The Monkey King (film)
|The Monkey King|
|Mandarin||Dà Nào Tiān Gōng|
|Cantonese||Daai6 Naau6 Tin1 Gung1|
|Directed by||Cheang Pou-soi|
|Produced by||Kiefer Lyhrywgraiu |
|Screenplay by||Szeto Kam-Yuen|
|Based on||Journey to the West|
by Wu Cheng'en
|Music by||Christopher Young|
Daniel L. Symmes
|Distributed by||Aeon Pix Studios (India)|
|Budget||500 million yuan (82 million USD)|
|Box office||US $182.2 million|
The Monkey King[a] is a 2014 Hong Kong-Chinese 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 and was filmed in 3D. 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. 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.
- Donnie Yen as Sun Wukong, the Monkey King
- Chow Yun-fat as the Jade Emperor
- Aaron Kwok as Bull Demon King
- Joe Chen as Princess Iron Fan
- Peter Ho as Erlang Shen
- Kelly Chen as Guan Yin
- Zhang Zilin as Nüwa
- Gigi Leung as Chang'e
- Xia Zitong as Ruxue the Nine-tailed Vixen
- Louis Fan as Juling Shen
- Eddie Cheung as Li Jing, the Pagoda-wielding Heavenly King
- Calvin Cheng as Nezha
- Him Law as Muzha
- Liu Hua as the Dragon King of the East Sea
- Li Ching as the Green-haired Monkey King
- Irene Wang as Fairy Caiyun
- Hai Yitian as Subhuti
- Cathy Leung as Fairy Caixia
- Monica Mok
- Liu Ye
- Wang Xizhi
When the film was first announced, both Jet Li and Donnie Yen were eyed for a role. On 18 May 2010, Yen was confirmed to be playing the title role of the Monkey King. 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. 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.
Additional cast members were later announced including Cecilia Cheung, Gigi Leung, Kelly Chen, Peter Ho, Joe Chen and Liu Ye. 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 announced in the role. However, Zhang claimed that she never heard that Cheung was to be in the film.
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.
The original poster released had a release date of February 2012, but it was postponed. Later it was announced that it would be released on 7 July 2012, on 4 July 2013, and finally on 30 January 2014 in Hong Kong and 31 January in China. 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." Maggie Lee of Variety calls it "a simplistic, action-driven narrative with inexhaustible energy, but little style or substance." 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."
The film had the highest-grossing opening day in China with RMB121 million (US$20.0 million), surpassing Iron Man 3. 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. During its opening, it was the highest-grossing film at the global box office grossing RMB216 million (US$35.4 million). It grossed RMB389.97 million (US$64.35 million) in the first four days. With this, the film also set the record as the fastest film to reach RMB300 million in China box office. In China, The Monkey King grossed a total of RMB1,028,688,003 (US$167,840,000) 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.
- Also known as The Monkey King: Havoc in Heavens Palace.
- Production companies: Filmko Entertainment, 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, Global Star Productions
- Distributors: Filmko Entertainment (Hong Kong; International), International -Aeon Pix Studios, Newport Entertainment (Hong Kong), Beijing Anshi Naying Culture Co. (China), China Film Group (China), Wanda Media (China), Global Star Productions
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