Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons
Stephen Chow's Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons.
Selected cinemas (110 minutes)
The 16th-century Chinese novel Journey to the West is known to a generation of Australians as the basis for the Japanese TV series Monkey.
This new fantasy from the great Hong Kong comic Stephen Chow offers an equally zany take on the same material previously tackled in his Chinese Odyssey films of the 1990s.
Chow restricts himself to a role behind the camera, with young Chinese star Wen Zhang playing Xuan Zang, a skinny, dreadlocked demon-hunter.
Spectacular fights and transformations ensue. The film is worth seeing just for its splendidly funny and alarming opening sequence, a riff on Jaws in which a waterfront village is menaced by a fish demon.
It's a tour de force of steampunk slapstick. Chow never quite manages to top this opening set piece, but it's clear the film as a whole is merely a prologue, the journey of the title doesn't kick off until the last minute.
Expect more thrilling adventures in part two.