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Journey to the West

Journey to the West

4.0 1
Director: Stephen Chow, Chi-hin Kwok, Derek Kwok, Qi Shu

Cast: Stephen Chow, Chi-hin Kwok, Derek Kwok, Qi Shu


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A Buddhist monk battles demons, including a fish monster that attacks a village and a nefarious monkey scheming to escape from captivity. Meanwhile, a female warrior falls in love with the monk and tries to trick him into a relationship.


A Buddhist monk battles demons, including a fish monster that attacks a village and a nefarious monkey scheming to escape from captivity. Meanwhile, a female warrior falls in love with the monk and tries to trick him into a relationship.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
After a five-year hiatus from directing, Hong Kong comedy superstar Stephen Chow returns with Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons, an adaptation of the classic Chinese novel. There's no telling what drew Chow to this project (other than, perhaps, the box-office success guaranteed by a story that's a cultural touchstone in much of Asia), but it's something of an odd fit for him. While his usual trademarks -- CGI-heavy fight sequences and slapstick so broad it barely needs to be translated into English -- are still in evidence, they're a poor fit for a story that's occasionally deadly serious and full of conversations on the nature of Buddhist philosophy. Chow has shown tremendous talent for mixing different genres before, but whereas his Kung Fu Hustle moved seamlessly between comedy, drama, action, musical numbers, and nostalgic references to near-forgotten martial-arts stars, Journey to the West just feels lumpy and disjointed. The structure of the film is heavily episodic, jumping from one set piece to the next with very little connective tissue in between. The first such sequence involves a water demon (basically a huge fish, rendered by what looks like the best CGI 1997 has to offer) attacking a rural village. Bushy-haired Buddhist monk Xuanzang (Wen Zhang) shows up to save the day, and gets some last-minute help from the beautiful Duan (Shu Qi), a far more experienced demon hunter. There's a brief scene in which Xuanzang laments to his master that he wasn't able to save a small child before subduing the beast, and then we're already off to the next supernatural threat -- a pig demon who kills the guests at a remote inn. Same routine as before: First we see the demon's unsuspecting victims being lured to their deaths; then Xuanzang arrives, out of his depth; finally Duan appears and kicks ass, with Xuanzang providing occasional help and comic relief. As a result of this stop-start rhythm, it takes a while for Journey to the West to develop any sense of momentum, and even longer for us to figure out what the central conflict of the film is. Also not helping: Comic interludes like Xuanzang being mind-controlled by a woman who's practicing some sensual dance moves, which makes it look like he's doing a striptease for a group of male demon hunters. There are fewer gags in this movie than Chow's previous work, but most of them either fall flat or clash with the tone of the various plot lines. The romantic subplot between Xuanzang and Duan is problematic as well. Duan is introduced as a fearless heroine worthy of Joss Whedon, but she gradually devolves into someone whose main plot function is to serve as a potential love interest for Xuanzang. She's constantly throwing herself at him and devising new schemes for the two of them to kiss, stating that her affection for him isn't based on looks or charm but his innate goodness -- however, he rejects her advances on the grounds that he's a devout Buddhist who wants to experience the greater love of enlightenment rather than the lesser love of romance (try finding that in an American movie!). That's certainly a will-they-won't-they? dynamic you don't see too often, but the end result is the waste of a potentially interesting character. Xuanzang's devout Buddhism points to what may be the most appealing aspect of the movie: Unlike 99 percent of Hollywood action flicks these days, the main character of Journey to the West isn't motivated by a desire to get revenge for past wrongs or to prove his worth to a distant father figure or to make a name for himself. Xuanzang simply wants to help others and defeat the demons because it's the right thing to do, and because it's what his religious faith demands of him. Even more incredibly, the movie makes pains to point out that he doesn't want to kill these demons -- all of whom are human beings who were transformed into monsters by their grief -- but to reform them and help end their suffering; Xuanzang even holds true to this philosophy after one of the demons causes him unimaginable personal pain. At a time when even the Star Trek franchise, once a shining beacon of optimism and humanist values, is about cocky heroes battling mass-murdering supervillains to the death (with very little regard for any collateral damage incurred along the way), Journey to the West's compassion is enormously refreshing. It might be a mess, but at least its heart is in the right place.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Stunts & special effects; Cast & characters; Director Stephen Chow; The laughs; Production design; Choreography; Theatrical trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Qi Shu Miss Duan
Zhang Wen Xuan Zang
Bo Huang Sun Wukong
Show Lo Prince Important
Lee Sheung Ching Sand Monk
Chen Bing Qiang KL Hogg
Cheng Si Han Master Nameless
Xing Yu First Of The North Star
Lu Zheng Yu Killer One
Chiu Chi-ling Killer Two
Yang Di Killer San
Ge Hang Yu Short Monkey King
Fung Ming Hun Taoist Priest
Yeung Lun Mayor

Technical Credits
Stephen Chow Director,Executive Producer,Screenwriter
Chi-hin Kwok Director
Derek Kwok Director,Screenwriter
Chan Chi-wai Editor
Fung Chih Chiang Screenwriter
Lee Sheung Ching Screenwriter
Alice Chow Associate Producer
Ellen Eliasoph Executive Producer
Choi Sung Fai Cinematographer
Ivy Kong Producer,Screenwriter
Bill Kong Executive Producer
Dong Ping Executive Producer
Raymond Wong Score Composer
Huo Xin Screenwriter
Lu Zheng Yu Screenwriter
Bruce Yu Production Designer
Wang Yun Screenwriter

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Journey to the West
1. Too Big [9:14]
2. The Real Demon [10:33]
3. 300 Nursery Rhymes [7:01]
4. Gao Family Inn [15:22]
5. Demon Hunters' Enemy [8:01]
6. The "Ironblood System" [8:58]
7. Prince Important [5:56]
8. Mr. Sun [3:44]
9. Monkey King [9:59]
10. Overconfident [9:20]
11. Buddha [7:56]
12. Credits [9:33]
13. Chapter 13 [4:01]

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Journey to the West 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
asiaseek More than 1 year ago
From the guy that produced Kung Fu Hustle, this is a comedy about demon hunters in old China. The special effects are okay, and the story is kind of lame, but the mix of actors, action, and dialog blends into this fantasy film. I highly recommend it.