Movie of the Month:
dà shèng gūi lái
As you sit in your room thinking about what to do in your free time, there is something nearly unprecedented happening all around you – millions of Chinese people are lining up to see what has turned into one of the highest-grossing Chinese films in theaters thus far – Monkey King: Hero is Back. （dà shèng gūi lái 大圣归来）
The Pig (zhū bā jiè) is the focus of ridicule throughout the novel and this movie. He is basically a shape-shifting pig man, with the on-going joke being that his shape-shifting powers are really bad. For example he will shape shift into another character and look exactly like them except for the small problem of his giant pig nose remaining. At one point in the movie he threatens to turn into a powerful character from Chinese mythology but unintentionally turns himself into a domestic cat instead.
The Earth Gods (tǔ dì gōng) appear in this movie following the main characters around at various points. Although they don’t play a significant role it is an interesting cultural reference, and even today you can see incense sticks left in the ground in some of the older residential areas, particularly in rural areas, as people (usually the older generation) worship these gods.
As a kids movie the plot is quite simple; a young monk (actually just a child) tries to protect a baby from being abducted by demons. In the process he accidently stumbles upon and awakens the monkey king, who has been sealed away in a mountain by the Buddha. At first the monkey king isn’t too happy to help the child, but then the kid helps defeat a rock monster sent to keep him in the mountain, after which the monkey king gradually warms to the child.
The plot is simple but entertaining, and seems very much like a Chinese attempt at doing a kung-fu panda style movie. On all levels it seems to succeed. The animation is great and for the Mandarin student the dialogue, along with the plot, are fairly simple and shouldn’t be a problem. The movie, after all, is originally intended for Children.
If you really want to understand a bit about Chinese history and folk culture, this movie is a good start. This review was writh help from George Borrelli