Journey to the West (2011) (Original title "新西游记", "Xin Xi You Ji" or "New Journey to the West") TV series is a 60-episode Chinese TV series and the most recent TV series to be based on Journey to the West in China.
It is directed by Zhang Jizhong, who is best known for the production of the much-praised 1995 CCTV adaptation of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, as well as adaptations of Louis Cha's wuxia novels. He is also known for building large film cities with the support of local government authorities, sets that have later been developed into tourist attractions. With a budget of above 100 million Yen, this is one of the most expensive Chinese Drama to date (through perhaps not on the level of Three Kingdoms). Production for this series started on 12 September 2009, and it was first broadcast in mainland China on 28 July 2011 on TVS.
What makes this TV series different form the original 1986 version is that, while the 1986 version was a more or less straightforward adaptation of the novel, the 2011 version expands on many of the philosophical themes that were seen in the original novel and adds more characterization to the characters. It also adapts many storylines in the novel that were not seen in the 1986 or 2010 Mainland China TV versions, making it more or less the most complete adaptation of Journey to the West to date.
It is noted for its excessive use of CGI and special effects. For instance, many of the fights and special effects had heavy use of CGI and many of the true forms of many of the demons and antagonists encountered are completely CGI rendered. At the end of each episode there are behind the scenes footage showing how each episode is made.
The new version of Journey to the West is easily one of the most divisive and polarizing works in Chinese TV. With opinions varying on it being one of the best and in-depth adaptations, possibly on par with or even better than the 1986 classic, or a overblown, muddled and bombastic mess that focused too much on CGI and special effects over characterization and writing, as well as tried to cram too much into a 60-episode series. However, given the fact that much of the backlash arguably came from the popularity of the 1986 series for 25 years, a degree of the backlash can be traced back to Nostalgia Filter.
As of now, Zhang Jizhong is also planning to create a movie trilogy based on Journey to the West, with each installment costing approximatly 100 million to make, making this one of the most expensive Chinese films ever made.
This series provides examples of:
- Anti-Hero: Wukong of course.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence:
- As expected, happens to our heroes in the finale after the completion of the quest.
- Also happens to Mr.Kou see Death by Adaptation below
- Death by Adaptation:
- Mr. Kou, in the original story, his soul is retrieved from hell and his life is extended by 12 years, in this adaptation however he dies and becomes a Buddist deity.
- Also the Nine Headed Roc, who originally survives his battle with Wukong, but is killed here by Erlang Shen.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Monkey is choleric, Pigsy is Sanguine, Sandy is Phlegmatic, Tripitaka is Melancholic
- Scenery Porn
- Spared By Adaptation: The Nine-Eared Macaque.