Monkey King 2, The (Blu-ray) (2016)

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Released 2-Nov-2016

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Theatrical Trailer
Music Video-Eastern Eye Trailers x 4
Trailer-x 3 for other Madman releases
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2016
Running Time 119:08
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Cheang Pou-Soi
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Donnie Yen
Chow Yun-Fat
Aaron Kwok
Hai Yitian
Peter Ho
Xia Zitong
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Christopher Young


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Mandarin DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     The story of the Buddhist monk Xuanzang and his travels with his companions, including Sun Wukong the Monkey King, from China to India to seek the sacred books has been part of Chinese myth since it was first told by Wu Cheng-en in the Ming Dynasty. There have been numerous film treatments of the story, and a TV series, and recently the film Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons gave us the back story of Xuanzang while The Monkey King gave us the story of how Sun Wukong came to be imprisoned by the Buddha in a cave under Five Finger Mountain for 500 years for his misdemeanours.

     The Monkey King 2 commences 500 years after the end of the first film when Xuanzang (William Feng), travelling to the west, inadvertently releases Wukong (Aaron Kwok who replaces Donnie Yen in the role, Kwok having played the Bull Demon King in the first film) from his mountain imprisonment. Wukong is tasked by the goddess to protect Xuanzang on his journey and they are soon joined by Pig Demon Bajie (Xiao Shen Yang) and the dim-witted blue Buffalo Demon Sha Wujing (Him Law). But their journey is being watched by the White-Boned Demon (Gong Li), who needs to kill Xuanzang in order to achieve immortality. Then, when the travellers arrive in a desert city where numerous children have been abducted, apparently by the White-Boned Demon, the King (Xiang Fei) entreats them to get the children back. But it seems that the White-Boned Demon may not be the only one who wants Xuanzang dead. Can Wukong and Xuanzang put aside their differences long enough to defeat the White-Boned Demon and find the lost children?

     The Monkey King 2 is a feast for the eyes, a colourful, fantastical adventure of CGI creatures and effects that is funny, exuberant and very entertaining. The colours of the landscapes, sets and costumes are simply gorgeous, with vibrant reds, yellows, blues and greens, plus the pristine white of the snow. Almost every scene is replete with digital effects, most pretty good; there are monsters, including dragons, snakes, a boar, part human creatures, billowing smoke and cloaks, people fly through and above the clouds, mountains disintegrate, fighting skeletons appear from the snow and a whole lot more. The director again is Soi Cheang, who directed The Monkey King. Like that film, the human characters in The Monkey King 2 are overwhelmed by the CGI effects and the prosthetics; it is reported that it took Aaron Kwok six hours to he fitted into the monkey suit and it certainly seems to hinder his movement. Nevertheless, his monkey mannerisms are amusing and he does a good job. Even better is accomplished actress Gong Li, leading lady for Chen Kaige. She is a treat and, at 50 years of age, looks radiant as she chews up the scenery.

     When I reviewed The Monkey King I said that I enjoyed the spectacle but found it hard to get into the film as the human elements were secondary to the CGI. I think The Monkey King 2 is a better film; it not only has Gong Li but it finds time for some quiet moments amid the exuberant action and slapstick to reflect upon beliefs, loyalty, friendship, sacrifice and mortality.

     The Monkey King 2 was made in 3D and certainly things fly at the camera frequently, although it is not overdone. I only received the 2D version to review although a 3D / 2D version has also been released by Madman.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The Monkey King 2 is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original ratio, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     This was a heavily manipulated print but it looks gorgeous. The close ups and costumes are beautifully detailed and the colours spectacular; the reds, yellows, greens and blues are deep and vibrant and many scenes have a golden tint. The blacks are solid, shadow detail impressive and the white snow pristine, making a nice contrast during the skeleton fight.

     Despite all the CGI and swirling action I noticed no marks or artefacts. Indeed, this is one of the best prints I have seen for a long time.

     The white subtitles in American English are timely and easy to read. I noticed no errors. They are not burnt in.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio is Mandarin DTS-MA HD 5.1.

     This is a loud and enveloping audio track, nicely supplementing the video. Dialogue is clear and centred and the surrounds are constantly in use for music, whips and weapons, flying people and demons, the beat of demon wings, the crash of mountains and other impacts. There are plenty of directional effects in the rears as people flash by or debris lands. The sub-woofer rumbled with crashes, falling debris, music and just general bass, giving a nice feel.

     The original score by Christopher Young was epic and pretty much over the top, which supports the visuals well.

     Lip synchronisation was generally pretty good.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Theatrical Trailer (4:11)

Music Video (3:37)

     The song used during part of the closing credits.

Trailers (4:35)

     Trailers for Wu Dan, Ip Man and The Monkey King.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The The Monkey King 2 is not due for Blu-ray release in Region A US until January 2017. The Region A Hong Kong release has both a 3D and 2D version. It also adds a making of to the trailer and music video we have; the feature has English subtitles, but I have no information about the quality of the making of or if it has subtitles. Call it a draw for now.

Summary

     The Monkey King 2 is loud and spectacular. To my mind it is a better film than the first; it still has wall to wall visual and digital effects but it does find time for some quiet moments amid the exuberance and colourful spectacle, and it has Gong Li.

     The video is stunning, the audio loud and enveloping. Extras are minimal.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, December 05, 2016
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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