The Monkey King Review – An Entertaining, Family-Friendly, Journey

The Monkey King, a Netflix original, brings to the screen an animated story of an abandoned Monkey who is forced to find his own way while understanding his destiny is bigger than the small borders of his village.

The film begins with voice over that establishes the time and the characters, we understand demons walked among us and dragons ruled the sea. Buddha reigned and the Immortal Ones sought his wise counsel when necessary.

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We understand that all was in order, there was balance in the universe, every person knew his place until a rock falls from a tree and cracks open, birthing a monkey with the ability to shoot light beams from his eyes. His supernatural gift disrupts the balance of nature and the Jade Emperor, voiced by Hoon Lee, immediately suggests he be handled, when from the universe comes the voice of Buddha, voiced by BD Wong, who explains this monkey has a destiny, and he must find his own way.

Born without parents, soon the infant monkey sees the other babies being nurtured by their mothers, so he tries to find a substitute parent Elder Monkey, voiced by James Sie, and attempts to join the teaching circle, without nurturing he is chaos, and his actions draw the Demon of Havoc, voiced by Andrew Kishino, on the village. Baby Monkey King is banished. He retreats to his mountain home and builds a substitute family and grows up alone.

One day the demon arrives and once again snatches one of the babies and Monkey King, now talking, and voiced by Jimmy O. Yang, is sure he can destroy the demon and while he is ridiculed again by the Elder Monkey who impresses on every child to know your place, Monkey King is determined to fight the demon and save the village.

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Then a baby monkey explains to the Monkey King he can find the ultimate weapon under the sea where the Dragon King, voiced by Bowen Yang, makes his home. Monkey King dives in and meets the ultimate weapon and companion, Stick, voiced by Nan Li, and the two begin the quest for acceptance.

With his trusty superpower The Monkey King defeats the Demon of Havoc and finally receives the acceptance and family he craves until the Elder Monkey baits him into a quest that will take his unwanted ideas of change and influence away from the village.

As Monkey King is seeking immortality, he needs to slay at least 100 demons, and soon we see he is nearing what he believes is the final obstacle in his quest. Of course, like any good con, slaying 100 demons was just the Elder Monkey's way of pushing the troublemaking Monkey King away. And now, with 100 demons conquered Monkey King is told to become immortal he must challenge the immortals and conquer them.

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This is when he meets Lin, voiced by Jolie Hoang-Rappaport, and becomes the Monkey King's faithful and trusted assistant. Together they confront a series of challenges, descending into hell to see the scrolls of life, then to the heavens to create the perfect potion that will transform the Monkey King. Soon, of course, we see that Lin is deceiving the Monkey King, and she is working for the Dragon King which sets up the finale.

The Monkey King, an engaging and entertaining story, filled with eye-popping, state-of-the-art animation, and many "morals of the story" that allow children to learn through the visuals.

While easily entertaining with some scary images for young children, we see throughout the effects of the lack of nurturing and when children are left only to nature, they lose also, finding the balance is key.

The story interpretation also adds the idea that for some leadership gifts are realized at different phases in life. Not everyone attains their goals at the same time, and while some lead while they are younger others come into their own when they have aged.

The Monkey King premieres on Netflix August 18, 2023. See it.

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Country: U.S.

Language: English.

Release Date: August 18, 2023.

Runtime: 92 minutes.

Director: Anthony Stacchi.

Producer: Peilin Chou.

Executive Producer: Stephen Chow.

Animation and Imagery By: ReelFX.

Cast: Jimmy O. Yang, Jolie Hoang-Rappaport, Nan Li, Bowen Yang, Jo Koy, Ron Yuan, Hoon Lee, B.D. Wong, Sophie Wu, Andrew Kishino, Jodi Long, James Sie, Andrew Pang, Stephanie Hsu, Kuno Inghram.

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