The Monkey King 2 review by Bobby Blakey
In 2014, Donnie Yen took on the role of the Monkey King for the feature film aptly titled The Monkey King. Now Well Go USA is bringing the next chapter in the series to the US with The Monkey King 2 featuring Shaofeng, Xiao Shen-Yang, Chung Him Law and Aaron Kwok once again starring in the film but this time taking on the role of The Monkey King himself. Could this film bring more of the magical action to fun life or should the king have remained buried?
The Monkey King 2 follows a travelling monk who is stranded in a wasteland forcing The Monkey King to escort him across the land to retrieve sacred scriptures and protect him from an evil demon. This is not your typical martial arts film as it does feature some decent action, but it relies heavily on the supernatural effects and visuals than anything else. There is obviously the silly nature of it all when you first see it with the Monkey King traveling around with a blue man and pig faced guy, but as you get more invested you just buy into it all just as if it was something like Lord of the Rings or an alien from Star Wars. The story is fine and works to keep the story light without getting too deep, but never goes full ridiculous. They try really hard to make you see this film for the fantasy it is and not let the visuals create something aching more towards a kids film. There are moments that are pretty silly and take you out of what the film really wants to be, but if you just let the fantasy of it all take hold it is actually pretty fun.
There is plenty of action, but it is far from some of the best martial arts in cinema, but it’s not trying to be. They are all in with the use of these characters supernatural abilities. Visually this movie is gorgeous from beginning to end. The choice of keeping all the colors so bright makes it a visual treat for the senses that works on every level even when things are darker. The backgrounds and colors kind of become a character in itself and work to keep the tone of each character feel new and different while all being a part of the same universe. The effects are great, but you can see that they were designed for 3D so seeing them in 2D is a bit distracting sometimes, but not so much it hurts the finished film.
Everyone does a good job here with Kwok bringing his own take on the character that is pretty different than Yen from the first film in a good way. He brings a straight realism to an unrealistic character while maintain the walk and behavior like a monkey throughout. This is a film that won’t work for everyone because it is a bit out there and silly at times, but I have always loved the stories of the Monkey King in their varying incarnations so found myself all in here as well.