Tuesday, February 5, 2013

“JOURNEY TO THE WEST: CONQUERING THE DEMONS” (西游.降魔篇) Movie Review. Charming, Entertaining and Beautifully Crafted.

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Madcap film director STEPHEN CHOW roars back into action as he writes, produces and co-helms his latest brilliant masterpiece “JOURNEY TO THE WEST”.

The timing is set as a CHINESE NEW YEAR 2013 grand release in major ASIAN CITIES, with an ensemble cast that includes Shu Qi, Bo Huang, Zhang Wen, Show Luo and Chrissie Chow.

This production is a celebration of art, combining a stirring potpourri of martial arts, CGI monsters, quirky romance and slapstick.

 STEPHEN CHOW’s “Journey to the West” is both imaginative and affecting.

It is actually a prequel of a classic fictionalized folk lore bearing the same name, focusing on the misadventures of a Buddhist monk as he embarks on a perilous pilgrimage from China to India.

The monk travelled to the “Western Regions” during the Tang Dynasty to obtain sacred texts (sutras).

The bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (Guanyin), on instruction from the Buddha, bestows this task to the monk and his assembly of three protectors in the form of disciples – namely Sun Wukong, Zhu Bajie and Sha Wujing – together with a dragon prince who acts as Xuanzang’s steed, a white horse.

These four characters have agreed to help Xuanzang as atonement for their past sins.

STEPHEN CHOW is well known for his “mo lei tau” (nonsensical) brand of comedic sensibilities. You either like this or you don’t.

 In this film, he also displays an uncanny ability to juggle between comedy and tragedy. This is his directorial treatment on a well-worn tale as die-hard followers can attest to it.

Sparing the overkill of shoot, plot, locations and other technicalities, it’s kudos to the Director of Photography CHOI SUNG-PAI, Production Designer BRUCE YU and the merry team of competent actors who all rendered a splendid job.

“JOURNEY TO THE WEST” is one film you’d love to hate.

Or hate to love, paradoxically. One man’s meat is another’s poison.

If you go with an accepting mind to be entertained, then this is it.

Should you attend with a neuro-surgical mind with intent to dissect, then there are plenty of plot holes to crow about.

Whichever school of thought you are preaching from, always tread with logic.

Making a film is tedious whilst sitting in the theater harboring a literary cutting mind is another.

I enjoyed this film though I am hardly a fan of STEPHEN CHOW and his “mo lei tau” nonsense.

“JOURNEY” is charming, entertaining and beautifully crafted.

And commercially this film is destined to hit bull-eye in terms of box office takings, which would be the ultimate goal of any distributor.

Drumroll for dollars and cents, so make no bones about this.


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