Journey to the West (2014)
This Chinese import from 2013 is now available for direct streaming on-line. It’s one of the most original and entertaining films I have seen in the last 10 years. I tend to be hard on CGI films, but this one just blew me away with fantastic designs of Chinese mythological creatures and a light comical approach. Looking for a film with original monsters? Look no further. The opening sequence with a giant “catfish” demon will get your attention. The film is a mosaic of kung fu, slap stick comedy, adventure and fantasy. Portions of the film vaguely reminded me of George Pal’s 7 Face’s of Dr. Lao (1964), but Journey is fairly unique.
The story has rival demon hunters in feudal China searching out for fame in ridding a peasant village of evil Yaoguai. These take the form of a monstrous catfish with a chameleon’s tongue, a pig demon, and a powerful Monkey King. The demon hunters have a few tricks up their sleeves too. Demon hunter Almighty Foot (Chaol Zhang) is one amazing spectacle to behold. Kudos to directors Stephen Chow (Kung Fu Hustle, 2004) and Derek Kwok for this delightful wacky piece of art. I loved it.