The Monkey Goes West (1966)
Reviewed by: Gaijin84 on 2007-03-07
Summary: A very good start to the saga...
Monkey Goes West is the beginning of the "Journey to the West" saga from Shaw Brothers. The Priest, Tang (Ho Fan) is traveling through the forests of China when a massive earthquake and tornado whisks his party away. He wanders around and stumbles across the Monkey (Yueh Hua), trapped in a rock prison. He is convinced to let him free (much to the dismay of his keeper) and allows him to accompany him to the West in order to find the powerful scriptures. This is probably the most famous story in Chinese lore, so I won't ruin any of it with an inadequate description. The first movie ends with the Priest, Monkey and Pig heading off for the West after a series of adventures and close calls.

This is a very enjoyable movie, played more for drama with some funny interactions between Monkey and Pig. Both Yueh Hua and Paang Paang (the Pig) are excellent and play off each other perfectly. They are really the focus of the story, while the Priest's search simply provides the basis of the adventure. One should be aware that being that this film was made in 1966, the special effects are very rough, but it adds to the overall fun of the story. Do not expect top-of-the-line effects here, but roll with them and enjoy the acting. It also has a number of musical numbers that might catch people by surprise. Not as slapstick as Stephen Chow and Jeff Lau's A Chinese Odyssey series, but an excellent adaptation (so far) of the saga.

Reviewer Score: 8