The Monkey Goes West (1966)
Reviewed by: andras on 2003-09-23
Summary: Chinese Odyssey 1966
Actually they barely reach the front door, but this is a good intro to the Monkey King saga directed by Ho Meng Hua.
This is strictly matine fare and one should approach this material in the right frame of mind. I tried and successfully ended up enjoying this quite a bit. This little epic (110mins) starts with the helpless Monk(played by Ho Fan,a director hinself) harassed by monsters hungry for his flesh,then escaping - meeting the monkey - the pig - and later the Friar Sand finally ready for their journey to the west. This is where it ends and You have to get PRINCESS IRON FAN to find out what's next. I have only CAVE OF THE SILKEN WEB,but as of this writing all four in the series are available (LAND OF MANY PERFUMES is the 4th)

Anyway, MGW is lots of fun for several reasons. First,it is beautifully made. The outdoor scenery is worthy of King Hu and the interiors are gorgeously designed as well. This was before the Zoom Lens reached Hong Kong(?), instead they have used elegant cameramoves&travellings that would make Tsui Hark proud. Then there are the special effects which are just awful! But that's part of its charm really. For the finale which set underwater,they used a fishtank with gold fishes in it superimposing the actors over the footage. Then there is the worst looking rubber-dinosaurus ever made. Wonderful. There are also Peking Opera style songs throughout with good lyrics. The acting is suitably overplayed, except by the Monk who is rather passive (he does nothing other than pray or giving out advice here and there). The pig is played by the Ng Man Tat of 1966, but much fatter with big tits! Yueh Hua as the Monkey is quite good too. He carried over his monkey ways to same year's COME DRINK WITH ME.
There is some primitive swordplay,but no kung-fu and some of the humour is repetitive and/or childish.

I would recommend this to the more adventurous viewers, especially those who appreciate those old Defa or Russian fairy fantasies from the 50's/60's. At least You have the chance to witness what influenced todays filmakers like Jeff Lau or Tsui Hark when they were kids.