Monkey King: Hero Is Back

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Monkey King: Hero Is Back
Monkey King Hero is Back Chinese film poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed byTian Xiaopeng
Based onJourney to the West
by Wu Cheng'en
Beijing Weiyingshidai Culture & Media
Hengdian Chinese Film Production Co.
October Animation Studio
S&C Pictures
Shandong Film and Television Production Center
Distributed byUnited Entertainment Partners (China)
Viva Pictures (USA)
Big Picture 2 Films (Portugal)
SC Films International (World-wide)
Release date
  • 10 July 2015 (2015-07-10)
Running time
90 minutes
BudgetUS$16 million[1]
Box officeUS$153 million[2]
Chinese name
Simplified Chinese西游记大圣归来
Traditional Chinese西遊記之大聖歸來
Literal meaningJourney to the West: Return of the Great Sage

Monkey King: Hero Is Back (Chinese: 西游记之大圣归来; pinyin: Xīyóu jì zhī dà shèng guīlái; lit. 'Journey to the West: Return of the Great Sage') is a 2015 Chinese computer-animated film directed by first time director Tian Xiaopeng.[3] The film was released on 10 July 2015.[4] The film was the highest-grossing animated film in China until it was surpassed by the 2016 films Zootopia and Kung Fu Panda 3.[5][6]


The all-powerful Monkey King, Sun Wukong, is imprisoned by the Buddha within an ice cage deep within the mountains for rebelling against heaven.

And 500 years later, Mountain Trolls attack a group of travellers- all except for a baby boy named Liuer are killed, and Liuer is adopted by a monk. Several years later, the same trolls invade a small village and kidnap 49 young children. Liuer saves one of the baby girls and is chased by the trolls for doing so. He stumbles into the cave where the Monkey King was imprisoned, and unknowingly releases him from his curse. Sun Wukong defeats the trolls, although he's only able to use physical attacks, since a remnant of Buddha's seal prevents him from regaining his magical powers.

Wukong attempts to break the Buddha's seal, to no avail. Liuer and the girl enthusiastically greet Wukong, not knowing he has lost his powers. Annoyed, Wukong attempts to lose the two, but is unable to evade them. A stone monster, created by the Buddha to keep Wukong imprisoned, attacks the three. Liuer manages to undo the spell on the monster, but falls off a cliff in the process. When he awakes, he finds out Wukong has saved him.

The three come upon Pigsy, a war god that Wukong defeated in a battle 500 years ago, now reincarnated into a pig demon. Though Wukong is again hesitant, Pigsy joins the group as well. They stay overnight at an inn, but its owners turn out to be Trolls in disguise, who try to kidnap the baby. More trolls arrive and Wukong fights them off. The leader of the monsters, Hun Dun, appears, defeating Wukong and capturing the girl. After Wukong refuses to pursue them, Liuer goes ahead to save them on his own.

At Hun Dun's lair, it is shown that he plans to sacrifice all the children they've kidnapped in order to gain magical powers. Liuer meets with his mentor, Fa Ming, to try to rescue them but nearly get captured. Wukong finds a doll of himself that Liuer had, and realises how important of a figure he is. He and Pigsy go to help Liuer. Saving Liuer and the 49 children, Wukong, defeats the monsters- however, a Solar Eclipse occurs, and Hun Dun turns into a titanic monstrous beast. Liuer is killed when the monster's rampage causes rocks to fall and crush him.

Upon seeing the boy's death, Sun Wukong is devastated. Full of fury, he forcibly breaks Buddha's Seal with sheer brute force, regaining his original supernatural powers, and easily defeats Hun Dun.

As the story ends, it is revealed Liuer survived the rocks- they return the abducted children to their families.


Character Mandarin English
Sun Wukong, the Monkey King Lei Zhang Jackie Chan
Liuer Zijie Lin Kannon Kurowski
Fa Ming Wenlun Wu James Hong
Hun Dun Zirong Tong Feodor Chin
Li Jing / Pigsy Jiurong Liu Roger Craig Smith
Jade Emperor TBA David S. Jung
Father Qianjing Zhao
Lady Troll Wu Di Nika Futterman


7.8 million yuan ($1.23 million) of the film's marketing costs was raised through crowdfunding, in exchange for listing of 109 producers (many of whom are children) in the film's credits.[7][8]


Box Office[edit]

The film grossed $17.99 million CNY ($2.85 million USD) on its opening day, placing third at the Chinese box office.[9] With positive reviews and word of mouth, the film's box office reception steadily increased, peaking at $65.87 million CNY ($10.44 million USD) a day, and first at the box office.[10] The film began to drop due to competition from Monster Hunt and finished its run with a gross of $957 million CNY ($153 million USD).[11] The film became the seventh highest grossing film in China of 2015 and the highest grossing animated film in China until being surpassed by Zootopia and Kung Fu Panda 3 the following year.


The film received generally positive reviews on Chinese review aggregators Maoyan and Douban with scores of 9.3 and 8.4 out of 10 ratings respectively.[citation needed][citation needed]

Other media[edit]

On October 17, 2019, a video game was released on PlayStation 4, developed by Hexa Drive and published by Oasis Games.[12] As Sun Wukong (renamed Dasheng in the English dub), players guide Liuer and Pigsy (Zhu Bajie) to fight off Mountain Trolls and other monsters to save the kidnapped children from the clutches of the demon king Hun Dun, use statues of Guanyin to unlock spells to enhance skills and use various weapons to battle enemies. Two DLCs were available: Mind Palace, which is set within Sun Wukong's mind sealed inside the Buddha's crystal, where he trains himself in a series of obstacles and traps between different biomes, and Uproar in Heaven, which is set before the main story where the monkey king duels against three of the Jade Emperor's greatest warriors, Nezha, Juling Shen and the Jade Emperor's nephew Erlang Shen.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Awards Category Outcome
2015 Golden Rooster Awards Best Animated Feature Won[13]
2015 Silk Road International Film Festival Animated Film of the Year 2015 Won[14]
2015 China Animation & Comic Competition Golden Dragon Award Best Animated Feature Film Won[15]
2015 China Animation & Comic Competition Golden Dragon Award Best Directing for an Animation Won[15]
2015 Sichuan TV Festival Golden Panda Award Best Directing for an Animation Nominated[16]
2015 Golden Horse Film Festival Best Animation Feature Nominated[17]


  1. ^ Amidi, Amid (July 26, 2015). "Breaking: 'Monkey King' Breaks Chinese Record, Surpasses 'Kung Fu Panda 2′". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved July 26, 2015.
  2. ^ Patrick Brzeski (August 31, 2015). "China Box Office: 'Terminator Genisys' Marches Towards $100M". The Hollywood Reporter. (Prometheus Global Media). Retrieved September 1, 2015.
  3. ^ "Forget 'Minions,' 'Monster Hunt' and 'Monkey King' Smash Chinese Box Office Records". Cartoon Brew. 2015-07-19. Retrieved 2015-07-19.
  4. ^ 《大圣归来》概念美术赏 水墨油彩风格多变 东方意境跃然纸上. 2015-07-15. Retrieved 2015-07-19.
  5. ^ Jonathan Papish (January 29, 2016). "On Screen China: Let the Bear Hug Commence—'Kung Fu Panda 3'". China Film Insider. Retrieved January 29, 2016.
  6. ^ Nancy Tartaglione (January 30, 2016). "'Kung Fu Panda 3' In China At $40M+ Through Saturday; Eyes Record Animation Debut". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
  7. ^ "Crowdfunding tastes blood in movie".
  8. ^ "Film fans crowdfund new blockbuster".
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "艺恩娱数".
  12. ^ "Monkey King: Hero is Back on Playstation".
  13. ^ "Golden Rooster Awards (2015)". IMDb. Retrieved 2015-12-13.
  14. ^ "第二届丝绸之路国际电影节"在福州落幕. Retrieved 2015-12-13.
  15. ^ a b 第12届中国动漫金龙奖获奖名单揭晓. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
  16. ^ "Sichuan TV Festival (2015)". IMDb. Retrieved 2015-12-13.
  17. ^ "Golden Horse Film Festival (2015)". IMDb. Retrieved 2015-12-13.

External links[edit]