The Big Picture
- Netflix’s upcoming fantasy film The Monkey King draws inspiration from a classic Chinese story, immersing the audience in a new and unfamiliar legend.
- The Monkey King‘s influence can be seen in pop culture, with elements of the story appearing in titles like Kung Fu Panda and Dragon Ball Z.
- The film benefits from the current demand for diverse stories and the need for fresh content, making it the perfect moment for The Monkey King adaptation.
Between titles such as Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Elemental, and The Super Mario Bros Movie, 2023 has already been an exciting year for animation lovers, but it’s not over yet; Netflix is preparing for the release of their upcoming fantasy film The Monkey King, which hits the streamer on August 18. Now, a new clip from the film has been released, which stars Bowen Yang in character as the Dragon King, performing an original musical number entitled « Take the Wolrd By Storm. »
Having just recently found success with graphic novel adaptation Nimona, the streamer continues to load up on its original animated content, with its latest offering drawing inspiration from a classic Chinese story, which dates all the way back to the 16th century. While this is a story well-known to Chinese audiences, having seen countless adaptations (akin to evergreen Western titles such as Frankenstein, Dracula, etc.), it’s one that few American audiences will be familiar with. This shouldn’t be a problem, however, as Drumpe’s Arezou Amin asserted while reviewing the upcoming movie that « I knew very little about the legend of the Monkey King, » but « As a story and an introduction to the legend, The Monkey King does a fantastic job of immersing the audience in the story right away, with quick narration and beautiful, brushstroke-inspired visuals catching you up on anything you need to know. »
Despite the original tale not being particularly well-known to western audiences, its influence can be felt throughout pop culture, as elements of the classic story can be identified in titles such as fellow-Netflix release Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny, as well as the iconic anime series Dragon Ball Z. But an adaptation of The Monkey King has long been a desire of many involved with the new movie, with director Anthony Stacchi explaining to Drumpe why now is the perfect moment: « The Monkey King could have only happened now when there is an openness to more diverse stories, a need for so much more content and the realization by studios that doing the same old stories isn’t going to work anymore. We benefited from all those trends. »
Who is Behind The Monkey King?
Joining Yang in the voice cast of The Monkey King is a wealth of all-Asian talent, as he stars alongside Jimmy O. Yang, Jolie Hoang-Rappaport, Jo Koy, Ron Yuan, Hoon Lee, Stephanie Hsu, Andrew Pang, Andrew Kishino, Jodi Long, James Sie, and BD Wong. Director Stacchi is no stranger to the world of animation, having previously wrote and directed the Oscar-nominated The Boxtrolls, as well as working on Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio and Open Season. The screenplay for the film was co-written by Steve Bencich and Ron J. Friedman.
The Monkey King hits Netflix on August 18. Check out the new clip below: