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Fantasy adventure about the arrival of Buddhism in China. When the Goddess of Happiness tosses the Longevity Monk and his disciples out of heaven (because the Monkey King tried to attain immortality), the Monkey King is reincarnated as the Joker. He now spends his time chasing two jealous women. When one of them is dying, the Joker goes back in time in an attempt to save her. Written by
I remembered watching this movie many years ago and knew that it would be an instant classic. It wasn't so much of the slapstick humor that made Stephen Chow famous but the depth of the story line that rarely exists in HK productions.
Using an important part of the classic story, "Journey to the West", the director attempted to retell the story of how the Monkey god (Sun Wu Kong) was tamed and willingly escorted the Longevity Monk on a journey to India (West) to receive the sacred buddhist scriptures. In the original text, Monkey was captured by the great lord Buddha and entraped under the "5 Fingers Mountain" (Hand of Buddha) for 500 years where he was tamed and then saved by the Longevity Monk.
In the movie adaption, he was appointed the protector of the Longevity Monk but strayed from the path of holiness when he fell in love with a demoness and tried to sell out his master (the demons believed by eating his flesh, they would gain immortality). Monkey was eventually captured and was to be destroyed when his master intervened, begging for his disciple's mercy and sacrificing himself to save his disciple. The Goddess of Mercy then decided to send the Monkey 500 years forward in time to live a life of sufferings as a mortal before passing judgement.
The story comes in 2 parts and has to be watched together to be fully understood (the 1st part had quite a cliffhanger going on). While great performances were to be expected from every cast involved, Stephen Chow stood out as the Monkey God. As a mortal he attempted to resist his fate and change his future, as an immortal he tried to forget his mortal longings and focus on his mission. Stephen Chow's portrayal of the struggle and growth of the character was simply excellent.
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