The Monkey King (film)

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The Monkey King
Theatrical release poster
MandarinDà Nào Tiān Gōng
CantoneseDaai6 Naau6 Tin1 Gung1
Directed byCheang Pou-soi
Produced byKiefer Lyhrywgraiu[1]
Michael Wehrhahn[3]
Robert Harris[3]
Screenplay bySzeto Kam-Yuen
Edmond Wong
Lola Huo
Dali Chen
Based onJourney to the West
by Wu Cheng'en
StarringDonnie Yen
Chow Yun-fat
Aaron Kwok
Joe Chen
Peter Ho
Kelly Chen
Zhang Zilin
Gigi Leung
Xia Zitong
Louis Fan
Music byChristopher Young
CinematographyArthur Wong
Ardy Lam
Yang Tao
Daniel L. Symmes
Distributed byAeon Pix Studios (India)
Release date
  • 25 January 2014 (2014-01-25) (Beijing premiere)
  • 30 January 2014 (2014-01-30) (Hong Kong)
  • 31 January 2014 (2014-01-31) (China)
Running time
120 minutes
CountriesHong Kong[1][2]
Cantonese[1][improper synthesis?]
Budget500 million yuan (82 million USD)[4]
Box officeUS $182.2 million[5]

The Monkey King[a] is a 2014 Hong Kong[1]-Chinese[2] action-fantasy film directed by Cheang Pou-soi and starring Donnie Yen as the titular protagonist Sun Wukong. Yen also serves as the film's action director. Production began in Beijing on 18 October 2010[6] and was filmed in 3D.[7] The plot is based on an episode of Journey to the West, a 16th-century Chinese literary classic written in the Ming Dynasty by Wu Cheng'en. It was released on 31 January 2014.[8] A sequel titled The Monkey King 2 was released in February 2016.


During an attack on Heaven, the Bull Demon King battles and loses against the Jade Emperor, the ruler of Heaven. The Emperor's sister and Bull Demon King's lover, Princess Iron Fan, convinces the Emperor to spare him and banishes him, Princess Iron Fan, and the rest of the demons to Flaming Mountain. The goddess Nüwa sacrifices her body to rebuild Heaven with crystals. The Jade Emperor appoints his nephew Erlang Shen to guard the Southern Gate, despite Erlang's resentment of the task. One of the crystals falls to Mount Huaguo, taking the form of a monkey over time. A nine-tailed fox is scarred after touching the crystal and whisked away by a mysterious force.

Years later, the monkey is taken in and trained by Subhuti, naming him Sun Wukong. The Bull Demon King plans to invade heaven again by using Wukong and preying on Erlang's anger towards the Jade Emperor. Erlang agrees to help the Demon King in exchange for getting to kill his uncle and take Heaven's throne. The plan is kept secret from Princess Iron Fan, who is pregnant with the Demon King's child. Wukong travels to the palace of the Dragon King to find weapons for the Mount Huaguo monkeys. After defeating the Dragon King, Wukong becomes intrigued by a staff planted in the sea. He removes it, causing a violent storm. The Bull Demon King asks a young Vixen if she'd like to meet her old friend again. She is revealed to be the nine-tailed fox and the Demon King as the force that whisked her away, claiming to have saved her life. After the Dragon King informs Heaven of Wukong's destruction, Erlang sends Nezha to arrest him.

The Vixen, who reveals her name to be Ruxue, reunites with her old friend, Wukong. He promises to make her immortal after learning she will die when she turns 200 years old. The pair are attacked by Nezha, but is killed by the Bull Demon King. Wukong befriends the Demon King, who appeals to Wukong's ego and tempts him with Heaven's treasures, including immortality. Wukong journeys to Heaven and learn the secret to immortality. The Demon King and Erlang conspire further, revealing that if Wukong consumes the Emperor's elixir, it will increase his power.

Erlang tries to convince the Jade Emperor that Wukong is a demon but Subhuti intervenes, explaining Wukong is not evil. Wukong meets the Emperor, and is given a position caring for the stables. Princess Iron Fan learns of the Demon King's plan, who justifies his attack as destiny. Wukong comes across a large kiln. Erlang, disguised as a maiden, tempts him by revealing that the Emperor's elixir is made there. Wukong is restrained by Subhuti and told to leave but Erlang challenges him to take the Elixir. Wukong consumes the elixir and battles Erlang until he flees. Ashamed, Wukong leaves Heaven and returns to find Mount Huaguo destroyed and all his friends dead, including Ruxue who has a dark substance around her neck. Enraged, Wukong returns to Heaven after the Bull Demon King convinces him that they were responsible. Wukong attacks Heaven's armies and the Emperor.

Suhuti battles the Demon King but is defeated. Wukong notices the Demon King conjure the same dark substance he found on Ruxue and realizes he was the one that killed his friends. Wukong attacks the Demon King but is defeated. Through a vision, the goddess Guan Yin helps Wukong realize his mistakes. The Demon King defeats the Emperor and kills Erlang, taking the throne. Wukong battles the Demon King once more, sending him crashing to Earth. Later, Princess Iron Fan gives birth to Red Boy. They find the Bull Demon King who, having lost all his power, has been turned into a regular bull. Iron Fan explains that this is the fate of evil men but continues to care for the bull, regardless. Wukong wishes to help the Emperor rebuild Heaven, but he is stopped by Buddha. Buddha reveals that Wukong's chance for atonement will arrive in 500 years, but must sleep inside Buddha's hand-turned-mountain until then. Wukong agrees and is sealed by Buddha. 500 years later, Tang Sanzang approaching the mountain.



When the film was first announced, both Jet Li and Donnie Yen were eyed for a role.[9] On 18 May 2010, Yen was confirmed to be playing the title role of the Monkey King.[10] Later, it was announced Chow Yun-fat and Aaron Kwok will be playing the Jade Emperor and Bull Demon King respectively. Kwok's role is said to be breaking traditions for being handsome, stylish and fighting for love.[11] The film was originally budgeted at 300 million yuan but later was raised to 400 million yuan. Production companies include Filmko, Mandarin Films, China Film Group, Shenzhen Golden Shores Films, Zhejiang HG Entertainment, Dongguan Boning Entreprise and Investment, Beijing Wen Hua Dong Run Investment Co., Ltd., China Film Co-Production Corporation, and Global Star Productions, Inc. Michael Wehrhahn, President of Global Star Production, Inc, has joined forces with former Imagine Films President / Universal Television Icon Robert Harris in producing and releasing high end features for the U.S. and Asian markets.[12][13][14]

Additional cast members were later announced including Cecilia Cheung, Gigi Leung, Kelly Chen, Peter Ho, Joe Chen and Liu Ye.[15] On 17 May 2011, Zhang Zilin, winner of Miss World 2007, confirmed that she joined the film, playing the role of Nüwa, replacing Cecilia Cheung, who was originally[citation needed] announced in the role. However, Zhang claimed that she never heard that Cheung was to be in the film.[16]

For the 3-D shoot, Filmko recruited Hollywood talents. The crew includes David Ebner (Alice in Wonderland, Spider-Man 3), who will serve as visual effects supervisor for the film and Shaun Smith (The Forbidden Kingdom, 300, I Am Legend) who will be the special make-up supervisor.[17]


The original poster released had a release date of February 2012, but it was postponed.[10] Later it was announced that it would be released on 7 July 2012,[18] on 4 July 2013,[19] and finally on 30 January 2014 in Hong Kong and 31 January in China.[20] It was released in the United States in 2015.


James Marsh of ScreenAnarchy referred to it as a "Hot Mess From The Heavens", saying it has poor CGI effects and a weak script, while praising lead actor Donnie Yen's performance as Sun Wukong, but ultimately writing Wukong "a somewhat irritating character who can be difficult to sympathise with."[21] Maggie Lee of Variety calls it "a simplistic, action-driven narrative with inexhaustible energy, but little style or substance."[22] Clarence Tsui of The Hollywood Reporter writes "The Monkey King is filled to the brim with gravity-defying saints and sprites zipping across the screen in a litany of kinetic 3-D action sequences. But the stellar imagery hardly makes up for the film's underwritten narrative, half-baked characterizations and emotional gimmicks."[23]

Box office[edit]

The film had the highest-grossing opening day in China with RMB121 million (US$20.0 million), surpassing Iron Man 3.[24] It also broke three more records in China including the highest single-day box office, the first Chinese film to break RMB100 million on its first day and the fastest Chinese film to reach RMB100 million.[25] During its opening, it was the highest-grossing film at the global box office grossing RMB216 million (US$35.4 million).[26] It grossed RMB389.97 million (US$64.35 million) in the first four days.[27] With this, the film also set the record as the fastest film to reach RMB300 million in China box office.[28] In China, The Monkey King grossed a total of RMB1,028,688,003 (US$167,840,000)[29] and becoming only the third Chinese film to earn more than a billion yuan at the Chinese box office. The film grossed over US$182.2 million worldwide.[5]


Filmko Entertainment announced Louis Koo will be joining the cast as Tang Sanzang in the upcoming sequel.[30] Production for the sequel started in November 2014.[31]


  1. ^ Also known as The Monkey King: Havoc in Heavens Palace.[5]
  • Production companies: Filmko Entertainment,[1][2] Mandarin Films,[1][2] China Film Group,[1] Shenzhen Golden Shores Films,[1] Zhejiang HG Entertainment,[1] Dongguan Boning Entreprise and Investment,[1] Beijing Wen Hua Dong Run Investment Co., Ltd.,[2] China Film Co-Production Corporation,[2] Global Star Productions
  • Distributors: Filmko Entertainment (Hong Kong; International),[1] International -Aeon Pix Studios, Newport Entertainment (Hong Kong),[1] Beijing Anshi Naying Culture Co. (China),[1] China Film Group (China),[1] Wanda Media (China),[1] Global Star Productions


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Film Review: 'The Monkey King in 3D'". Variety. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "THE MONKEY KING (2014)". Hong Kong Cinemagic. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  3. ^ a b "The Monkey King: An IMAX 3D Experience". Big Movie Zone. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  4. ^ Skipper, Ben (2014-01-20). "Monkey King: A Look At China's Biggest (And Craziest) Film Ever". Retrieved 2014-02-07.
  5. ^ a b c "The Monkey King Havoc in Heavens Palace". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  6. ^ "The Monkey King Starts Wreaking Havoc". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  7. ^ "Donnie Yen to Transform Himself into The Monkey King". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  8. ^ Stephen Cremin (2013-11-07). "Mega-Vision close deals on Vegas to Macau". Film Business Asia. Retrieved 2013-11-13.
  9. ^ Brown, Todd (25 March 2010). "Soi Cheang Tapped To Direct 3D MONKEY KING! Donnie Yen And Jet Li Eyed Up For Key Roles!". ScreenAnarchy. Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  10. ^ a b Young, Al (18 May 2010). "Donnie Yen is The Monkey King". ScreenAnarchy. Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  11. ^ "HKSAR No Top 10 Box Office: [2010.10.12] DONNIE YEN, AARON KWOK AND CHOW YUN FAT STAR IN MONKEY KING". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  12. ^ "Watch The Brand New Trailer For THE MONKEY KING: THE LEGEND BEGINS!". Retrieved 15 December 2013.
  13. ^ "Shanghai Film Festival: China's Ultimate Soft Power Fest". The Diplomat. June 18, 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  14. ^ King Of Kung Fu (July 15, 2013). "King Of Kung Fu Presents: The Interview With Monkey King Producer Michael Wehrhahn". AMC Asian Movie Pulse. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  15. ^ "The Monkey King Announces New Cast Members". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  16. ^ "張梓琳《大鬧天宮》演女媧 從未聽說張柏芝出演". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  17. ^ "Filmko recruits Hollywood talents for 3D Monkey King shoot". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  18. ^ "Monkey King will be the first Chinese 3D blockbuster". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  19. ^ ""Monkey King" Release Date Set". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  20. ^ Elley, Derek (April 9, 2014). "The Monkey King". Film Business Asia. Archived from the original on 2 January 2015. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  21. ^ Marsh, James (26 January 2014). "Review: THE MONKEY KING Is A Hot Mess From The Heavens". ScreenAnarchy. Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  22. ^ Lee, Maggie (31 January 2014). "Film Review: 'The Monkey King in 3D'". Variety. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  23. ^ "The Monkey King (Xi You Ji Zhi Da Nao Tian Gong): Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. 7 February 2014. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  24. ^ Kevin Ma (1 February 2014). "Monkey King has record opening in China". Film Business Asia. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  25. ^ "THE MONKEY KING BREAKS 5 MAINLAND RECORDS". HKTOPTEN. 1 February 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  26. ^ Patrick Frater (2 February 2014). "'Monkey King' Reigns At China And Global Box Office". Variety. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  27. ^ Coonan, Clifford (4 February 2014). "China Box Office Sets Single-Day Record of $41 Million, Driven by Local Films". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  28. ^ "Monkey King Breaks 300 Million". HKTOPTEN. 3 February 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  29. ^ "China Box Office February 24–March 2, 2014". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  30. ^ Hsia, Heidi (2014-02-12). ""The Monkey King 2" is confirmed!". Retrieved 2014-02-13.
  31. ^ Ma, Kevin (2014-06-16). "Filmko launches RMB1 billion slate". Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2014-06-16.

External links[edit]