The Monkey King (miniseries)
The Monkey King, also known as The Lost Empire, is a 2001 four hour television mini-series produced by NBC and the SciFi Channel. It is a contemporary take on the classic novel Journey to the West. It stars Bai Ling, Thomas Gibson, Russell Wong, Eddie Marsan, and Randall Duk Kim. The film is directed by Peter MacDonald and written by pre-eminent Asian American dramatist David Henry Hwang.
Nicholas Orton (played by Thomas Gibson) is an American businessman who has lived in China for several years. He has a chance encounter with a beautiful Chinese lady (played by Bai Ling) who says that he is the only one who can save the world from reverting five-hundred years. He is unswayed by this until many modern buildings begin disappearing before his eyes. This mystical lady (revealed later as Guanyin, the bodhisattva of compassion) transports him to a portal which offers entrance, through the teachings of Confucius (played by Ric Young), to the ancient Chinese underworld.
When Orton (soon to be named The Scholar From Above) reaches the other side of the portal, he finds that his studies of Confucius will come in handy for the path that lies ahead. Orton's first action is to rescue Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, from the mountain in which he has been imprisoned for centuries. Wukong travels with Orton in his quest to save the original manuscript of Journey to the West from retroactive destruction; if the story itself is erased from history, all of the people who were ever inspired by the lessons it teaches will be worse off, and history will permanently change for the poorer. They are later joined by Zhu Bajie (Pigsy) and Sha Wujing (Friar Sand) to help them on their way.
The film is available on DVD and videocassette. There was also a novelization of the mini-series released under the title The Monkey King by Kathryn Wesley.
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