Hong Hai Er
1975 / 62m - Taiwan
Fantasy, Adventure
The Fantastic Magic Baby poster


May 19, 2021


Cheh Chang's Shaw Bros adaptation of Journey to the West is an odd little beast. Rather than turn it into a conventional film, it feels a lot more like a recorded stage play. Now, the Shaw Bros films have mostly been shot in studio settings, but it seems they didn't even bother to try and camouflage it here.

I've seen so many adaptations of this book already, but I keep running into parts of the stories I'm unfamiliar with (I guess I'll have to bite the bullet and read it myself one day). In this film, the Monkey King and the Goddess of Mercy band together to fight the child god Hung Hai-erh, a nasty little bugger.

The effects, settings and costumes are all rather low-key, which is a shame for a fantasy/adventure film. I think Yuen Chor would've been a better match for this material, but Chang tries to make the best of it. Sadly, not even the martial arts scenes look very convincing. It's a short film and the pacing is decent, it's also rather amusing to watch, but it's far from Chang's best.