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Plot:

On the way to India to get some holy scrolls, priest Tripitaka and his followers are led by Monkey and implored by a princess to protect her people from a warlord and his brother. They’ve taken control of the palace and its riches and turned the royal family into terrapin tortoises. Monkey and co must defeat the evil warlords.

Also Known As: The Adventures of Super Monkey, Monkey Magic: The Movie, Monkey Magic, Saiyûki

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  • tov-grishina-militsa-bogdanovna
    tov grishina militsa bogdanovna

    MONKEY MAGIC has a somewhat complex history. It’s the filmed version of a short-lived 2006 Japanese television series based on the classic TV show MONKEY, which was much-loved by western audiences for its bizarre story lines and incredibly bad dubbing. The whole story was original written centuries ago as a Chinese novel entitled JOURNEY TO THE WEST. Like MONKEY before it, MONKEY MAGIC approaches the material from a child-friendly perspective, going for light-hearted and non-serious at every stage, but unlike MONKEY, it’s a real misfire.One of the reasons that MONKEY works so well is the nostalgia surrounding it: the world was a lot bigger back in the ’70s, Asian productions were novelties, and the bad dubbing and slapdash production values were part of the appeal. This modern variant, with CGI effects and a whole new cast, has absolutely nothing to recommend it. The script is puerile and seems to be aimed at an audience whose collective age is no older than five years. The actors are fairly poor, and even worse are the characters, who act so over-the-top as to be intensely irritating, not least Monkey himself.The CGI effects are pretty bad, it has to be said, and the long and lengthy scenes of action are silly and inane. There are occasional flashes of inspiration, but to be fair these seem to either have been taken from the old TV Show or the original novel. Certainly I can’t imagine this modern-day retelling to have received much acclaim in the west; fans should go back to the original show if they want to enjoy themselves.

  • stacey-soto
    stacey soto

    One of the shows that I still think fondly of was the UK dubbed version of the Kokusai Hoei/Nihon TV program “Saiyuki” (AKA Monkey or Way To The West) which ran in Japan from 1978-1979. The series was loosely based on the famous Chinese novel, “Hsi Yu Chi” (Literally: “Record Of A Journey To The West”) by Wu Cheng-en (1505-1580), which in turn was based on the semi-legendary pilgrimage of the priest, Hsuan-Tsang (602-664 AD) also known as Tripitaka, to India in the 7th century.While the pilgrimage is historical fact, in time certain liberties were introduced to the story, turning it into a “supernatural adventure” of spiritual exploration. There have literally been hundreds of adaptations of the story in China and Japan from the 1960’s “Saiyuki” cartoon (AKA Alakazam The Great based on Tesuka Osamu’s Manga “My Son Goku”) to the space action anime “SF (Science Fiction) Saiyuki – Starzingers” (AKA Spaceketters, 1979) by Matsumoto Leiji. Of course the most popular reinterpretation of the story took the form of the immensely popular “Dragon Ball” series (1986-1989) written by Toriyama Akira. Other live action adaptations have since shown on TV including one in 1984, another in 1994 and even a TV special with the beautiful Miyazawa Rie portraying Sanzouhoshi in 1993.The most recent adaptation of the timeless tale took the form of Fuji TV’s 2006 series “Saiyuki” which set itself apart from the others above by going back to the wacky comedy and action of the 70s series.Sawada Kensaku’s “Saiyuki” is the “eiga ban” (movie version) of the Fuji TV series and brings back many of the TV drama cast for this big screen version.Noble priest Sanzouhoshi (Fukatsu Eri) and “yokai” companions water spirit/kappa Sai Gojo (Uchimura Teruyoshi, one half of comedy duo Unchannanchan), pig spirit Chohakkai (Ito Atsushi from the TV series “Densha Otoko”) and the “irrepressible” monkey spirit Son Goku (Katori Shingo from SMAP) are still on their quest to Tenjiku/Ghandara (India) via the “Silk Road” (oddly similar to Dorothy’s trek to OZ on the “Yellow Brick Road”).On their way they encounter the spunky princess Reimi (Tabe Minako) and her guardsman Buntoku (Tanihara Shosuke) of the Tiger Kingdom. Once a lush, fruitful and peaceful land, it was turned into a desert wasteland by the evil demon siblings, Silver King and Gold King (Kishitani Goro and Kaga Takeshi). They even place a hex on Reimi’s parents (Mitani Koki and Aitsuki Akiko) turning them into turtles. Hearing the stories of Sanzouhoshi and her companions’ battles with other yokai and demons, Reimi has been offering vast riches and fortune in an effort to recruit them to her aid. Unfortunately this only succeeded in bringing out opportunistic doppelgangers and pretenders, among them the beautiful thief Rin Rin (Mizukawa Asami).Sanzouhoshi agrees to help Reimi seek out her grandfather, Ryusei (Kobayashi Nenji) who is said to possess a magical orb that can cure her parents, and thus the group head for the snow capped mountains of Northern China. However Rin Rin discovers that Reimi had made a deal with Kinkaku Oh and Ginkaku Oh to get the orb for them (the orb turns out to be a power source for one of their mystical machines which would enable them to cast the World into total eternal darkness). Rin Rin warns the other but stubborn Goku refuses to break his promise to Reimi and continues on with her to obtain the orb even though he realizes it will be handed over to the evil brothers.Once the orb is obtained from Ryusei, Goku and Reimi are attacked by Kinkaku Oh (who was sent by his brother to get the orb and kill the Princess). He had captured Sanzouhoshi and was holding her captive in a magical bottle. They are saved by Rin Rin and the old hermit Roshi (Okura Koji) who Chohakkai and Sai Goji had found buried underground. With the team has regrouped they head back to Tiger Kingdom to stop the demon brothers from turning the world black.Director Sawada, who directed one of my favorite J-Doramas “Lipstick” as well as “Pride” and “Beach Boys” succeeds at making the film “Saiyuki” just as fun and exciting as both the 2006 drama series and the original 70s series.Katori Shingo’s manic and often irritating performance as Goku was a bit over-the-top and I kind of prefer Sakai Masaaki’s more controlled performance in the original 70s TV series. Uchimura Teruyoshi’s (Unchan) performance was surprisingly mellow considering that he is known for being more off-the-wall in his antics as part of comedy duo Unchannanchan. In a funny cameo partner Nanbara Kiyotaka(Nanchan) portrays a “Fake Goku” early in the film. I kind of liked Uchimura’s portrayal of Sai Gojo and thought it was a bit of a step up from Kishibe Shiro of the original. Ito Atsushi’s version of Chohakkai was okay but definitely not as great as Nishida Toshiyuki’s hammy performance in the original series.Fukatsu Eri (Odoru Dai Shosasen/AKA Bayside Shakedown) is a worthy successor to a role made famous by the beautiful model/actress Natsume Masako who died tragically at the mere age of 27. Tabe Mikako (Hinokio, Sailor Moon Musical, Yoru No Picnic) makes for a cute heroine as Reimi.The villains in particular were quite a pleasant surprise with Kishitani Goro (Brothers, Crows Zero, Diamond Girl, Returner) portraying the sinister speed demon Ginkaku Dai Oh (Silver King) and Kaga Takashi (Ultraman Zeius, Death Note, Chairman Kaga of Iron Chef) as his equally diabolical knife wielding brother Kinkaku Dai Oh (Gold King). While most of the CGI effects were very good, particularly the sky duel scene between Kinkaku Oh and Goku, some miniature and blue screen effects did look a bit fake. In all I found “Saiyuki” to be a great adventure film and a worthy tribute to the 70s series.