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Monster Hunt - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Mei Gong he xing dong

China, Hong Kong 2016

Genre:
Action

Director:
Dante Lam

Cast:
Zhang Hanyu
Eddie Peng Yu-Yan
Chen Baoguo
Pawarith Monkolpisit
Sun Chun
Feng Wenjuan
Ken Lo Wai-Kwong
Carl Ng Ka-Lung
Mandy Wei
Vithaya Pansringarm
Bhubhing Bhangsa-Ard


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Monster Hunt

Monster Hunt - Film Screenshot 1

Story: Humans and monsters share this world alike. After a war between both peoples, because humans want to seize the sole reign over both worlds, monsters have been driven to their own kingdom. Meanwhile, a civil war broke out among monsters. The king has been murdered and a new self-proclaimed ruler is looking for the queen who is pregnant with the legal heir to the throne. Thus, the queen has no other option but to flee into the kingdom of man along with her two escorts. There they meet the hobbling restaurant owner Tianyin (Jing Boran), who is the son of a well-known monster hunter. Also appearing at his restaurant at the same time is female monster hunter Xiaolan (Bai Baihe) who hopes to get a good amount of money for the monsters. However, just before dying the queen manages to plant the egg from her body into Tianyin. Xiaolan wants the restaurant owner to carry the child to term since it can be sold at a high price. She isn't aware, though, that the baby is the heir to the monster kingdom's throne and that accordingly a few other parties are looking for it as well.

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Monster Hunt - Film Screenshot 4

Review: "Monster Hunt" is a movie which at some point I nearly stopped watching. But I'm happy I didn't because despite a few embarrassing moments the movie has high entertainment value and makes time truely fly by. Still, you shouldn't fall victim to any wrong expectations: "Monster Hunt" aims at pleasing a young audience. Yes, under normal circumstances only parents with their elemantary school children will want to watch this film. As far as I'm concerned I really was reluctant - the overly cuddly monsters being the main reason - and I had to find out that this was in fact justified. But despite some slapstick moments, which don't work, the movie still has its highlights and can be fun. The action is decent, the characters nice and at least some of the jokes can hit the mark in the end.

Monster Hunt - Film Screenshot 5

The depicted monsters are all drawn in a comic-like fashion. When realizing that director Raman Hui has already worked on several Dreamworks movies, among them as co-director for "Shrek 3", it should become pretty obvious as of where he took his ideas from. It's just enormously irritating at first that the cuddly monsters are all implemented into our real world - ok, a colorful fantasy world, but at least not completely computer-created - and thus interact with real actors. But when you have come to accept this it works fine and certainly better than creating monsters which are supposed to look realistic, but in the end just appear cheap. With the whole fun ride we are taken on by this flick it also shouldn't come as a surprise that the story strays off course on several occasions and all in all comes along as pretty aimless.

Monster Hunt - Film Screenshot 6

It's also strange that the movie has some pretty strong scenes in store which certainly wouldn't have been possible in Western animation cinema. For instance, there aren't just a few violent scenes when one or two monsters bite the dust, but there is also a pretty disturbing scene at a kitchen in which the monsters are prepared as food. Of course you never see anything explicit and surely no blood, but it's still a bit odd. The cartoon-like approach to those scenes clearly lower the level of gruesomness, though. There are also a few problems concerning the humor, which at times is pretty slapstick-heavy and sometimes is appearantly aimed at making kids laugh or at least no one beyond the age of 12. As already said, this doesn't mean that you can't laugh during some other moments.

Monster Hunt - Film Screenshot 7

Actingwise you naturally shouldn't be expecting too much, but Bai Baihe ("Chongqing Hot Pot") portrays a charismatic protagonist, who brings girl power as well as a certain sex appeal to the table. Thus, she is the biggest surprise of the cast. Jing Boran ("Rise of the Legend") does a decent job, but is often enough outshined by Bai. By the way, "Monster Hunt" has originally been shot with Taiwan star Kai Ko in the lead. but he has been arrested because of drug charges in Beijing. Of course, this means the end for a movie in China. Therefore, about 70% of the film had to be reshot with Jing. Still, with its box office success of nearly 390 million dollar this tough development history should be fine with everyone involved in the end.

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Monster Hunt - Film Screenshot 10

Qualitywise, the movie is enhanced by a neat supporting cast consisting of Jiang Wu ("A Touch of Sin"), although he seems a bit lost towards the end, and Tang Wei ("Late Autumn") as well as Eric Tsang ("Aberdeen") among others. At first, a singing scene almost prevented me from keeping at it, but this remains the only Disney-esque slip. Which doesn't mean that there aren't a few more ballads featured in the background later on. But that's simply part of a movie like this: kitsch. Is it endurable? Yeah, somewhat, since you know that you are watching a movie for a young audience. And at least the picture refrains from adding a nationalistic touch to things. Moreover, the movie gets better the more it progresses, especially concerning the fun factor and the action. Not necessarily concerning its plot. Is this enough for a recommendation? Yes, but not really for a mature audience. But as a movie for the whole family it sure is.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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