This week in Aussie cinemas is a film that will bring joy to the hearts of those brought up on hours of Monkey!, or with an appreciation for its source material, the classical Chinese novel Journey to the West. An entirely fitting Lunar New Year release for the year of the monkey, really.
Following up rather more quickly on 2014’s long-in-gestation Monkey King, Filmko Entertainment and director Cheang Pou-soi bring us Monkey King 2, based on the prominent episode in the text where our travellers encounter Baigujing, the White Bone Spirit.
Donnie Yen has hung up Sun Wukong’s staff and circlet (sadly — I thought his performance in the first film was the best thing about it!), to be replaced by Aaron Kwok, who played the Bull Demon King in the earlier film. The rest of the party are played by Feng Shaofeng (as monk Tang Sanzang), Xiaoshenyang (as Zhu Bajie, or Pigsy) and Him Law (as Sha Wujing, or Sandy). Gong Li takes the role of principal antagonist, as the White Bone Spirit herself. Action is in the capable hands of Sammo Hung, and Weta Digital in NZ have again handled the heavy visual effects requirements.
Monkey King 2 opens in 3D in selected cinemas this Thursday, Feb 5. Jump on your cloud and get out to see it.
Here’s a trailer (actually a couple, back-to-back):