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西遊記 (1966)
The Monkey Goes West

Reviewed by: Gaijin84
Date: 03/07/2007
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

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 01/19/2004
Summary: 4/5

**** THE MONKEY GOES WEST: I enjoyed this one a lot - the special effects were impressive, the sets stunning and Yueh Hua always charismatic. The action was pretty good too.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: andras
Date: 09/23/2003
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.

Reviewed by: mpongpun
Date: 02/15/2003

Nothing out of the ordinary. This flick was Ho Meng Hua’s first adaption of the famous novel SAI YAU GEI" (Journey to the West) which is based on the famous journey of a monk who traveled from China to India in quest of some Buddhist scriptures. The sequels to follow are PRINCESS IRON FAN, CAVE OF THE SILKEN WEB, and LAND OF MANY PERFUMES.