Tuesday, July 5, 2011
The many Chinese language films based on the classic novel Journey to the West may be a mixed bag, but to the extent that they focus on that epic’s most memorable character, the Hanuman-like Monkey King, they at least guaranty a good time. Case in point, Monkey King With 72 Magic. Though many of its sets are composed of little more than fog and painted backgrounds, this Taiwanese fantasy compensates for its material shortcomings with an antic energy that would do its mischievous subject proud.
Thrilling Sword -- bursting into the world fully formed and overflowing with manic energy. Actor Ting Wa-Chung -- who the previous year starred as Red Boy in Chang Cheh’s pass at the Monkey King Mythos, Fantastic Magic Baby –- plays the character as the usual ticcy perpetual motion machine, employing constant acrobatics that place the film’s action somewhere between the more mannered, Chinese Opera style of the aforementioned Cheh joint and that of more typical Taiwanese kung fu films.