“The Monkey King: Havoc in Heaven’s Palace” is Donnie Yen’s return to nationalist mythology since “Journey to the West”. Shot mainly against green screens with a kinetic pace that only matches “Speed Racer”, this film is a stunning Asian cartoon. What hurts the film in terms of narrative is the fact that it’s an unbalanced mash-up of vignettes. I guess that helps get the heart of the multiple related stories, but it feels like a jumbled mess for Western audiences. But, I don’t expect Eastern audiences to understand “Streets of Fire” either.
While the film came out two years ago, Cinedigm is bringing this to VOD for wider North American audiences. If you can handle the once and future Iron Monkey playing a monkey person that wants to have Heaven fight a demonic army, then this is for you. If you can’t process that, then watch “Spotlight” again and clutch your pearls. I’ve seen better attempts at tackling the same story, but I’ve got to appreciate the visual smorgasbord. Check it out this weekend.
Release Date: 2/2/16