‘Journey to the West’ misses the on screen presence of it’s director
Loosely based on the classic 16th century Chinese novel of the same name, Journey to the West (full title Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons in China) is more of a prequel to the classic tale than a straight adaptation. The story centers on Xuan Zang (Zhang Wen), a Buddhist trying to protect the public from demons, his emerging feelings for the lovely Miss Duan (Shu Qi), a fellow demon hunter who helps him repeatedly, and ends with Zang’s trans-formative encounter with the Monkey King (Bo Huang).
Filled with Director Stephen Chow’s signature over the top CGI slapstick style, Journey to the West lacks the Chow in the starring role, which he usually assumes for most of his directorial efforts, and the film misses his charm and energy immensely. Wen lacks the madcap energy that Chow would bring to the role, which isn’t to say he’s terrible, he’s just very bland. This is accentuated by the best performance in the film from the gorgeous Shu Qi as his would be lover/saviour who just oozes charm and sass. Her performance elevates the supporting role she is saddled with and the misgivings of the scripting of her character.
The visuals are very much Chow’s career trademark, with outlandish CGI creations that are aimed directly at the fantastical, they are meant to wow with their creation without worrying about how realism plays into the proceedings. The magical foot of one demon hunter plays into this very nicely as it grows to an insanely immense weapon from the tiniest of beginnings. The visual impact of the film will satisfy most Chow aficionados as it is the one part of the film that really delivers.
The script is all over the place and more of a collection of battles/set pieces than a cohesive story in most points, but the visuals and the lovely Shu Qi will keep most viewers engaged through the film. Sadly, the biggest thing missing from Journey to the West is the indelible footprint of director Chow himself, leaving fans with the feeling that they have just watched something directed by someone trying to be Stephen Chow.
Till Next Time
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