Journey to the West II
Yeah my mom bought me the complete set when she went back to China. I've been watching the DVD and I'm halfway through the sequel. It's not too bad. Granted it's not on par with the original, but the original was a classic in its own right, and I doubt anyone expected the sequel to surpass it. But it do an adequate job on its own.
The basic concept behind the sequel is that we start off with the group back at the Tang Imperial court and they mention a couple of interesting incidents while the emperor was looking at the sutras they brought back. The emperor asks them to tell him the story of what happened. And cue flashback sequence that lasts for the rest of the series.
- So far all the stories have come from the original book canon. They didn't just make up new adventures on the way to the West. There was the Sun Wukong and his doppleganger one and the one where the Jade Emperor was doing the petty vengeance thing which were pretty cool to see.
- Nice chemistry between the actors. A lot of Bajie/Wukong horsing around that really looked like *cough* another kind of playing around. Some Tangseng/Wukong & Tangseng/Bajie stuff to, which had me giggling even though it kinda reminds of Saiyuki and thus gives me creeps.
- The choreography was pretty good. While they needed to have wire-fu for midair and underwater fights, I was glad to see they didn't go the whole Matrix CGI-fu route or Ranmaesque CGI-chi-blast route (I'm looking at you, 神雕侠侣 retake #564). And they had a decent amount of ground fights.
- Bajie is kinda cute in his dumbness, and not just in the way he always picks on/get picked on by Wukong.
- I think I'm in luv w/ the crown prince of the Dragon King of the East... ok I'll stop fangirling now.
- The SFX was better than the original, which really can't say much, especially when I can look at the scenes and think - that looks like something a newbie to photoshop could do in 10 minutes. You'd think they'd improved a little more since the original series in the intervening years.
- The costumes. While better than the average cosplay reject, was still very fake. Heck, I think Star Trek TOS did a better job 40+ years ago with the makeup department. Then again, all that fake cheesiness does sorta grow on you... *headdesk*
- The songs/soundtrack. I mean... pop music? Even if you're not willing to reuse 敢问路在何方 or the opening theme, at least come up with a decent replacement that's within the same spirit as the original.
- OFC girls trying to marry or otherwise going after Tangseng (even if the concept itself is canonical). I guess the producers threw them in to attract the post-pubescent male demographic. But still...
- Sometimes, the dialogue is... well we know even the original version didn't lay it on thick with the (pseudo-)ancient Chinese talk (as opposed to ROTK), but some of those lines are way too modern, folks!