Da'ud Bob's Movie Reviews
January 2019

It really is amazing, the stuff that you can find on some of the streaming services, like Netflix. In this particular instance, Anna Sue had once again been "watching out" for stuff for me to review. As you may have seen from such things in the past, however, not all of the stuff that she finds while she's doing this end up rated very highly. This month's movie is, fortunately, not one of those. Indeed, it turns out that it's a nice retelling of the origin of one of China's most-loved characters, which retelling follows the original tale pretty closely. Admittedly, it helps that computer-generated effects are now to the point that it is possible to show just about anything on-screen and have it seem real. So the parts of the original story which would have been difficult (if not impossible) to put on film just a few years ago, are shown throughout this film: the kingdom of heaven and its denizens, the demon mountain and its denizens, are all brought to life on the screen. That alone does not, of course, mean that it doesn't have its faults, but still, it's a lively and attention-grabbing version of this origin story. And so it is that this month, Da'ud Bob reviews for you 2014's tale of the beginnings of the legend of The Monkey King: Havoc in Heaven's Palace.

Starring Donnie Yen as Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, Chow Yun-Fat as the Jade Emperor, Aaron Kwok as the Bull Demon King, Yitian Hai as Master Puti, Peter Ho as Erlangshen, Joe Chen as Princess Iron Fan, Xia Zitong as Ruxue, Kelly Chen as Guanyin, Calvin Ka-Sing Cheng as Nezha, Chung Him Law as Muzha, Gigi Leung as Chang'E, Hua Liu as the Dragon King of the East Sea, and Zilin Zhang as the goddess Nu Wa, the movie is a prequel to The Journey To The West, the oft- told story of the Monkey King's adventures on the road to India. It is the origins story, beginning with the birth of Sun Wukong and ending with his imprisonment for his crimes under the Five-Peaked Mountain. Along the way he acquires incredible powers, battling the armies of the gods and the armies of the demons to find his rightful place in the Heavens. It is a classic story of the scorned underdog who acquires great abilities but uses them recklessly and ultimately must pay a huge price to find redemption. The Monkey King captures the drama, beauty, humor, and fantastic action of the folk legend and brings it to the screen in a way never before possible.

Good points: The Monkey King's armor. (Well, the armor he took from the Dragon King of the East Sea.) The Monkey King is very monkey-like. I can only assume that actor Donnie Yen spent hours looking videos of monkeys to so faithfully "ape" their movements and gestures. The "Giant Minotaur vs. King Kong" battle scene.

Bad points: The Demon Mountain reminded me of nothing so much as Mordor and the fortress of Barad-dûr from The Lord of the Rings. The CGI, and all of the wirework involved in so many of the fights and action was often just over the top, and sometimes way too frenetic.

Zero breasts. No blood. Forty-seven dead bodies (plus one butterfly). Sword fu. Axe fu. Dragon fu. Crystal fu. Demon axe fu. Lava fu. Clam bubble fu. (No, really!) Kung fu. Fireball fu. Quarterstaff fu. Hoop fu. Spear fu. Fan fu. Electric lasso fu. Dragon sword fu. Monkeys roll. Monkey King rolls. Demon King rolls. Gratuitous demons. Gratuitous CGI fox. Gratuitous tsunami. Gratuitous huge fish. Gratuitous heavenly horses. Academy Award nominations to Donnie Yen as Sun Wukong for making his character so amazingly monkey-like, troublesome and mischievous but at the same time lovable, and to Kelly Chen as Guanyin for "You will find rebirth in the butterfly, not in the buffalo." A 47 on the Vomit Meter. 2 stars. Da'ud Bob says, "If you like the legend of the Monkey King in The Journey to the West, you'll love this movie. Check it out!"

Upcoming movies and miniseries to watch for!

Mary Queen of Scots

Now playing in limited release

Watch for the Da'ud Bob review on February 1

Mary Stuart's attempt to overthrow her cousin Elizabeth I, Queen of England, finds her condemned to years of imprisonment before facing execution. Starring Margot Robbie as Elizabeth I, Saoirse Ronan in the title role, and David Tennant (as John Knox).

Oh, look! Another remake! And one that really, really messes up the actual history (at least, based on the trailer which is now available on-line at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnqjSgMU36U). I mean, let's get real: Elizabeth and Mary never had a friendship; they never even met face-to-face.

No official website yet, just Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/maryqueenmovie/) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/MaryQueenMovie).

The Kid Who Would Be King

Now March 1, 2019 (that's at least two delays that I know of)

"A band of kids embark on an epic quest to thwart a medieval menace." Starring Rebecca Ferguson, Patrick Stewart as Merlin, Tom Taylor.


The Name of the Rose

2019 (in Italy)

"A monk investigates a series of mysterious deaths at an abbey. Television adaptation (eight episodes) of Umberto Eco's novel The Name of the Rose." John Turturro in the Sean Connery role, Michael Emerson, Rupert Everett, Damian Hardung, Claudio Bigagli.

Really? Yet another remake? Can no one write any original scripts anymore?

No official website yet.

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