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Blu-ray Review Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons Blu-ray Review (1 Viewer)

Todd Erwin

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Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons Blu-ray Review

After a seven year hiatus, Stephen Chow returned to the directing chair for Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons, a dark martial arts epic fantasy about a young, inexperienced demon hunter on a quest to defeat both a pig demon and the even more treacherous monkey demon, meeting other demon hunters along the way.

Posted Image


Studio: Magnet

Distributed By: Magnolia

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Mandarin 5.1 DTS-HDMA

Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

Rating: PG-13

Run Time: 1 Hr. 50 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray

Blu-ray Eco keepcase with cardboard sleeve

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: A

Release Date: 05/27/2014

MSRP: $29.98




The Production Rating: 4.5/5

Stephen Chow’s Journey To The West is a film that is hard to describe without it sounding hokey or cheesy, and has to be seen to be believed. As the film opens, a water demon has been terrorizing a small fishing village, and when the demon takes the life of a young girl’s father, a demon hunter comes to town, bringing a gigantic stingray to the surface. But Xuan Zang (Zhang Wen, The Sorcerer and the White Snake) tries to tell the village that the stingray is not the water demon, and that there is still a threat to the village. Zang manages to transform the demon back to human form, then tries to heal him by reading from 300 Nursery Rhymes, having been taught by his Buddhist master that demons can only be healed through love and compassion. This, of course, backfires and before getting the snot beaten out of him, Zang is rescued by Miss Duan (Qi Shu, The Transporter), a tomboy demon killer that is only interested in defeating demons as a way of making a living. Duan is instantly attracted to Zang, and tries everything (and I mean everything) to win him over when they meet up again later on in the film.It’s very obvious that Chow uses the opening sequence as a major homage to Steven Spielberg's Jaws and even a hint from Jurassic Park, and there are several townspeople that most filmmakers would never kill off, but the director crosses that line almost beautifully and humorously, as well. The film takes a darker turn when Duan and Zang encounter the Pig Demon, who is too powerful for the two of them to capture, and must enlist the aid of the imprisoned Monkey Demon, who has a few tricks up his sleeve that leads to a final showdown.Typically, Chow casts himself as the dimwitted protagonist, but chose to cast Zhang Wen in that role as Zang, and he fills those shoes nicely. Qi Shu plays Miss Duan purposefully over the top, and it fits the character and tone of the film perfectly. Like many of Chow’s previous films, Journey To The West is filled with bizarre and eccentric characters (notably Almighty Foot, Prince Important, and KL Hog), humorous action sequences (Miss Duan’s ill-fated seduction of Zang), and an ending that leaves an opening for more adventures to come.It comes as no surprise that Journey To The West was a major box office hit in China. While watching the film, particularly the opening sequence in the fishing village and the battle with the Pig Demon, my immediate thought was that this would have been a great use of 3D. After some quick research and reading the film’s closing credits, the film was released theatrically in China and other markets in both 3D and IMAX 3D. Unfortunately, Magnolia, the film’s US distributor, did not release the film in 3D theatrically or on Blu-ray.

Fish Out Of Water


Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA

The 1080p AVC-encoded transfer retains the film’s 2.40:1 theatrical aspect ratio. Shot with Arri Alexa cameras, colors are well-saturated and consistent throughout, providing a magical quality to the film’s palette. Detail is exquisite, particularly in the textures of the period costumes and in Duan’s Infinite Flying Rings (more on those in the audio section). Contrast is spot on, too, with rich, deep blacks while still retaining details. Like most movies shot digitally on the Alexa, Journey To The West has a film-like look throughout.



Audio Rating: 4.5/5

Two DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtracks are provided, the film’s original Mandarin and a dubbed English. The obvious choice here is Mandarin, which could very easily be considered demo material. Dialogue is mostly directed to the center channel without being drowned out by music and effects. This is a very immersive mix, with very active surrounds and front soundstages, particularly when Miss Duan uses her Infinite Flying Rings, which will ping pong around your home theater as they leave the screen. LFE consistently delivers a great wallop with its thundering punches, Almighty Foot’s stomping, and body smashing.The English track shares many of the same qualities as above, but suffers from the usual poor voice acting of dubbed foreign language films.


Special Features Rating: 3/5

All of the featurettes appear to have been upconverted to 1080p, and are in their original Mandarin with English subtitles.Stunts and Special Effects (1:41)Cast & Characters (2:24)Director Stephen Chow (2:39)The Laughs (2:20)Production Design (1:20)Choreography (1:45)Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 2:08)

Journey To The West - Featurette

Theatrical Trailer


Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Fans of Stephen Chow’s work, particularly Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle, will be delighted and thrilled with this film, and I highly recommend this film to anyone who enjoys Hong Kong cinema, or even the action-fantasy genre. It’s great to see this talented director back on top, and I’m looking forward to the rumored sequel. I only wish Magnolia had released this film on 3D Blu-ray.


Reviewed By: Todd Erwin


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RJ992

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Sep 7, 2010
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Joel
If this ever becomes available as a Region-Free 3D import, I'll order it. (Boo to Magnolia.)
 

RJ992

Supporting Actor
Joined
Sep 7, 2010
Messages
646
Real Name
Joel
If this ever becomes available as a Region-Free 3D import, I'll order it. (Boo to Magnolia.)
 

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