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Gabriel Montenegro
Gabriel Montenegro

The Monkey King (2022) - Sun Wukong's Rescue of a Girl and His Battle with the Dragon Prince


Wukong the Monkey King: A Guide to the Legendary Chinese Hero and His Movies




If you are a fan of fantasy, action, or Chinese culture, you may have heard of Wukong the Monkey King, one of the most iconic figures in world literature. He is a trickster god who plays a central role in the classic 16th-century Chinese novel Journey to the West, in which he and three other disciples protect a Buddhist monk on a pilgrimage from China to India. He is also a popular character in various media, such as comics, animation, games, TV shows, and movies.


In this article, we will explore the origins and mythology of Wukong the Monkey King, his adaptations and variations in different media, his movies and reviews, and his online download options. Whether you are new to Wukong or a longtime fan, you will find something interesting and useful in this guide.




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The Origins and Mythology of Wukong the Monkey King




The legend of Wukong the Monkey King first appeared in the Song Dynasty-era adventure novel Journey to the West, written by Wu Cheng'en. The novel is based on the historical monk Xuanzang's travels to India in search of Buddhist scriptures in the 7th century. Along the way, he encounters various demons, monsters, and gods, some of whom become his disciples.


One of his disciples is Sun Wukong (孫悟空), also known as the Monkey King. He is a monkey born from a magical rock who acquires supernatural powers through Taoist practices. He has amazing strength, speed, shape-shifting abilities, magic hairs, cloud-walking boots, true sight, and an eight-ton staff that can shrink to the size of a needle. He is also extremely clever, mischievous, rebellious, and arrogant.


Wukong's story begins when he becomes the king of a group of monkeys who live on Mount Huaguo. He leads them to find a waterfall that leads to a hidden paradise where they can live forever. There he finds a stone mansion that contains weapons and clothes left by ancient immortals. He chooses a staff called Ruyi Jingu Bang (如意金箍棒), which can change its size according to his will.


Wukong then seeks to learn more about Taoism and immortality from various masters. He learns how to fly on clouds, transform into 72 different animals and objects, fight with his staff, and escape death. He also earns himself several names, such as Sun Xingzhe (孫行者), meaning "Pilgrim Sun", Qitian Dasheng (齊天大聖), meaning "Great Sage Equal to Heaven", and Dou Zhansheng Fo (鬥戰勝佛), meaning "Victorious Fighting Buddha".


Wukong's story continues when he becomes dissatisfied with his status as a mere immortal and challenges the authority of the Jade Emperor, the ruler of heaven. He wreaks havoc in the celestial palace, defeats many heavenly soldiers and generals, and even eats some of the peaches of immortality that are reserved for a banquet. He also claims to be the Great Sage Equal to Heaven and demands a position in the heavenly bureaucracy.


The Jade Emperor tries to appease Wukong by giving him a minor job as the keeper of the heavenly horses, but Wukong soon realizes that he is being tricked and rebels again. He frees the horses and returns to his mountain, where he proclaims himself the king of all monkeys. He also defeats the armies of hell and erases his name and the names of his monkey subjects from the book of life and death, making them immune to reincarnation.


The Jade Emperor then asks for help from Buddha, who bets Wukong that he cannot escape from his palm. Wukong accepts the challenge and flies to the end of the world, where he sees five pillars that he thinks are the boundaries of the universe. He marks one of them with his name and urinates on it, then returns to Buddha and claims victory. However, Buddha reveals that the pillars were actually his fingers, and that Wukong never left his palm. He then traps Wukong under a mountain and seals it with a magic spell.


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Wukong remains imprisoned for 500 years, until he is freed by Tang Sanzang (唐三藏), a Buddhist monk who is on a mission to retrieve the original scriptures from India. Tang Sanzang is told by Guanyin (觀音), the bodhisattva of compassion, that he needs four disciples to help him on his journey. The first one is Wukong, who agrees to serve him in exchange for his freedom. Guanyin also gives Tang Sanzang a magic headband that can tighten around Wukong's head and cause him unbearable pain whenever he disobeys or annoys him.


Together, they embark on a perilous adventure that lasts for 14 years and covers over 50,000 kilometers. Along the way, they encounter many dangers, enemies, allies, and temptations. They also recruit two other disciples: Zhu Bajie (豬八戒), a pig demon who was once a heavenly marshal but was banished for flirting with a goddess; and Sha Wujing (沙悟淨), a water buffalo demon who was once a heavenly general but was exiled for breaking a crystal goblet. The fourth disciple is Yulong (玉龍), the third son of the Dragon King of the West Sea, who was sentenced to death for setting fire to his father's pearl but was spared by Guanyin and turned into a white horse for Tang Sanzang to ride.


The Adaptations and Variations of Wukong the Monkey King




The story of Wukong the Monkey King has been adapted and varied in many forms of media over the centuries. Some of them are faithful to the original novel, while others are creative reinterpretations or spin-offs. Here are some examples of how Wukong has been portrayed in different media:


  • Novels: Besides Journey to the West, there are many other novels that feature Wukong as a main or supporting character. Some of them are sequels or prequels to the original novel, such as The Return of the Monkey King by Jin Yong (金庸), The Legend of Sun Wukong by Li Shoumin (李壽民), and The Monkey King's Amazing Adventures by Wu Cheng'en and Timothy Richard. Some of them are crossover or parody novels, such as The Journey to the West: Volume I by Cheng'en Wu and Anthony C. Yu, which combines elements from Chinese mythology, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and folk religion; A Hero Born by Jin Yong (金庸), which features Wukong as a mentor to Guo Jing (郭靖), the protagonist of The Legend of the Condor Heroes; and The Unofficial History of Pi Pa by Li Zhiyi (李之儀), which depicts Wukong as a lover of Pi Pa (琵琶), a female demon who plays a pipa (a Chinese lute).



  • Comics: There are many comics that depict Wukong in various styles and genres. Some of them are faithful adaptations of Journey to the West, such as - Journey to the West by Wu Cheng'en and translated by Arthur Waley, which is a classic English version of the novel that covers the first 30 chapters and omits most of the poetry and allegory. - The Monkey and the Monk by Anthony C. Yu, which is an abridged version of his complete four-volume translation of the novel that covers all 100 chapters and preserves the literary and cultural nuances of the original text. - The New Legends of Monkey by Gerard Johnstone, which is a modern comic adaptation of the novel that follows the adventures of a teenage girl who releases Wukong from his prison and joins him on his quest to restore the balance of the world.



  • Animation: There are many animation works that feature Wukong in various styles and genres. Some of them are faithful adaptations of Journey to the West, such as - Havoc in Heaven, also known as Uproar in Heaven, which is a 1961 Chinese animated feature film directed by Wan Lai-ming and produced by Wan and his three brothers. It depicts Wukong's rebellion against heaven and his imprisonment by Buddha. In 2012 it was "restored" in 3D. - The Monkey King: Quest for the Sutra, which is a 2002 Hong Kong-Taiwanese animated TV series produced by Imagi Animation Studios. It follows Wukong and his companions on their journey to India and their encounters with various enemies and allies. - The Monkey King: Havoc in Heaven's Palace, which is a 2014 Chinese animated feature film directed by Tian Xiaopeng. It is a remake of Havoc in Heaven with updated animation and voice acting.



Games: There are many games that feature Wukong as a playable character or a boss. Some of them are based on Journey to the West, such as - Saiyuki: Journey West, which is a 1999 Japanese tactical role-playing game developed by Koei for the PlayStation. It allows the player to choose between a male or a female protagonist who takes on the r


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