Art, Entertainment

The Monkey King 2 is more fun than a barrel of you-know-what and has heart, too

Monkey King 2 stars Aaron Kwok and Gong Li, which is serious star power for a movie that could have easily been a CG update of the classic Journey To The West saga. And guess what? Despite playing the villain in the first installment, the Hong Kong idol from the ’90s is a perfect fit as the arrogant and skittish king of monkeys. Of course, the Chinese acting icon is an excellent and ice-cold villain. (Kelly Chen ain’t bad as Guan Yin, either.)

If you didn’t see the previous movie, don’t worry about it. Neither did I. This story begins when the monk on a mission releases the magic monkey who is trapped in a cave, and the predestined partners immediately and reluctantly join forces and start to get on each other’s nerves.

While there is plenty of cool shape-shifting and soul-sucking going on–and Gong Li and her mutating henchbeings are awesome–the relationship between the monkey and his master is quite compelling. Why is the primate hero punished for slaying demons that no one else can even perceive? Will our heroes ever get along and fulfill their mission of retrieving the scriptures? Is Wukong really just a trained pet?

Stephen Chow’s Journey To The West movies are funnier and deeper. But director Cheang Pou-so’s version with martial arts direction by Sammo Hung might be the most crowd-pleasing yet, with nonstop action on a grand scale, breathtaking backdrops, and just enough pathos to keep it from being a video game.

See it in 3D at Atlantic Times Square!

AMC Atlantic Times Square 14:
450 N Atlantic Blvd
Monterey Park

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