Saiyűki (The Adventures of Super Monkey) (2007)
Journey to the West comes to the big screen like never before in the 2007 film Saiyuuki! Also known as Monkey Magic and Adventures of the Super Monkey, this is the latest in a long line of adaptations of the Wu Cheng'en tome. One of the four great Chinese classics, Journey to the West, or Saiyuuki in Japanese, is about the adventures of Tang Dynasty monk Tripitaka and his mischievous magical disciples as they journey to India to retrieve the Buddhist sutras. This fantastical allegorical tale has been adapted countless times for the big and small screen, notably in classic Chinese films like Ho Meng Hua's The Monkey Goes West series and Stephen Chow's The Chinese Odyssey series. In Japan, Saiyuuki also inspired many adaptations including the anime series Dragonball and an immensely popular TV series in 1978. Fuji TV took a leap of faith in 2006 with their own brand-new 11-episode Saiyuuki starring Katori Shingo of SMAP as famed monkey king Son Goku. Actress Fukatsu Eri (The Professor's Beloved Formula) plays monk Sanzo Hoshi (Tripitaka), echoing the gender twist of the 1970s series. Ito Atsushi (Densha Otoko) and Uchimura Teruyoshi (Zebraman) complete the square as lecherous swine spirit Cho Hakkai (Pigsy) and water demon Sa Gojou (Friar Sand), with updated personalities and powers. The TV drama was such a huge success, it was followed up with a feature film in 2007, with the original cast reprising their roles. Helmed by TV director Sawada Kensaku, feature film Saiyuuki retains the narrative quirks, zany energy, and colorful demons that made the drama so fresh and entertaining. The manic comic powers of Katori Shingo show no signs of abating as the gang of four takes their journey to the silver screen. This time, they encounter a princess whose parents have been turned into turtles by two powerful demons, played by Kaga Takeshi (Death Note) and Kishitani Goro (Ryű ga Gotoku). Son Goku and company head for the mystical mountains to battle the demons … More
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Critic Reviews for Saiyűki (The Adventures of Super Monkey)
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Audience Reviews for Saiyűki (The Adventures of Super Monkey)
Good fantasy-adventure of the "irrepressible" Monkey King and his gang going to defeat the two evil brothers before they cast the world into eternal darkness. There are lots of excitement and funny on the fighting scenes between Monkey King and Silver King trying to take an 'orb' at the sky and on the ground for more than 10 minutes.More
I watched this film tonight in Australia with the title Monkey Magic. Believe it or not, Japan was actually the first country to adapt the beloved Chinese fantasy tale Journey to the West to television in the 1970s with the cult hit Monkey (China would not produce its own television telling until the 1980s).
In fact, this film is the fifth remake and everybody noticed a new look for the main character - Monkey, played in the new series by Shingo Katori and his very blond hair. Katori says his new version of Monkey is a punk rocker, yelling about love. I will say this is definitely one of the most annoying interpretations of Son Goku. I'm certain that the main actor should take the full responsibility for the fact that "Monkey" has been reduced to a child-like creature who constantly screams everything he says, since Shingo Katori has played such childish characters before (horrible images of Nin-Nin come to mind). The actor overacts to an extreme, over-expressing every possible emotion and over-speaking every line. Sometimes it works, but, most of the time it just looks stupid.
I forgot to mention that this movie is known in Japan under the names Saiyuki, or the "Journey to the West". The best part about this film is that unlike recent drama adaptations, it works as an isolated story.
Australians noticed that the scenery of ancient China looks a little familiar... parts of the series were shot in New South Wales at Stockton Desert near Port Stephens and the Blue Mountains.
Director Kensaku Sawada and screenwriter Yuji Sakamoto created a well-paced adventure that entertains with amusing deadpan and slapstick comedy. However, the supposedly magical powers possessed by the main characters only conveniently appear halfway through the film, and the contrived attempts to work in lessons about friendship and teamwork with monologues are boring and misplaced... Still, if you ever have a chance to watch it, do that...
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