causing an uproar in Heaven, Sun Wukong needs to repent. However, monkeys are
not good at contrition, nor are kings or demigods. Nevertheless, the Monkey
King agrees to do penance by protecting Buddhist monk Xuanzang on his pilgrimage
in search of scriptures. Unfortunately, a seductive demoness will try to end the
epic Journey to the West prematurely in Cheang Pou-soi’s The Monkey King 2 in 3D (trailer here), which opens
tomorrow in New York.
Goddess Guanyin offers the Monkey King an offer he cannot refuse. In exchange
for his freedom, Sun Wukong will loyally protect and serve Xuanzang during his
journey. Of course, this will be easier said than done. To restore her demonic
life force, the wicked White Bone Spirit is determined to eat the monk, thereby
ingesting his spiritual essence. As a result, Xuanzang’s party is constantly
surrounded by minor demons in human guise, but the monk remains obstinately
blind to their true nature.
two constantly argue over Sun Wukong’s apparently groundless fighting and
killing. The Monkey King’s comrades, Zhu “Pigsy” Bajie and Sha “Sandy” Wujing
find themselves stuck awkwardly between the monkey and the monk, but they have
a sinking feeling the hairy demigod is more right than wrong.
Surprise, Monkey King 2 largely plays it straight, or at least as straight as
possible when the protagonist is hyperactive primate. This time around, Aaron
Kwok steps into Donnie Yen’s monkey suit and just basically goes nuts in a way
we never knew he had in him. Watching him zip around in the hirsute makeup sort
of brings to mind Robin Williams. Frankly, it is kind of stunning that he can
bring this kind of chaos. Reportedly, Kwok trained hard for the role, but the
physical is the least of it. Still, he definitely looks good performing Sammo
Hung’s zippy, otherworldly action choreography.
Kwok is a minor revelation, Gong Li re-confirms she is one of the best in the
business as White Bone Spirit, a.k.a. Baigujing. She has to be the most
alluring and sophisticated supernatural temptresses perhaps ever seen on-screen.
She brings all kinds of sinister élan, yet drops subtle hints of her long buried
humanity. In contrast, William Feng Shaofeng is a bit wooden as Xuanzang, but
it is hard to compete with Kwok and Gong.
King 2 is so frenetically
supercharged, it sort of leaves viewers dazed. At times, the gravity-defying
Sun Wukong looks more like a character in a video game than a movie. However,
you have to give Kwok credit for pushing himself. As crazy as it gets, Gong
still classes up the joint and even manages to outright steal the show.
Recommended for fans of big, bold wuxia madness, The Monkey King 2 in 3D open tomorrow (2/5) in New York, at the AMC
Labels: 3D films, Aaron Kwok, Gong Li, Journey to the West, Monkey King