Da nao tian gong (1963) Poster

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Notes on the 40th Anniversary Chinese DVD- the development of "true" Chinese fantasy animation
dont_b_so_BBC23 June 2005
The 40th Anniversay Edition box contains 2 DVDs, one with the film (parts I and II) and the other with some interesting special features, such as a much earlier black & white film made on another episode of the adventures of the Monkey King (the "Flaming Mountain" episode). The "Flaming Mountain" is really funny because it is halfway between Disney's (Micky Mouse) animation and the "true" Chinese animation achieved in Uproar in Heaven-- a really strange mix! The sound and image on the DVD is very well-remastered despite many minor specks and scratches, but part II of the main film was badly preserved with nasty marks and jumpy cuts. I really liked the commemorative documentary which has interviews of a few original animators and voice actors when they were still alive-- the Jade/Heavenly Emperor is actually modelled after the chubby face of its voice actor! Unfortunately, ONLY Chinese (traditional & simplified) subtitles are provided.

P.S. A REALLY well-remastered DVD is the 25th Anniversary DVD of "Nezha Nao Hai" (Nezha Conquers the Dragon King) which comes with (Chinese &) English subtitles! It totally wipes the floor with Disney's Mulan (just my personal fanatical opinion) in terms of Chinese fantasy art and, of course, kung-fu animation.
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I love this film !!!
Logan San26 February 2004
I also seen it a long time ago (I think more than 15 years ago when I was ten or so) in German TV (I think the language was German). I loved it !!! My brother and I were so enthusiastic about it! But I never got the chance to view it a second time since then. I also think I missed the beginning, so I searched for it on the internet. The only site I've found was the website of the Sydney Asian Pacific Film Festival, where it was shown. There I've got the website of the Animation Studio that produced the Film:

http://www.ani-sh.com (SHANGHAI ANIMATION FILM STUDIO)

But they don't have published a DVD yet I think, although it was there first major success and they used the Monkey on there logo since then... Does any body know where to get it ???


P.S.: There is also a semi-sequel called "Monkey Conquers the Demon" that I haven't seen yet.
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Healthy dose of Chinese Anarchism
mcfloodhorse11 December 2008
A goofy and great animated film about an anarchic Monkey King -- Sun Wukong -- who spends his days playfully directing millions of monkey children in martial arts training and bouncing around the beautiful waterfall forest they inhabit. After twice being deceptively lured into heaven by the Jade Emperor, so that he may be controlled and watched over, the Monkey King begins dismantling the Confucian hierarchies around (and above) him. Using spontaneous, creative, and subversive magic the Monkey King consistently undermines the Jade Emperor and his many minions and henchmen.

It's full of colorfully wild sequences replete with animal transformations, hilarious caricatures of military/political leaders, and jubilant, drunken rambunctiousness. The version I saw -- with English storytelling-narration leaving the Chinese dialog in its original Mandarin -- goes on forever. And the Chinese-opera styled music is a bit overwhelming at times. But the offbeat comic timing, ponderous caesuras, wavy movements, and truncated ending all make it a bizarrely entertaining experience.

Based on the early sections of the classic Chinese novel "Journey to the West", most commentators see the Monkey King in the film as representative of Mao wreaking havoc in China. Yet, with Mao's Cultural Revolution effectively eliminating the creative film industry the very next year, one may alternatively equate Mao with the oppressive Jade Emperor and his advisors desperately trying to destroy the liberated spirit of the Monkey King. Those of us born in the year of Monkey might be able to relate on a more universal level.
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Peak achievement of Chinese cartooning makes us re-consider the form
Mozjoukine15 December 2002
Our knowledge of animation in China is, to say the least, patchy but this is represented as their most important work, an account of the adventures of the painted face monkey king who leads the little monkeys of the Fruit and Flower Mountain, despite the traps and combatants launched by the King of Heaven.

It's sobering to realise that the opera tradition that this film's moves and costumes echo is the one shown under attack in FAREWELL TO THE CONCUBINE which is set in the period in which this was made. The childrens' films of the socialist countries were often their only product to be dogma free and it's hard to accept proposition that the drunken, destructive monkey is a rendition of young Chairman Mao upsetting the authorities.

The flattened, scroll painting design is one of the film's distinctive features.

UPROAR IN HEAVEN doesn't have the animation set pieces of the major Disney films, the zip of the Looney Toons or the sophistication of European cartoons but it has a quality of it's own which appeals and even occasionally impresses - the battle with the gem headed scarlet serpent, the horses bathing in the clouds. Monkey King, who apparently did have a further career, may not make any Journey to the East with Pigsy but he is a more effective cartoon character than Mickey Mouse, Mr McGoo or many of those we know better.

Tinies may have difficulty taking two hours of this but segments would be sure to get them in. It is, in a good copy, one of the best examples of the Orwo process even if they never could cope with the violet-mauve-purple bit of the spectrum.
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The very best out there (see below in which context)
Andrei Pavlov3 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The very best one, in which a monkey is kicking everybody's butt in a crazy kung fu style. It is not serious, it is not thought-provoking. But it is mindless and funny throughout. Remember watching this for the first time on Soviet TV back in 1980s. This entertainment was, is, and will be strictly for the boys. Cannot imagine any girl or woman who will enjoy it. And cannot name any other animation film that sets itself onto the topic of martial arts so tight.

Some mighty monkey king is jumping, spinning, and laughing, while training hordes of his little "citizens" - monkey babies. They all live in a wonderful land of flowers, rainbows, and waterfalls. Then our hero suddenly decides to get a weapon that can match his perfection in combat. So, the journey begins. What follows is a wild succession of kung fu extravaganza, wine consuming, dreamy happenings, blurred visions, etc. It is simply outright funny that no creature (either from the deep waters or from the heavenly castles) can make Monkey King any harm, though they try so hard... A reasonable person can get sick and tired of watching one fight after another in this cartoon. Not my case. Even a black-and-white version of this animated epic was extremely entertaining to me and inspired me to draw this character on paper just for fun.

By the way, most likely, you will not dig out any moral lessons from this cartoon. So, it's pure style and beauty with loads of kung fu. It is Mozart of animation dedicated to kung fu.

Animated bliss for those who enjoy crazy cinema with deep national roots. It is crazy to give it a 10 out of 10 but it is my mark for this one. Thank you for attention.
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The mischievous Monkey King's early "animated" misadventures
Here is another Chinese animated film I loved after watching it online - Uproar in Heaven. Made in 1965 and based on the classic mythological novel Journey to the West, the film covers the mischievous Monkey King's early misadventures from the novel, like rebelling against the Jade Emperor of Heaven.

Journey to the West is another classic story that intrigues me, and also got me into literature from other countries. I remember seeing an animated English dubbed TV series of Journey to the West that was made in 1999. In 2002, the series' episodes were edited and made into a OAV (Original Animated Video) movie, called "The Legends of the Monkey King." So after watching Uproar in Heaven, I'd concluded that I love it better then any film adaptation of Journey to the West.

Overall I really love this film and I love the character designs in the film especially for the monkeys, they'll so cute!
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I still remember this movie
pksky117 August 2003
I saw this movie so long ago that I do not remember it as being subtitled because when I saw it, I couldn't read. The movie was shown in a school theater as a cross cultural event. So I sat through the whole thing even though I couldn't understand what was being said and I still thought it was great.

I am still waiting to see it again.
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Still remember it too!
jonasjobbar9 November 2004
Saw it twice as a kid and I remember it still. This movie is a wonderful animation from China about the Monkey king and his adventures.

The movie consists of several earthly and heavenly adventures as the monkey king tries to (save the world?) or just get along in life (It has been over 20 years...)

It just became available for purchasing in Sweden and I am gonna get it...

9/10 as I remember it, it may even get 10/10 as a children's movie, but also risk being downgraded (as I said, 20 years) to about 8, but not lower, never...
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Very Interesting movie
sunnymoon1312 November 2002
Having gone into watching this without any expectations I must say that I was pleasingly surprised with how the movie captured me and pulled me in to the story. Yes it is an animated movie but it gives a chance to get a glimpse into the otherwise non revealed chinese mythology and legends.

Very good for young and old alike.
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Very good production
beavers-651-8025792 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The Monkey King is told to go to heaven for taking a great weapon from the Dragon King. He is brought to the Jade Emperor, but in heaven he proclaims himself "Great Sage." This leads to a battle, which leads to a war, which leads to a movie! A fun-filled adventure developed from a Chinese tale, "The Monkey King."! This movie contains wonderful music. The fights scenes are like watching a ballet and the colors throughout are beautiful. There should be an updated version of this movie and then hopefully it can reach a wider audience. When we watched it for the first time, the movie was enjoyed by children ranging in age from 5 to 11. Highly recommended for all ages. (Reviewed by Noah Block, age 7)
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