The Monkey King (film)

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The Monkey King
Theatrical release poster
Traditional 西游記之大鬧天宮
Simplified 西游记之大闹天宫
Mandarin Dà Nào Tiān Gōng
Cantonese Daai6 Naau6 Tin1 Gung1
Directed by Cheang Pou-soi
Produced by Kiefer Liu[1]
Michael Wehrhahn[2]
Robert Harris[2]
Screenplay by Szeto Kam-Yuen
Edmond Wong
Lola Huo
Dali Chen
Story by Wu Cheng'en
Starring Donnie Yen
Chow Yun-fat
Aaron Kwok
Joe Chen
Peter Ho
Kelly Chen
Zhang Zilin
Gigi Leung
Xia Zitong
Louis Fan
Music by Christopher Young
Cinematography Arthur Wong
Ardy Lam
Yang Tao
Daniel L. Symmes
Filmko Entertainment[1][3]
Mandarin Films[1][3]
China Film Group[1]
Shenzhen Golden Shores Films[1]
Zhejiang HG Entertainment[1]
Dongguan Boning Entreprise and Investment[1]
Beijing Wen Hua Dong Run Investment Co., Ltd.[3]
China Film Co-Production Corporation[3]
Global Star Productions
Distributed by Filmko Entertainment (Hong Kong; International)[1]
Newport Entertainment (Hong Kong)[1]
Beijing Anshi Naying Culture Co. (China)[1]
China Film Group (China)[1]
Wanda Media (China)[1]
Global Star Productions
Release dates
  • 25 January 2014 (2014-01-25) (Beijing premiere)
  • 30 January 2014 (2014-01-30) (Hong Kong)
  • 31 January 2014 (2014-01-31) (China)
Running time
120 minutes
Country Hong Kong[1][3]
Language Mandarin[3]
Budget 500 million yuan (82 million USD)[4]
Box office US$181,900,000

The Monkey King is a 2014 Hong Kong[1]-Chinese[3] fantasy film directed by Cheang Pou-soi and starring Donnie Yen as the titular protagonist. Yen also serves as the film's action director. Production began in Beijing on 18 October 2010[5] and was filmed in 3D.[6] The plot is based on an episode of Journey to the West, a Chinese literary classic written in the Ming Dynasty by Wu Cheng'en. It was released on 31 January 2014.[7]


The film is based on selected chapters of Wu Cheng'en's classical novel Journey to the West and will tell the story of how the Monkey King rebels against the Jade Emperor of Heaven.[8]


Main cast[edit]

Other cast[edit]


When the film was first announced, both Jet Li and Donnie Yen were eyed for a role.[9] On 18 May 2010, Yen was confirmed to be playing the title role of the Monkey King.[10] Later, it was announced Chow Yun-fat and Aaron Kwok will be playing the Jade Emperor and Bull Demon King respectively. Kwok's role is said to be breaking traditions for being handsome, stylish and fighting for love.[11] The film was originally budgeted at 300 million yuan but later was raised to 400 million yuan. Production companies include Filmko, Mandarin Films, China Film Group, Shenzhen Golden Shores Films, Zhejiang HG Entertainment, Dongguan Boning Entreprise and Investment, Beijing Wen Hua Dong Run Investment Co., Ltd., China Film Co-Production Corporation, and Global Star Productions, Inc. Michael Wehrhahn, President of Global Star Production, Inc, has joined forces with former Imagine Films President / Universal Television Icon Robert Harris in producing and releasing high end features for the U.S. and Asian markets.[12][13][14]

Additional cast members were later announced including Cecilia Cheung, Gigi Leung, Kelly Chen, Peter Ho, Joe Chen and Liu Ye.[15] On 17 May 2011, Zhang Zilin, winner of Miss World 2007, confirmed that she joined the film, playing the role of Nüwa, replacing Cecilia Cheung, who was originally[citation needed] announced in the role. However, Zhang claimed that she never heard that Cheung was to be in the film.[16]

For the 3-D shoot, Filmko recruited Hollywood talents. The crew includes David Ebner (Alice in Wonderland, Spider-Man 3), who will serve as visual effects supervisor for the film and Shaun Smith (The Forbidden Kingdom, 300, I Am Legend) who will be the special make-up supervisor.[17]


The original poster released had a release date of February 2012, but it was postponed.[10] Later it was announced that it would be released on 7 July 2012,[18] on 4 July 2013,[19] and finally on 30 January 2014 in Hong Kong and 31 January in China.[20] It will be released in the United States in 2015.


The Monkey King received generally negative reviews from critics. James Marsh of Twitch Film gave the film a negative review referring it as a "Hot Mess From The Heavens" and criticizing poor CGI effects and weak script, however, praising lead actor Donnie Yen's performance as Sun Wukong, but ultimately writing Wukong "a somewhat irritating character who can be difficult to sympathise with."[21] Maggie Lee of Variety Film Reviews calls it "a simplistic, action-driven narrative with inexhaustible energy, but little style or substance."[22] Clarence Tsui of The Hollywood Reporter writes "The Monkey King is filled to the brim with gravity-defying saints and sprites zipping across the screen in a litany of kinetic 3-D action sequences. But the stellar imagery hardly makes up for the film's underwritten narrative, half-baked characterizations and emotional gimmicks."[23]

Box office[edit]

Despite relatively poor reviews, The Monkey King was a major box office hit. The film had the highest-grossing opening day in China with RMB121 million (US$20.0 million), surpassing Iron Man 3.[24] In addition, it also broke three more records in China including the highest single day box office, the first Chinese film to break RMB100 million on its first day and the fastest Chinese film to reach RMB100 million.[25] During its opening, it was the highest grossing film at the global box office grossing RMB216 million (US$35.4 million).[26] It grossed RMB389.97 million (US$64.35 million) in the first four days.[27] With this, the film also set the record as the fastest film to reach RMB300 million in China box office.[28] In China, The Monkey King grossed a total of RMB1,028,688,003 (US$$167,840,000)[29] and becoming only the third Chinese film to earn more than a billion yuan at the Chinese box office.[30] The film grossed a total of US$181,900,000 internationally.[31]


Main article: The Monkey King 2

Filmko Entertainment announced Louis Koo will be joining the cast as Tang Sanzang in the upcoming sequel.[32] Production for the sequel started in November 2014.[33]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Film Review: ‘The Monkey King in 3D’". Variety. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "The Monkey King: An IMAX 3D Experience". Big Movie Zone. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "THE MONKEY KING (2014)". Hong Kong Cinemagic. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  4. ^ Skipper, Ben (2014-01-20). "Monkey King: A Look At China's Biggest (And Craziest) Film Ever". Retrieved 2014-02-07. 
  5. ^ "The Monkey King Starts Wreaking Havoc". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  6. ^ "Donnie Yen to Transform Himself into The Monkey King". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  7. ^ Stephen Cremin (2013-11-07). "Mega-Vision close deals on Vegas to Macau". Film Business Asia. Retrieved 2013-11-13. 
  8. ^ "Donnie Yen, Aaron Kwok Join Cast of 'The Monkey King'". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  9. ^ "Soi Cheang Tapped To Direct 3D MONKEY KING! Donnie Yen And Jet Li Eyed Up For Key Roles!". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  10. ^ a b "Donnie Yen is The Monkey King". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  11. ^ "HKSAR No Top 10 Box Office: [2010.10.12] DONNIE YEN, AARON KWOK AND CHOW YUN FAT STAR IN MONKEY KING". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  12. ^ "Watch The Brand New Trailer For THE MONKEY KING: THE LEGEND BEGINS!". Retrieved 15 December 2013. 
  13. ^ "Shanghai Film Festival: China’s Ultimate Soft Power Fest". The Diplomat. June 18, 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  14. ^ King Of Kung Fu (July 15, 2013). "King Of Kung Fu Presents: The Interview With Monkey King Producer Michael Wehrhahn". AMC Asian Movie Pulse. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  15. ^ "The Monkey King Announces New Cast Members". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  16. ^ "張梓琳《大鬧天宮》演女媧 從未聽說張柏芝出演". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  17. ^ "Filmko recruits Hollywood talents for 3D Monkey King shoot". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  18. ^ "Monkey King will be the first Chinese 3D blockbuster". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  19. ^ ""Monkey King" Release Date Set". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  20. ^ Elley, Derek (April 9, 2014). "The Monkey King". Film Business Asia. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  21. ^ James Marsh (26 January 2014). "Review: THE MONKEY KING Is A Hot Mess From The Heavens". Twitch Film. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  22. ^ Maggie Lee (31 January 2014). "Film Review: ‘The Monkey King in 3D’". Variety Film Reviews. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  23. ^ "The Monkey King (Xi You Ji Zhi Da Nao Tian Gong): Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. 7 February 2014. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  24. ^ Kevin Ma (1 February 2014). "Monkey King has record opening in China". Film Business Asia. Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  25. ^ "THE MONKEY KING BREAKS 5 MAINLAND RECORDS". HKTOPTEN. 1 February 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  26. ^ Patrick Frater (2 February 2014). "‘Monkey King’ Reigns At China And Global Box Office". Variety. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  27. ^ Clifford Coonan (4 February 2014). "China Box Office Sets Single-Day Record of $41 Million, Driven by Local Films". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 6 February 2014. 
  28. ^ "Monkey King Breaks 300 Million". HKTOPTEN. 3 February 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  29. ^ "China Box Office February 24–March 2, 2014". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  30. ^ Hieu Chau (13 June 2014). "FTW: The Monkey King on DVD". Meld Magazine. Retrieved 6 February 2014. 
  31. ^ Nancy Tartaglione and David Bloom (January 10, 2015). "‘Transformers 4′ Tops 2014’s 100 Highest-Grossing International Films – Chart". Retrieved January 10, 2015. 
  32. ^ Hsia, Heidi (2014-02-12). ""The Monkey King 2" is confirmed!". Retrieved 2014-02-13. 
  33. ^ Ma, Kevin (2014-06-16). "Filmko launches RMB1 billion slate". Retrieved 2014-06-16. 

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