Thursday, May 22, 2014

Journey to the West (Magnet Blu-ray)

Let’s battle some crazy demons together! These demons will take the form of many things you may think you have seen before but in fact are larger and stranger than most “demons” you’ve seen. These aren’t the Lamberto Bava demons of Italy. They are the Hong Kong, indestructible, punch taking, battle tested demons of Stephen Chow in his rather grandiose new feature released by Magnet called Journey to the West. Not only is this movie filled with some pretty clever effects work, unique demonry and plenty of action, but healthy dose of comedy as well.

Synopsis from Magnet:

In a world plagued by demons who cause great human suffering, young demon hunter Xuan Zang risks his all to conquer a water demon, a pig demon and the demon of all demons, Sun Wukong. Adhering to his firm belief in giving of one’s self for the greater cause, he embraces the demons as his disciples. However, in order to atone for their own sins and save the common people, the four of them must embark on a journey to the West that’s full of challenges.

Now before you get the bucket and think that I’m dripping wet for Journey to the West I’ll tell you that it is a well-crafted picture that isn’t exactly my cup of tea. My cup of tea has Motley Crue on the soundtrack asking who will save their souls (Vince Neil… it certainly isn’t Bava). I prefer my demon films gorier and grittier and all around LESS fun still containing comedy but perhaps a bit less obvious. I believe you call the kind of movie I’m into campy. Journey to the West is some in your face obvious physical comedy done for laughs and while funny it doesn’t convey the serious epic, nearly Mortal Kombat battles that the director throws up on screen.

Yes, JTTW is a fine narrative complete with well developed characters for which you can identify or have an emotional response with, but ultimately you’re looking at a very lighthearted move that wants to have a much darker side. Imagine, perhaps, that you are playing a video game and trying to save the world from demons. Do you want to play that game on the Wii or on the Playstation 4 (or Xbox One if that’s your thing)? That’s probably the best difference between the movie that I WANTED to see evolve out of a fun, tried and true idea like saving the world from Demons. I wanted Playstation 4, they gave me Neo Geo. For many of you, you will love Neo Geo. I love NES myself, but not when it comes to movies about demonic global dominance. It’s simply too  happy. Many does that make me sound like a curmudgeon.

This movie looks fantastic though for all my lack of enthusiasm for the story line or the way in which the battle is fought against the underworld. The effects are well crafted, CG based monsters that look perfectly brilliant against the nearly surreal backdrop Chow has unveiled before you.  This is complimented well on the Blu-ray disc which is most impressive. There’s a stunt and special effects feature as well as some other sit-downs with the cast, director, gag reel, production design feature and choreography display.

Note: 1080p HD 2.35:1 AR in Mandarin or English with English subs or various other languages.

I think action fans, Kung Fu fans and fans of lighthearted good vs. evil battles will find this to be exceptionally good. I’m glad I had the chance to check it out even if it didn’t quite meet my personal expectations post-trailer viewing.

-Doc Terror

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