China’s biggest movie is based on an internet novel – The Verge

Wu Kong came out last Thursday and dominated Chinese box offices over the weekend. It has raked in $60.4 million so far, beating the likes of Despicable Me 3 and Transformers: The Last Knight, according to China’s EntGroup. The action / fantasy movie from Hong Kong director Derek Kwok is based on an internet novel about the days before the Monkey King (Sun Wukong) became the iconic hero.

The novel, titled Wu Kong’s Biography, was written by Zeng Yu under the pseudonym Jin Hezai and posted online in 2000. Zeng’s book was so well-received that it was republished in print the following year. Back in 2001, the book’s editor Wen Jinghua said in an interview with Beijing Today that although “Jin doesn’t use perfect, polished sentences, and he doesn’t have any professional training in use of language as most writers do… young people love his style. They love the Internet-style language and the thoughts that are so close to their inner world.” An English translation provided by a fan was posted on Archive of Our Own.

In the movie, the Monkey King, played by Eddie Peng who is reprising his role from Monkey King 2, flies from great heights in action-packed fight scenes. You can get a taste of the fight choreography in the trailer below.

Apart from the internet novel, the Monkey King is originally a character from Journey to the West, one of China’s classic novels, written in the 16th century during the Ming Dynasty. In Journey to the West, a Buddhist monk travels to India from China, alongside his companions, one of whom is the Monkey King who fights well and protects the monk from demons. Still, the Monkey King himself is no saint, and he actually was imprisoned in a mountain by Buddha for 500 years as punishment for stealing some heavenly peaches.

The Monkey King has appeared in a variety of books, films, and video games, including being a champion in League of Legends. Wu Kong is currently screening in the USA in limited release.

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