‘The final showdown’
The Monkey King: Reborn is a 2021 Chinese animated film about the titular trickster trying to rescue his master from the King of Demons.
Directed by Yunfei Wang from a screenplay co-written with Xiaoyu Wu.
After short-tempered trickster Monkey King is insulted while visiting a temple with his master Tang Monk, he destroys a magical tree and accidentally releases the ancient King of Demons, who kidnaps Tang Monk as revenge for his long imprisonment.
Now, Monkey King and his fellow disciples must rescue their master within three days, before the Demon King regains his full power and unleashes his armies to destroy the earth.
“The Monkey King Reborn starts from comedy and raucous slapstick and gradually becomes more serious, then all hell (literally) breaks loose, and things get serious. This all-ages movie teaches Buddhist lessons that life is suffering and the need to let go of ego and attachments with a sentimentality that is shamelessly manipulative but completely typical of Chinese storytelling.” Bleeding Cool
” …The Monkey King Reborn is a fairly standard animated fantasy affair with plenty of colorful visuals and superpowered battles to satiate the cravings of all mainstream audiences. Beyond that though, the story can be both a difficult one to settle into for those unfamiliar with the Journey to the West lore and it’s not deep enough to say anything refreshing about the long-standing characters or their plights.” Blood Brothers
“While it might feel like they didn’t have a handle on what kind of audience they were directing the film towards, one has to allow for the cultural differences as way of explanation. This is a gorgeous film to look at, but the paper-thin plot and sometimes unnecessary dialogue might put some off. My advice is just to watch it and get into the moment…” Cinema 365
“Snappy banter and lively adventure predominate as the Monkey King must rectify his mistakes and battle the powerful primordial demon. It’s a mostly family-friendly tale filled with colorful characters and plenty of dramatic fights. The storytelling isn’t particularly innovative but serves as a fine introduction if you are unfamiliar with Chinese folklore.” DoBlu
“If you allow yourself to just let the story flow without trying to latch on to any kind of logic and embrace the spectacle, it’s really good fun, as long as you don’t mind a wildly uneven tone, the heavy sense that 3D was a main component of fight choreography resulting in some repetitious stylized shots, and a script that teeters closer to thin than simple […] The Monkey King: Reborn entertains and sometimes that’s enough.” Elements of Madness
“While the animation is nicely rendered with soft focus, the demons are a tad unimaginative. Bajie looked like the Fishman from The Shape of Water, and the demons were not scary. Buddhist depictions of demons are typically frightening but for better or worse, “The Monkey King: Reborn” keeps it family-friendly. I ultimately appreciated the film’s message of equality, but I do not plan on watching it again.” Irish Film Critic
” …this really is not an animated film for young children. Sun Wukong is prone to cussing and his big battle with the Father of Demons gets impressively brutal. On the other hand, adult wuxia fans will appreciate the action […] much richer visually than Hero is Back. It is a wild, chaotic ride, but that is how we like to see the Monkey King roll.” J.B. Spins
“It’s a shame that we got to know Wukong and friends so little within the confines of the film, or else these moments could have made even more of an impact rather than feeling bolted on. Of course, it wouldn’t be a parable without these teachable moments, so it might as well be in the form of a knockdown CGI fight. Sure, it’s entertainment with a heavy-handed message. But it’s entertaining enough.” UK Film Review
“Selling a positive message of self-acceptance and universal equality The Monkey King: Reborn also boasts a series of thrilling and elegantly drawn action sequences as the trio face off against the forces of darkness, along with some zany humour and Wukong’s characteristically anarchic energy…” Windows on Worlds
In the USA, The Monkey King: Reborn was released on Blu-ray and DVD by Well Go USA on December 7th 2021 in an edition that includes both the original Mandarin-language voice track with English subtitles and an English dub.
Voice cast and characters:
Xuecen Bai … Guanyin
Zhongyang Baomu … Zhenyuanzi
Jiang Bian … Sun Wukong
Roly Gutiérrez … Zhu Baijie
Donald Guzzi … Many-Eyed Ghost
Jason Kesser … Sun Wukong
Shangqing Su … Tang Sanzang
Tu-Te-Ha-Meng … White-eyebrowed King
Lei Zhang … Yuandi
Original Chinese title:
西游记之再世妖王 aka Xīyóujì zhī zài shì yāo Wáng