top of page


The spryly animated and stupendously entertaining The Monkey King deftly mixes classic Chinese folklore with modern storytelling and contains one of the most fun villains in recent history.

In the past it has proven to be a tricky proposition to adapt China's most sacred mythology - the epic Journey to the West - for audiences unfamiliar with the tale. But The Monkey King, a prequel of sorts to the main mythology, pleasingly brakes that curse.

The picture finds a perfect balance between the classic elements of The Monkey King - a simian who longs to sit alongside the immortal gods - and an irreverant, modern take on the subject. The action is fun, the pace is crisp and the animation is beautiful: three essential elements to make this feature stand out among other recent Netflix animations.

On top of that The Monkey King smartly uses humour to further the plot and etch character traits in a minumum of time. This is most evident in The Dragon King, the main, vain, song-happy antagonist, who might be the most fun villain in movies since Alan Rickman's one-two punch of Hans Gruber and the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Not everything is a standout in the picture though. The morals are predictable, the visuals lean a little too much towards the easy cliché and (mostly) the makers are so intent on keeping the tempo high that they miss opportunies to give the characters some much needed depth.

Nevertheless, those are just minor quibbles in a film that might not have the emotional heft to make it into a classic, but delivers all the goods when it comes to pure entertainment value.

release: 2023

director: Anthony Stacchi

starring: Jimmy O. Yang, Bowen Yang, Jolie Hoang-Rappaport, Hoon Lee


bottom of page