Monday, August 28, 2006

Jet Li, Jackie Chan and Stephen Chow

Just call it Kung Fu Monday here, and if there's a better way to start off the week, I haven't found it.

I had not previously heard that Jet Li and Jackie Chan were teaming up for a flick, but Aint It Cool this morning had some details about what sounds like a crazy enough project it just might work.

Tentatively titled "The Handsome Monkey King" (though surely that silly title will change), it will be directed by American director Rob Minkoff, who directed the two "Stuart Little" movies and some other even lesser works. An odd choice to be sure, but this does appear to be a kids movie, so we'll see what comes of it.

According to Chinese newspaper The Beijing News, the story is inspired by both the classic Chinese novel "Journey to the West" and Chinese folk legends about the Eight Immortals.

The story begins with Monkey King (Jet Li, apparently) pillaging the heaven and being imprisoned by Jade Emperor, lord of the heaven. Thousands of years later, in present-day New York, a rather scrawny teen boy who is obsessed with Hong Kong kung fu movies walks into a pawnshop, where he discovers a cudgel.

The shopkeeper warns him that the cudgel contains magic power and no one shall touch it, but he of course does anyway and is immediately transported through time to ancient China. The cudgel is in fact the personal weapon of Monkey King, and only Monkey King can help him to get back.

Thus our young hero sets out fo find the imprisoned Monkey King and, with help from Lan Caihe (Jackie Chan), one of the Eight Immortals, free him from captivity. Monkey King decides to accompany Tripitaka (the Tang Monk) for a journey to the west and before departing, he sends the boy back home. After the adventure, the boy has become a real fighter and has learned the true meaning of kung fu.

Whew! Sorry for the long plot summary, but I wanted to share with you what, at least to me, sounds like tons of fun.

Jet Li has another movie coming up that also looks promising, though just as silly.

In what's described as his last martial arts epic, Li plays real-life martial arts legend Huo Yuanjia in "Fearless," which surely must be coming to a multiplex near you and me soon. It sounds like a Van Damme movie with an epic Chinese backdrop, with Jet fighting the world's greatest combatants in a tournament to somehow defend the honor of his country. In my mind, I'm already there.

Stephen Chow goes sci fi?

Few movies in recent years have managed to make me both laugh and smile as much of Stephen Chow's "Shaolin Soccer" and "Kung Fu Hustle," so I'll follow him just about anywhere. Even to this rather odd destination.

In a recent press conference, Chow let fly that he has delayed work on a KFH sequel to make a sci fi movie tentatively titled "Long River 7." Details are extremely sketchy, but it seems the title refers to a satellite, and the movie will involve an alien and a dinosaur.

Stephen Chow vs. a T-Rex? I say bring it on, no matter how strange it turns out to be.


Sadie Lou said...

I think American movies could stand to learn a few lessons in storytelling from our asian friends.
I adore Chinese and Japanese cinema far better than American, most times.
Your previews here have got me eagerly awaiting!

Reel Fanatic said...

I have to agree with you, Sadie ... although his last movie, "Howl's Moving Castle," left me scratching my head a little, I have to say Hiyqo Miyazaki is just about the best storyteller in the world

Sadie Lou said...

*laughing* I'm so with you on "Howl's Moving Castle". That one was a little weird for my tastes but my kid's loved it.
Spirited Away, Totoro and Kikki's Delivery Service are my favorite Miyazaki films.

Reel Fanatic said...

I just love Kiki, Sadie Lou, but my all-time favorite would have to be Porco Rosso, about the Italian fighter pilot whose turned into a pig by a curse .. it's just a great story and, of course, looks incredible

Unknown said...

I really liked "Shaolin Soccer" and this new offering could be a hit if it has any of the same charm. As for Jet Li and Chan and their upcoming project, I laughed out loud when I read the description and I think it sounds like great fun. Can't wait!

Reel Fanatic said...

It does indeed sound crazy doesn't it, Marina? I don't always like Jackie Chan's stuff, but I do like that he has a genuine interested in making intelligent movies for kids

Sadie Lou said...

You're giving me all kinds of movies for my Netflix que! Do you have netflix?

Reel Fanatic said...

I do indeed, Sadie, and I probably use it far too often .. right now though I have to admit it's clogged with two seasons worth of "Veronica Mars" in anticipation of season three, rather than any movies .. any suggestions?

Matt said...

I loved absolutely Kung Fu Hustle and really enjoyed Shaolin Soccer, but when I tried to go back a little further in to Stephen Chow's catalog, I hit The King of Comedy and found it unwatchable. It could have been because of cuts made to bring it to America (I find that the case sometimes with Asian movies), but it was the first movie in a while that I actually turned off half-way through and never looked back.

You've got my curiosity piqued about Veronica Mars. I usually avoid teenage television, but maybe I should check it out.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'd recommend it, Invisible Lizard ... Being way beyond the demographic for such shows, I usually avoid them too, but Veronica Mars is different .. The storylines are suspenseful, and the dialogue is fast and sharp

chicaleecious said...

Ditto on the question: you've got Netflix? I think I'll have to follow your site now for movie picks :).

Thanks for the movie preview too. I'm so there on Jackie and Jet, sounds like a wild ride! As for Stephen Chow, I started to become a huge fan and I'm digging through his library now myself. I don't care how silly the plots can be at times, so far, I see that while his films are absolutely HEE-LAR-IOUS, it's got heart! I'm hooked.

I must admit, being a Miyazaki fan myself, I have to say that even though other people found it silly, "Howl's Moving Castle" is actually one of my all time favorites! It's that penchant for darkness I suppose.

Last but not least, agreed on story telling... I lived in Asia part of my life and miss those films out there. What I love most about these films is the fact that it allows us to escape into just about anything, no matter how unbelieveable it may seem - the films/stories are told in a way that immerses us into those worlds.

Thanks again for the picks and the comment :).

chicaleecious said...

P.S. I can relate -- one of my name handles has the name tv junkie in there somewhere, for the fact that I'd been hooked on movies for YEARS, while I'm also a freelance movie writer for one website - just hadn't had time to write lately...

Your site is really entertaining. Great picks!!!!

Netflix share please - if you have it :).

RC said...

wow, handsome monkey king...that sounds ummm...interseting.

--RC of

Sadie Lou said...

I have Netflix too. It's awesome. I love being able to store movies on the que instead of trying to remember everything I want to see. I added your Porco Rosso today. :)
As far as suggestions go, I'm like you--I've been using my Netflix to catch up on 24 and The Office.
Maybe we could be Netflix Firends?

Reel Fanatic said...

Not sure what "Netflix Friends" means Sadie, but I'm definitely game ... fill me in, please

Sadie Lou said...

You'll notice in your account on Netflix that there is the option to invite "friends" via email. I send you an invite and you accept--after that, we can view each other's ques and leave two-cent mini reviews for each other to read.

Reel Fanatic said...

Absolutely, Sadie .. I had never heard of that function, but it does sound intriguing .. shoot me an e-mail, and I'l definitely set it up and look forward to your reviews

AtPlayWithFiber said...

The Handsome Monkey King sound very interesting!

Anonymous said...

I was recommended to Reel Fanatic by Movie Mom on Yahoo so here I am, and saw this post. I got very interested in Chinese cinema (I saw Zhang Yimou and Gong Li at the premiere of Curse of the Golden Flower)and noticed this post. I read two of the three books of this Chinese classic (about 1200 pages!) and it is a wild story with amazing adventures. The Monkey King is a serious character! Obviously you would need a 5 year TV series to cover it all but Chow and Chan are two very funny guys, so this should be very interesting. The book itself is highly magic so we will see how much CGI they decide on...

Anonymous said...

The autobiography of the legend "I am Jackie Chan" finally available for free download only for limited period of time..go ahead grab your copy..

I am Jackie Chan

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