A must read, if you don't already know ...

Written by Funn Lim



This is an opinion. Review coming soon.

2011, aka that Zhang Jizhong version

The guy who did Duke of Mountdeer (Royal Tramp) with Huang Xiaoming. Also the same guy who did Legend Of The Condor Heroes with again Huang Xiaoming as Yangguo and the ethereally beautiful and should have been Maertai Ruoxi, Crystal Liu Yifei.

At the end of each episode you get to see BTS of that particular episode.

2011 I think



As at 03.02.2012. For more updated comment, scroll below.

Aka the Zhang Jizhong version. You all know how much I love TVB's JTTW with Dicky Cheung, to the point everytime I feel like hating TVB and pop in the DVD or rewatch the reruns and I love TVB again. TVB made JTTW accessible, it made it modern and yet traditional, entertaining and yet educational, suitable for all races and yet clearly about Buddhism, the makeup is just right, the costume is just fine and yes the scenery and the effects could do with a bit of tweaking but the storytelling, reworked, modernise, rearranged and reimagined, made it to me THE BEST JTTW EVER. Dicky also gave us a very temperamental and yet handsome monkey and who can forget his "YO!" cry. BUT the best monkey is of course still Liu Xiao Ling Tong in the original JTTW from China. However these past 2 or 3 years we see a reemergence of the popularity of JTTW in various form, the latest being the Zhang Jizhong version which is said to be the most faithful to the book(s). I am watching it, and I sorta loving it because of one singular factor; the actor who plays Monkey King is superb not in his acrobatics skills (non existent - he seems to hesitate with that errr... stick I shall call it) or even his facial expressions (for very obvious reasons) but for his body language and his eyes. Never before has an actor been so limited in expressions due to the circumstances and yet so expressive. I love his very very cheeky and very very angry and scary Monkey King. I love how disrespectful he was, and how he learned to be compassionate. Basically I love him. I am however not loving Wu Jing played by Elvis Tsui (Sorry but I keep thinking him as king of Cat III movies - competent actor though) who basically has nothing to do and has yet to display the utmost loyalty I expect of him. For me, yes Evergreen Mak was annoying for all the tears but I feel he showed the qualities of Wu Jing. I am also not loving Bajie played by Zang Jinsheng simply because I hate his character BUT the actor was good actually, again limited by the obvious elements and still manage to express through eyes and body language. I am not loving Nie Yhe monk. He is good looking but so far I find him a tad annoying. Lacking the wisdom I expected but then he is very close to the book I suppose but sorry man, Kong Wah rocks! Kong Wah makes you believe a mortal of 20 odd years old can be the sifu of 3 beings whose combined age is more than 1000 years old. The demons, etc I don't quite like due to excessive make up and lack of imagination. I find their colours dreary. The heaven sequence is beautiful BUT way too much effect, too much smoke sorta thing. That makes the gods seems... seems godlike which is of course the intention but what I like about TVB JTTW is the gods and deities are almost human in nature; with faults, with things to like and dislike. Of course Feng Shaofeng as Erlang Shen is handsome and all BUT I find his Erlang Sheng for the episodes I saw very... nothing much to say. For that, yes Joe Ma wins. I love how Dicky called him 3 Eyed Kid, a clear insult. I am also eager to watch the actor who played Buddha, who is Wang Huichun who was 8th prince in Yong Zheng Wang Chao and am pleased to hear same voice so that means his voice is THAT powerful and deep. No feeling for Guanyin. Still feel TVB's is the best, as Mimi Kung always has that tiny friendly smile, making her Guanyin such a delight to watch and believably compassionate. The ladies are pretty but are indistinguishable from one another. I find their make up the worst.

The makeup is too much but works for the monkey, and the pig but the rest.. too restrictive. I almost pity the actors, stuck in latex and can't act with face. Way too much rubber in this series. I know realism is good but in a fantasy flick, it should allow for flexibility for the actors and some imagination left for the viewers. For that, I love TVB's JTTW. I mean I don't doubt the quality of this series' makeup for a TV series but I just wish for less literal interpretation and more... imaginative interpretation.

The kung fu is non existent at this moment. I find it not innovative, I find even the flying sequence spoiled by the lack of imagination, flair and too much OBVIOUS green screen. For that, I applaud Stephen Chow for the clever use of CGI and real scene. I know it is fantasy but it should look credible enough even for a fantasy. I hope as the journey progresses I will get to see some major good fighting sequences and less CGI or those effects. I mean one scene it was so badly done as monkey stood there and supposedly received something magically and yet so obvious it was 2 sequences edited together when it shouldn't look so obvious.

The storytelling may be faithful but it feels... disjointed. Some stories unfinished. I don't feel touched by the love story. I felt little for the demons. I feel for Monkey King and his sifu but the rest, none at all. That's why I love TVB's JTTW. The stories may be longwinded for some but updated and retold in such a way it works. It feels connected, it feels like it is bridged between the fantasy and the message the series is supposed to tell. It feels inspiring, touching and most of all, you feel involved. The problem with most Mainland China series of such nature is you don't feel that way. This version of JTTW wastes too much time on unnecessary scenes that wouldn't make sense for someone who has never seen JTTW of any version before; like why all of a sudden Monkey went crying and insisted Bajie patrol the hills? We know it is because he wants to play a trick on Bajie. But the series was too sudden. And I feel by weaving together Bajie's supposed side story of lovesick nature with his eventual mission to India in TVB's version, it just makes for funny and at times touching watch. Like his 1000 love punishment. I laughed so hard. I don't see that sort of personalisation in this JTTW. In fact this JTTW is dominated by monkey king whilst at least in TVB's version there is am effort to balance and give fair treatment to all characters. The villains also just didn't garner much pity unlike that 3 strike the white bone demon in TVB's JTTW, my favourite of the story. You pity the demon and yet understood Wukong's predicament and yet blame the monk and yet understood his frustration. This story is also by far the best in this JTTW but somehow lacking in that personal touch for the stories of the demon and our heroes.

The worst is so many places credited as the backdrop that I realised they'r really backdrop. Most scenes the actors film in front of the green/blue screen and rarely on site except for some small scene and even then all those sites rarely fully utilised. For this Qiong Yau should be applauded. Did you see that disaster called New HZGG? Disaster yes, but scenery worthy of all the HD in the world and so colourful. JTTW should have been that. But yet the actors stuck in front of green screens, even in scenes they were supposed to be travelling, obviously green screen. I mean what a waste!! I know the logistics is difficult, as shown at the end of each episode with the BTS sequences BUT come on! Less green screen, more real scenery!!

But the best of the best, the themesong. I don't have anything bad to say about the themesong; serene, beautiful, peaceful. I hope I can find its soundtrack some day.

But don't let my criticisms deter you from watching this. It is still highly entertaining and you have got to watch Wu Yue as Sun Wukong. He is a mixed between Dicky and the original Liu Xiao Ling Tong, but neither the dexterity of the old master nor the nimbleness of Dicky. But he excels in the little things; the way he moved his fingers, the way he looked at people, his eyes. Like I said, he was so limited by that stupid rubber latex that it is almost frustrating to imagine how he would have look facially but he made it all up with body language. For that I am loving this JTTW even if everything else is just... 50-50.

I am following this series very closely now, which is at I think Episode 40 and I can safely say I am a huge fan of this adaptation. My love for JTTW TVB version is unblemished, because these 2 are so different in execution and concept. Still too much rubber, still too much CGI but the action scenes are getting better, the performances are great. Story wise still a big disjointed, as in there's no huge emotional thing between demons and demons which is what set TVB version apart, but this version is wonderful in the sense it is sometimes quite short and concise. Although some stories are just too long and a few are repetition. I am loving this Wukong, which the more I see, the more Dicky Cheung I see in him. Clearly he took inspiration in various performances he must have seen. But the themesong is the one that gets me each time, I have goosebumps listening to it. I will post it when I upload it and find the youtube clip. Whilst the characters are expectedly flawed, and Wujing still has nothing to do, I feel this may be more on point with regards to the books than any other version. So for best Wukong, see the original. For faithful adaptation, see this one. But TVB version remains the most faithful in terms  of the spirit of JTTW, spiritually. What TVB version did which others failed is to adapt it in such a way that it is easily understood, connected between the dots and presented in a package that is great entertainment. But I am loving this version also. Beautiful! 

I swear I thought the actress was Charmaine Sheh when I saw the queen in that episode where the queen was kidnapped by the demon for 3 years!! Looks so much alike!!


  1. Huang Xiaoming is one of the greatest chinese actors of all time. Absolutely love his acting as the villian in the movie The Sniper 2009. Looking forward to watching more of his movies in future.


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