'Journey to the West' - Movie Review

The full title of this 2013 Stephen Chow movie is "Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons." It stars Wen Zhang as Sanzang, a "demon hunter" who tries to tame demons by reading them nursery rhymes to bring out the goodness in them. Shu Qi plays Duan, another demon hunter who enjoys the hunt and is much more effective. Sanzang is sent by his master on a journey to the west to find enlightenment and success. It's a bumpy ride, frequently interrupted by Duan who's become fascinated by him.

It's a Chow movie, so the plot is simply a construct on which to hang absurdist skits. They're meant to be funny, but again it's Chow - it's wildly hit-or-miss. The movie started particularly poorly for me: a man scares his five year old daughter by popping out of the water pretending to be a demon. He eventually convinces her it's him, and she should laugh. So she laughs as he's torn apart under water and blood blossoms to the surface. Not exactly comedic gold, and a lousy start to the film.

Shu Qi is beautiful and fairly funny, and Wen Zhang is versatile, running the gamut from comedic crying jags to Buddhist enlightenment. The critics loved this thing (94% on Rotten Tomatoes as of 2016-12-18), but I found the humour too spotty to really love it.