Monk’s love story core of newMon­key King movie

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By XUFAN

A chap­ter in the 16th-cen­tury Chi­nese clas­sic, Jour­ney to theWest, de­picts an ex­otic king­dom in­hab­ited only by women.

Such a fic­tional won­der­land will now come alive on the big screen, thanks to The Mon­key King 3, the third movie in a sched­uled se­ries of seven.

Film­ing for the lat­est in­stall­ment will start in Novem­ber, its di­rec­tor Cheang Pou-soi an­nounced in Bei­jing on Tues­day.

He also said that some 1,200 fe­male “ex­tras” are be­ing se­lected from across the coun­try to play the res­i­dents of the king­dom, which the novel’s au­thor Wu Cheng’en named the Women’s King­dom. The se­lec­tion process in the cities of Bei­jing, Shang­hai, Guangzhou and Chengdu will be broad­cast live on the web from Septem­ber to mid-Oc­to­ber.

Cheang, a Hong Kong­based di­rec­tor, had di­rected the first movie that re­volves on the Mon­key King’s fight against ce­les­tial be­ings as well as the sec­ond, which is about the mighty hero’s con­flict with a fe­male de­mon. While the first was out in 2014, the sec­ond was re­leased ear­lier this year.

“Un­like the first two movies, the third shows hu­man be­ings, too,” says Cheang.

The movie is adapted from the 54th chap­ter of the vo­lu­mi­nous Jour­ney to the West, which fic­tion­al­izes Tang Dy­nasty (AD618-907) Bud­dhist master Xuan­zang’s ad­ven­tures dur­ing his travel from China to In­dia to col­lect su­tras.

In the novel, Xuan­zang is es­corted by theMon­key King and two other fol­low­ers with spe­cial pow­ers, a pig known as ZhuWuneng and a for­mer wa­ter mon­ster called Sha Wu­jing. When they ar­rive in the all-fe­male king­dom, the land’s ruler falls in love with Xuan­zang and seeks to marry him.

“But their love is doomed to fail. To keep his fo­cus on his faith, Xuan­zang — de­spite suf­fer­ing in­ner strug­gles— has to ig­nore his chem­istry with the queen, which makes for the most at­trac­tive part of the story,” Cheang says.

De­spite re­ceiv­ing mixed re­views, the pre­vi­ous two Mon­key King movies di­rected by him made more than 1 bil­lion yuan ($150 mil­lion) at the box of­fice. The movies were not only among the high­est-gross­ing fea­tures in their re­lease years at home, but also they sold widely in over­seas mar­kets, a suc­cess very few pure Chi­nese ti­tles have achieved.

But Cheang’s jour­ney for­ward isn’t easy. The Mon­key King’s sto­ries have been adapted into at least 30 movies in the past few decades. And more com­pe­ti­tion is on the way.

Ac­cord­ing to the coun­try’s top movie reg­u­la­tor, an­other four movies based on the novel are cur­rently be­ing made.

Cheang’s an­swer to that seems to be a celebrity-stud­ded cast. A-lis­ter Feng Shaofeng, known for his role in the Sino-French pro­duc­tion Wolf Totem, will play Xuan­zang in this movie as he did in the sec­ond in­stall­ment of Cheang’s Mon­key King se­ries Com­edy ac­tor Shen He, known more by his stage name Xiao Shenyang, also reprises his role as the pig.

And the di­rec­tor says the fe­male lead will be played by a top Chi­nese ac­tress.

Wang Haifeng, one of the main pro­duc­ers of Cheang’s Mon­key King movies, told the Chi­nese me­dia ear­lier that two mas­sive in­door sets in­Wuxi, EastChina’s Jiangsu prov­ince, had been con­structed for the lat­est film. The new film will have more spe­cial ef­fects than the pre­vi­ous two, and more com­edy el­e­ments will also be vis­i­ble, he said.

Wang, the founder of en­ter­tain­ment com­pany Film Ko Film, says that his firm along­side other fi­nanciers will in­vest a to­tal of 3.5 bil­lion yuan in seven Mon­key King movies.

TheMon­key King 3, which has Hol­ly­wood makeup veteran Shaun Smith work­ing on the crew, will hit the­aters for Chi­nese New Year in 2018.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.