It has been far too long since we’ve experienced the hilariously kooky genius of Stephen Chow. The Chinese filmmaker’s Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle both combined amazingly choreographed martial arts, memorable characters, hilarious gags, top notch CGI set pieces and downright crazy stories to make for some of the most fun you could have in a cinema without the need for baby oil.
Well, at least it seems like Journey to the West, the latest film that Chow co-directed with Derek Kwok, got the crazy part right.
Based on one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature of the same name, Derek Kwok and Stephen Chow’s “Journey To The West” is a contemporary remake of the misadventures of a Buddhist monk as he makes a pilgrimage from China to India. The monk travelled to the “Western Regions” during the Tang Dynasty, to obtain sacred texts (sūtras). The bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara (Guanyin), on instruction from the Buddha, gives this task to the monk and his 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.
…. Er. Right. I can’t believe I’m going to say this about a Stephen Chow film, but that actually looks too cartoonish. I kept expecting Wile. E. Coyote to show up and paint some tunnel mouths on the sides of mountains.
Now, it could just be the cut of this trailer which seemingly focuses on nothing but the film’s slapstick gags, or it could be that Chow’s co-director Kwok is a huge Looney Toons fan, but this just seems like a tad bit too far out there.
It’s also the first film that doesn’t find Chow simultaneously behind the camera as well as in front of it, leaving the leading roles to that Asian girl from Transporter (because I know you’ve been wondering where you’ve seen her before) and Huang Bo, who looks like a poor-man’s Jackie Chan, with Nicolas Cage bird-hair.
All of that being said, I’ve been a huge fan of Chow’s previous works (see opening paragraph) and if anybody had told me the plot of Shaolin Soccer before I had seen it, I would thought it pretty ridiculous too, so I’ll still be willing to give this a watch.
The film sees its release in China next month, but no further international dates have been set yet.
Last Updated: January 28, 2013