Film: Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons

A 2013 loose reimagination of the Chinese classic Journey to the West directed by Stephen Chow. It contains Chow's trademark mix of drama, kung fu, and slapstick comedy. Taking place before the eponymous journey west, the film shows a younger, less enlightened Tang Sanzang as he tries to protect people from demons and learns much about the world. Along the way he meets other demon hunters, learns much about himself, and gets hit. A lot.


This Film Contains Examples Of:

  • Achievements in Ignorance: Duan can't read well. So in trying to put back Tang's book of nursery rhymes, she mixed up the words and accidentally created a sutra that summoned the Buddha to strike the Monkey King down.
  • Action Girl: Duan is a very capable fighter, and something of a ladette.
  • Action Survivor: Tang has no real useful skills, and tries to take demons on with nothing but a book of nursery rhymes. This causes Duan to fall for him, as she thinks it's incredibly brave.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Completely averted. Unlike most other lighter adaptations of the original novel, the new interpretations of Sun Wukong, Zhu Bajie, and Sha Wujing are more or less portrayed as they appear in novel, in terms of the level of the atrocities committed.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The last shot is the beginning of the Journey to the West.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Tang tells Duan he loves her, and always loved her as she lay dying from wounds she took trying to protect him.
  • Animal Battle Aura
    • One of the demon hunters uses animal style kung fu. The animal whose style he's using appears behind him, though when he was first introduced it simply looked like it was a tiger fighting.
    • The Monkey King at one point charges and looks like a giant feral monkey. While he can turn into one, that scene was merely done to represent his ferocity.
  • Bald of Awesome: After spending the entire movie with long hair, Tang has his hair ripped off by the Monkey King. Then he reaches enlightenment and take a level in badass.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: The animal-style demon hunter is killed by the Monkey King who laughs at his attempt to beat him by moving like an animal.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Miss Duan (and all the other hunters) are killed by Sun Wukong, but in the process, Tang achieves true enlightenement and binds the Monkey King to Buddha's will, starting his journey of redemption.
  • Celibate Hero: Tang categorically rejects Duan's advances, stating that he's looking for "greater love," rather than lesser, romantic love. He doesn't change his mind until it's too late.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Duan's flying ring becomes Wukong's Restraining Bolt. Not to mention, the fish demon and KL Hog become Sandy and Piggy respectively.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Tang doesn't profess his love for Duan until she's dying. Since Tang doesn't have a girlfriend in the original story, this was bound to happen.
  • Doomed by Canon: Miss Duan didn't show up in the original tale, which takes place after this movie. She dies in the climax.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Duan regularly beats and harasses Tang along the movie, but it's all Played for Laughs.
  • Enlightenment Superpower: The Deus ex Machina that saves Tang is triggered by him gaining enlightenment (and a golden glow to boot).
  • Expecting Someone Taller: The demon hunters expected the Monkey King to be taller. He still kills them all.
  • Extremity Extremist: Almighty Foot solely attacks with a grossly oversized foot.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Sun Wukong. Befitting a trickster, of course. When trying to trick Tang, he was pretty helpful and nice, but the second he was freed he became a petty jerkass.
  • Flying Weapon: Prince Important fights by flicking tiny swords, which then become full size and he can control.
  • Improbable Weapon User: KL Hog's weapon of choice is a nine-pronged rake, as it is the in original story.
  • Infant Immortality: Played straight with the infant in the opening sequence, the village works together to save her. Averted with the little girl from the opening, who is eaten by the fish demon.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: One of the Monkey King's most common attacks. Interestingly, the attacks aren't just concussive but also can incinerate the target.
  • Make Way for the New Villains: KL Hog is the antagonist for most of the movie. He's easily defeated by the Monkey King even while he's imprisoned, who becomes the final boss.
  • Mama Bear: After her daughter is eaten by the fish demon, the woman from the opening grabs a Blade on a Stick and jumps in the river. She's clearly terrified, but demands the fish give her her daughter back.
  • Meaningful Rename: Tang is given the Buddhist name Tripitaka at the end of the movie.
  • Mood Whiplash: In true Stephen Chow fashion, the movie goes on a wild chase from wacky slapstick to strikingly depressing. An example is the final battle, which goes from funny-awesome-action scene to Tear Jerker very abruptly.
  • Non-Indicative Title: While there is a trek in a westward direction, the movie takes place before Tripitaka's true journey to the west featured in the novel.
  • Overly Long Gag: One of Prince Important's petal-throwers chastises him, "You should have told me sooner!" about twelve times in a row before the gag is dropped.
  • Pintsize Powerhouse: The Monkey King is smaller than any of his opponents, but is unstoppable.
  • Post-Mortem One-Liner: "It seems the Mighty Foot has stepped on a nail."
  • Prequel:
    • Could be seen as one to Journey to the West, but the original literature does tell the stories of the pilgrims from the beginning, making this more of a re-telling of their origins instead.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: A rare heroic example with the Hunters, all minor characters with their own trademark. They're all killed by the Monkey King.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: The Monkey King is pissed at Buddha.
  • Sequel Hook: The Journey to the West begins!
  • Shout-Out: One famous scene in the movie ( where Buddha becomes the size of a planet and crushes Sun Wukong with his Palm) is direct shout to Asura's Wrath, right down to nearly identical camera angles and character actions, to the point of getting quite a plagiarism controversy when it first premiered in China.
  • Superpower Lottery: The Monkey King is supremely strong, can incinerate things with a thought or shout, can shapeshift, and is Nigh Invulnerable
  • True Sight: Tang sees through the illusions at KL Hog's inn. The audience is first shown a glimpse of the illusion, then what Tang sees.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: The Monkey King can turn into an ape-like form. Given the source material, he can probably turn into more.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Duan's crew and sister vanish from the movie with no adequate explanation.
  • Yandere: Duan, full stop. She stalks Tang constantly after their first meeting, tries on multiple occasions to blackmail him, and will not under any circumstances accept "no" for an answer.
  • Zombie Advocate: Tang thinks demons can be rehabilitated and calmed through song.