The Monkey King 3 西游记女儿国 (2018)
Directed by Cheang Pou Soi (SPL II, Motorway) once again, this third instalment of The Monkey King film franchise is based on the Women’s Kingdom chapter in the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West where the protagonists stumble into a country that’s populated by only women, believes that all men are poisonous and must be executed. They must find a way out to continue their long pilgrimage to obtain the holy Buddhist scriptures. The main actors from the previous film provide committed performances once again reprising their respective roles as Sun Wukong the titular Monkey King (Aaron Kwok), Master Tang Sanzang the monk (Feng Shao Feng), Zhu Bajie the pig (Xiaoshenyang) and “Sandy” Sha Wujing (Him Law), and their chemistry together is still as good as before.
The film is an even more lighthearted, humourous sequel compared to The Monkey King 2 (2016) with Sun Wukong being more of a supporting character this time as the story focuses more on the romance between his master and the Kingdom’s queen. While it does lack of truly emotional moments and strong performances like in the previous film, the film still manages to offer a satisfying entertainment for the mood of this festive season. It is a timely release for the film as Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day celebrations fall on the same week.
The franchise continues the approach of modernised dialogues and made some changes from the source material, the film is still somewhat faithful to the point of the original story and admirably touches a tad bit on the subject of abortion, obsession, infatuation and the teachings of Buddhism without diving too deep into all of that. It maintains its nonserious tone and delivers some ridiculous Stephen Chow-inspired gags which allows parts that don’t tally well, or make sense, easily forgivable.
The scene that bugged me the most is when the question of love is asked, Zhu Bajie does not react at all. But then again, none of the other three main characters are given proper development or backstory in the previous films anyway. Audience who’re familiar with the source material will just have to accept that this franchise is never intended to be a pure, faithful adaptation to the original.
Towards the end, I was hoping that the film wouldn’t end with a big dumb, Playstation 2-like battle and cliches from the previous two instalments, but unfortunately that has to happen, perhaps to satisfy the expectations of the general Chinese market. The action sequences and CGI are unimpressive and some of these scenes may even seem juvenile. However, in overall, The Monkey King 3 is still an entertaining movie adaptation of the novel’s chapter thanks to the scenario, characters backed by committed performances, and sufficient funny moments.
What I would’ve named the film: “Tripitaka & the Horny Queen of Women’s Kingdom”
Malaysian censorship: I doubt any censoring was required.
Second opinion: My girlfriend, who did not watch the previous instalment, said she enjoyed the modernised approach and its humour.
Verdict: A simple, fun sequel that would delight during the Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day season.
Rating: 3 / 5
Genre: Fantasy action comedy
Running Time: 114 minutes
Director: Cheang Pou- Soi
Screenwriter: Wen Ning
Cast: Aaron Kwok, Feng Shao Feng, Him Law, Zanilia Zhao Li Ying, Xiaoshenyang, Gigi Leung
Malaysia Release Date: 15 February 2018
Local Distributor: TGV Pictures
Production: Filmko Entertainment