The most funniest film that I’ve watched in the “Swordsmen, Gangsters and Ghosts” section of the “A Century of Chinese Cinema” at the BFI: British Film Institute was no doubt this film.

Stephen Chow as Monkey King

Stephen Chow as Monkey King

Ok, this film was in two parts. First being the “Pandora’s Box” and second “Cinderella. I would write about both parts in this review. The first part I would say was funnier than the second part.  Being a non-Chinese myself, I could only watch the performances and read the English subtitles to understand what was happening, but I had wished that I understood Cantonese because the level of comedic dialogues in the film were so funny, that the Chinese audience sitting around me could not stop laughing.

(L-R) Karen Mok as Bak Jing Jing and Yammie Lam as Spider Woman

(L-R) Karen Mok as Bak Jing Jing and Yammie Lam as Spider Woman

This film was said to have had a very bad start when it came out first in Hong Kong in 1994. It got bad reviews and was considered a flop, but later in 1999 and 2000, this film became quite famous among the young audiences. The young audience brought this film back into the spotlight, and thus it became known all over Hong Kong and Mainland China as a Cult Classic. Inspired from the classic novel ‘The Journey to the West’, the story and the characters are all turned funny and very sarcastic.

Stephen Chow as Joker

Stephen Chow as Joker

Stephen Chow, considered to be one of the most successful comedy actors in Hong Kong stars in this film and fills the film with his slapstick actions, sarcastic and extremely funny way of delivering the dialogues and equally funny body language. He plays the Monkey/Joker, two very different characters which he portrays very perfectly in his own style.  Director Jeffrey Lau did a good job choosing Stephen Chow as the lead character in the film. Surprisingly, the Director himself has also acted in the film alongside Stephen Chow with a minor but an equally funny role as Gradpa Buddha/Grapes. Well, one role was not hard for Jeffrey Lau to play, and that was Grapes. Why? Well, it’s for you to find out if you watch the film. Ng Man Tat, another well-known Hong Kong actor also portrays two characters as Pigsy and Joker’s second in command. Ng Man-Tat gives a very satisfying performance, which I would say was as good as Stephen Chow’s. Law Ker-ying plays the role of the Longevity Monk, who has a very bad habit of talking nonstop, which also is a blessing for him because he gets himself out of trouble by doing that. There are not one but three leading ladies. Two of the female characters Spider woman played by Yammie Lam and Bak Jing Jing played by Karen Mok, who with the progression of the movie change from being villains to heroines and well, one of them turns into a villain ago. The third female character is of Zixia, played by Athena Chu, who also becomes the love interest of the Monkey/Joker.

Athena Chu as Fairy Zixia

Athena Chu as Fairy Zixia


This film for me is an epic, a comedic epic I must say. Other than being a comedy film, it also has elements of drama and ofcourse lots of Kung Fu and Sword fights. Some of the scenes are quite physically challenging, as the characters while fighting have to kind of fly/jump in the air, and fight against more than one person. The fighting choreography done in the film I must say was very well done, because the slapstick actions had to be intermingled with serious fighting, which I can easily explain by taking the name of just one man, who does this all over again in his movies without boring his audiences, and that is Jackie Chan.

Ng Man-Tat as Joker's second in command also plays as Pigsy, standing next to Stephen Chow.

Ng Man-Tat as Joker’s second in command also plays as Pigsy, standing next to Stephen Chow.

In the first part: Pandora’s Box, 500 years ago the Monkey king is thrown out of heaven by the Goddess of Happiness. In the present time the Monkey King turns into a Joker. Two jealous women Spider Woman and Bak Jing Jing fight over him in order to find out if he really is the Monkey King. Joker also keeps getting visions of himself as once being the Monkey King, but he doesn’t believe it. After finding the Pandora’s Box by chance, he goes back in time to save one of the jealous women.

In the second part: Cinderella, the Joker finds himself gone back in time to 500 years ago. There he comes across fairy Zixia who takes the Pandora’s Box as her own and also after removing her sword from its sheath falls in love with Joker. Fairy Zixia is kidnapped by the Bull King who wants to marry her, and Joker wants to get the Pandora’s Box to go back in time, and also, the visions of him being a Monkey King also become stronger and stronger. Thus Joker gets intertwined in all these problems at once and struggles hard to solve them.

Winner of four awards including Best Screenplay in 15th Annual Hong Kong Film Awards, and Best Actor, Best Screenplay and Recommended Film in the 2nd Annual Hong Kong Films Critics Society Awards, I must say that this film is a must see. If you do want to watch it, watch it in one sitting, especially if it’s being shown in a cinema hall.

Director: Jeffrey Lau

Producer:   Kwok-fai YeungSamson LeungKeung Chan

Writer: Jeffrey LauCh’eng-En Wu (novel)

Cinematographer: Hang-Sang Poon

Starring: Stephen ChowNg Man-tat, Yammie LamKaren MokAthena ChuJeffrey Lau,

Genre: Action, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

Country: Hong Kong

Lanuage: Cantonese

Release Date:  21 January 1995 (Hong Kong) & 4 February 1995 (Hong Kong)

Run Time: 87 Min & 95 Min

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