Monkey Goes West (1966)
Director: Ho Meng Hua
Tagline: Also starring Pigy's giant beer gut!
I was already familiar with the basic story of the Journey to the West from the famous 1980s Japanese TV series and I had wanted to see this version of the story as it is a more traditional version of the story borrowing heavily from the Chinese opera productions of the story.
Ho Fan as Tripitaka is a lot different and can actually look after himself in this version of the story. He still always takes the moral route, but is not as preachy this time around.
Yueh Hua as Monkey is great and has a lot of fun with the role while still looking good wearing fur. He does not have a cloud to fly on, but can flip through the air and travel vast distances (he tries it with Tripitaka at one point.) He is stupid enough to put on the headband that the Buddha gives him and Tripitaka reads the headache sutra (called the ‘blinding curse’) off a jade tablet. This causes trouble later on in the story when it gets nicked.
Peng Peng as Pigsy is really great in this film and steals the show in most of the scenes from Monkey with his huge gut hanging out and man-boobs jiggling when he fights, walks or moves in the slightest. He can actually put up a fight here, but Monkey still likes to pick on him by pulling his ear. Pigsy gets his own back by finding the jade with the blinding curse in Tripitaka’s luggage and reading it.
Tien Shun as Sandy is not introduced until right near the end, but he is a fearsome fighter and looks very wild.
As well as great looking sound stages, there are heaps of location shots in this film and the characters do look like they are going on a journey in the film. The sets are really great also.
I didn’t expect it, but the singing sequences really ad to the movie and at one point Pigsy starts singing “I am developing waist and back pain”, which is strange to hear. Monkey and Pigsy’s fighting singing scene would be the highlight as Monkey is in disguise as a woman and trying to trick Pigsy into revealing his true form.
This film is more to introduce the characters in the story, but it is still a great movie in its own right and I am looking forward to seeing their further adventures in Princes Iron Fan, The Cave of the Silken Web and The Land of Many Perfumes.