Because comedy is so personal, relative, and regional, it’s a tough genre to sell overseas. There are only a handful of directors and actors that can make the whole world laugh, especially within markets where audiences have to read subtitles. Stephen Chow is one of the few filmmakers who has been able to break cultural barriers with his signature style of broad comedy, especially in America. Chow’s previous hits, Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle have both found some theatrical distribution in the US, with Shaolin Soccer even available on Instant Watch for anyone with a Netflix account. Now he’s back with a comic-take on the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West, a film that broke the record for the biggest single-day gross in China’s box-office history.
From the trailer, which you can check out for yourself below, it seems that Chow is holding nothing back comically. The film contains same over-the-top, cartoon-ish action and slapstick comedy that Chow is famous for as he has fun with source material that is considered one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature and one of the world’s longest and oldest novels. The story is highly regarded enough that it even attracted the celebrated English author Neil Gaiman and the Academy Award Nominated director Guillermo Del Toro to attempt their own adaptation.
Stephen Chow’s version, however, is very loosely based on the characters and is set-up as a sort of prequel to Journey to the West:
This is a world plagued by demons, who cause its human inhabitants unspeakable suffering. Young demon hunter Xuan Zang, fearlessly guided by his belief in “giving himself for the greater cause,” risks his all and conquers a water demon, a pig demon and the demon of all demons, Sun Wukong. He embraces them as his disciples, and melts them with love.
The film is co-directed by Chi-kin Kwok and will arrive in theaters and VOD in the United States March 7th, 2014. Check out the trailer below: