[edit]

On October 17, 2019, a video game was released on PlayStation 4, developed by Hexa Drive and published by Oasis Games.[9]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Awards Category Outcome
2015 Golden Rooster Awards Best Animated Feature Won[10]
2015 Silk Road International Film Festival Animated Film of the Year 2015 Won[11]
2015 China Animation & Comic Competition Golden Dragon Award Best Animated Feature Film Won[12]
2015 China Animation & Comic Competition Golden Dragon Award Best Directing for an Animation Won[12]
2015 Sichuan TV Festival Golden Panda Award Best Directing for an Animation Nominated[13]
2015 Golden Horse Film Festival Best Animation Feature Nominated[14]


  1. ^ Amidi, Amid (July 26, 2015). "Breaking: 'Monkey King' Breaks Chinese Record, Surpasses 'Kung Fu Panda 2′". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved July 26, 2015.
  2. ^ Patrick Brzeski (August 31, 2015). "China Box Office: 'Terminator Genisys' Marches Towards $100M". The Hollywood Reporter. (Prometheus Global Media). Retrieved September 1, 2015.
  3. ^ "Forget 'Minions,' 'Monster Hunt' and 'Monkey King' Smash Chinese Box Office Records". Cartoon Brew. 2015-07-19. Retrieved 2015-07-19.
  4. ^ 《大圣归来》概念美术赏 水墨油彩风格多变 东方意境跃然纸上. 2015-07-15. Retrieved 2015-07-19.
  5. ^ Jonathan Papish (January 29, 2016). "On Screen China: Let the Bear Hug Commence—'Kung Fu Panda 3'". China Film Insider. Retrieved January 29, 2016.
  6. ^ Nancy Tartaglione (January 30, 2016). "'Kung Fu Panda 3' In China At $40M+ Through Saturday; Eyes Record Animation Debut". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
  7. ^ "Crowdfunding tastes blood in movie".
  8. ^ "Film fans crowdfund new blockbuster".
  9. ^ "Monkey King: Hero is Back on Playstation".
  10. ^ "Golden Rooster Awards (2015)". Retrieved 2015-12-13.
  11. ^ "第二届丝绸之路国际电影节"在福州落幕. Retrieved 2015-12-13.
  12. ^ a b 第12届中国动漫金龙奖获奖名单揭晓. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
  13. ^ "Sichuan TV Festival (2015)". Retrieved 2015-12-13.
  14. ^ "Golden Horse Film Festival (2015)". Retrieved 2015-12-13.

External links[edit]