SciFi Japan

    Toho and Fuji TV`s MONKEY MAGIC on UK DVD and Blu-ray

    The UK Trailer for MONKEY MAGIC, courtesy of Showbox Media Group. © 2007 Fuji Television Network, Toho, J-Dream, and FNS

    The Legendary Monkey King is Back in a Feature Length Movie Source: The Associates press release, Cine-Asia, Pony Canyon Inc. Official Movie Site (Japanese): saiyuki.jp

    The 2007 Japanese box office hit MONKEY MAGIC (Saiyuki) comes to British DVD and Blu-ray this month with an English subtitled release from Cine-Asia, a division of Showbox Media Group. Produced by Fuji Television and Toho, and adapted from Wu Chengen`s classic 16th Century Chinese novel, Journey To The West (Xi You Ji), the movie is a big budget fantasy adventure featuring the further comic exploits of the irrepressible Monkey King— known as Sun Wu Kung/Kong in China or Son Goku in Japan— a popular character in film, television, and animation. Journey To The West is a fictionalized account of Chinese monk Xuan Zang`s (known in Japan as Sanzo Hoshi, and in English as Tripitaka) real life pilgrimage to India to recover Buddhist scriptures. To aid Xuan Zang on his quest, Buddha gave him three disciples... Monkey, the pig demon Zhu Ba Jie (Cho Hakkai, a.k.a. Pigsy), and the water demon Sha Wu Jing (Sagojo, or Sandy). The travelers encountered 81 trials, including battles with hordes of demons, natural disasters, and trips to both the heavens and hell before reaching the end of their journey. Toho`s involvement with the fable goes back to 1959, when they produced and released THE ADVENTURES OF SUN WU KUNG (Son Goku), a feature film directed by Kajiro Yamamoto, with special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya, and starring Norihei Miki in the title role. The following year, Osamu Tezuka`s manga adaptation of Journey to the West was brought to the big screen by Toei as the animated movie SAIYUKI. The film was quickly picked up by American International Pictures and released in the United States as the English dubbed version called ALAKAZAM THE GREAT (1961). Journey To The West was also the inspiration for the long-running manga and Toei anime series DRAGON BALL. In 2008, the story was the basis for the American film THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM, a #1 box office hit starring martial arts legends Jackie Chan and Jet Li, with Li playing the role of the Monkey King.

    One of the most internationally popular incarnations of Journey to the West was MONKEY (Saikyuki), a Japanese television series produced by Nippon Television (NTV) and International Television Films in association with NHK. The show, which premiered on October 1, 1978 and ran for a total of fifty two episodes over two seasons, was tremendously successful with some episodes earning a 50% ratings share. In 1979, thirty nine episodes of MONKEY were dubbed in English by the BBC and the show was broadcast on BBC2 in the United Kingdom, on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Australia, and also in New Zealand. The show became a beloved cult hit in those English markets. In 2004, the original English voice cast reunited to dub the remaining 13 episodes for the MONKEY! THE COMPLETE SERIES DVD set from Fabulous Films Ltd. Britain`s love for the Journey characters was further shown last year... Monkey and his cohorts Sandy and Pigsy starred in the animated opening titles for the BBC`s television coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In Japan, the Monkey King and his friends returned to TV in January, 2006 with the Fuji Television Network`s primetime mini-series MONKEY MAGIC (Saiyuki), a new telling of Journey to the West. A lively fantasy adventure for all ages, MONKEY MAGIC captured the surreal, zany, comic spirit of the 1970s TV series, adding a contemporary flair and modern special effects to delight the established legions of MONKEY fans and win over a whole new generation.

    MONKEY MAGIC was a ratings success, so Fuji TV and Toho partnered on a theatrical film spin-off in 2007 featuring the show`s cast and creative team. While connected to the TV series, the MONKEY MAGIC movie was a self-contained story that would be accessible to audiences who may be unfamiliar with the show. Planned as Toho`s big summer movie for 2007, the film opened July 14 on 461 screens, a record number for a Japanese live-action movie. That weekend, Japan was hit by a typhoon, and that Monday, a 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit Kashiwazaki City. But the natural disasters did not stop audiences from flocking to theaters to see MONKEY MAGIC and make it a box office hit. Toho followed up with the Region 2 DVD on January 1, 2008. And now MONKEY MAGIC comes to the UK on DVD (£15.99) and Blu-ray (£19.99) on February 23, 2009.

    STORY

    Friendship is a promise... and a promise is for keeps. On a quest from China to India to collect a set of ancient holy scrolls, the Buddhist monk Sanzo Hoshi (played by actress Eri Fukatsu) leads his three protective disciples, Monkey (Shingo Katori), Pigsy (Atsushi Ito) and Sandy (Teruyoshi Uchimura), out of the blistering desert and into a desperate and forlorn village.

    There they encounter a young princess, Reimi (Mikako Tabe), who implores them for their help. Her once lush and peaceful homeland of the Tiger Kingdom has been taken over by two goblin warlords, the cruel King Gold Horn (Takeshi Kaga) and his equally tyrannical brother, King Silver Horn (Goro Kishitani). Having plundered the kingdom`s palace and transformed Reimi`s parents into turtles, the demons have also turned the surrounding countryside into a desert wasteland filled with dust and decay. Now, they plan to plunge the entire world into eternal darkness. Against the wishes of Monkey, Pigsy and Sandy, Sanzo agrees to help Reimi. The travelers set out for the mountains to find Remi`s grandfather who is believed to be in possession of a magical orb that holds the power to return the king and queen to their human forms. But, unknown to the band of heroes, the orb is also the key to the demons` final diabolical scheme. After scaling treacherous terrain, battling a giant sea creature, and dealing with numerous traps, Sanzo and company finally reach the peak of the snowy mountains. But a startling revelation about the princess threatens to compromise the mission and destroy the bond of trust between Monkey and Sanzo. As the warlords inch ever closer to realizing their goal, the legendary foursome will need to reunite and combine their might if they ever hope to make good on their promise.

    CHARACTERS

    Monkey (Shingo Katori) The most powerful monkey magician in the supernatural world, Monkey (Son Goku) grew so mischievous and reckless that even Buddha was compelled to imprison him in a mountain rock. Freed 500 years later by the altruistic monk Sanzo Hoshi, Monkey enters into sanzo`s service as a disciple, accompanying the priest on a quest to India to recover lost sutras. The occasional uncontrolled antics of Monkey are kept in check by Sanzo, who only need chant a few magic words to tighten the torc around his head and pacify him. If channeled correctly, Monkey`s immensely compasionate heart contains the power to move mountains... and hearts. Sanzo Hoshi (Eri Fukatsu) The virtuous reputation of the young priest Sanzo Hoshi commands respect, even among the world`s greatest evildoers. Sanzo`s gentle and altruistic nature ultimately serves as the monk`s greatest strength and weakness. Sanzo`s internal fortitude and sense of self-sacrifice are driven by a genuine belief in the goodness of people. Sandy (Teruyoshi Ichimura) Once an underling to the evil monster King Konsei (Caos), the sly and cool water imp Sandy can always be counted on for his quick wit and lightning reflexes whenever the going gets tough. His one weakness, aside from beautiful women, is his head plate, which he must keep moist. He keeps it concealed under his turban.

    Pigsy (Atsushi Ito) The only pig born from a clan of wild goblin hogs, Pigsy has had to suffer being the brunt of jokes his entire life. But he proved his courage when he chose to represent his tribe on the perilous quest to India with Sanzo Hoshi. Owner of an insatiable appetite and a timorous heart, patience and endurance are Pigsy`s strongest virtues. Rin-Rin (Asami Mizukawa) A voluptuous, light-fingered bandit in Chinese dress, Rin-Rin is a kleptomaniac with a ravenous appetite for the materialistic. Born of royalty as a princess (as revealed in later episodes of the TV series), Rin-Rin often crosses path with Monkey, to whom she seems to bear a keen interest. Could it be affection? Princess Reimi (Mikako Tabe) Reimi is a beautiful but obstinate princess who can be tough as nails while commanding a cavalry unit, yet also appear vulnerable and terribly spoiled. She convinces Sanzo Hoshi and Monkey to Join her on an expedition to root out the evildoers who have devastated her kingdom... but she may be hiding an ulterior motive.

    Roshi (Koji Ohkura) Roshi is the mysterious old guardian who seems to materialize out of thin air to give not-always-helpful "advice" to Sanzo and company. He lets his hair and goatee grow unchecked, which can unwittingly prove helpful at times. King Gold Horn (Takeshi Kaga) The elder of the terrifying goblin brothers, Gold Horn`s frightening figure and sinister glow is enough to send many a soul cowering in submission. A fearsome fighter like his younger brother, Gold Horn seeks total control of a material world devoid of mankind. King Silver Horn (Goro Kishitani) Silver Horn is the younger of the goblin brothers and acts as an enforcer for Gold Horn`s schemes. Feared by everyone but his own brother, he is a ruthless and elusive monster who uses a long blade and quick teleportation to keep his foes guessing.

    MONKEY MAGIC

    Production: Fuji Television Network, Toho, J-Dream, and FNS Japanese Theatrical Release: July 14, 2007 Domestic Distribution: Toho Co., Ltd. World Sales: Pony Canyon Inc.

    Cast Monkey: Shingo Katori Sandy: Teruyoshi Uchimura Pigsy: Atsushi Ito Sanzo Hoshi: Eri Fukatsu Reimi: Mikako Tabe Rin-Rin: Asami Mizukawa Roshi: Koji Ohkura Mikako Tabe Shosuke Tanihara Nenji Kobayashi King Silver Horn: Goro Kishitani King Gold Horn: Takeshi Kaga Staff Director: Kensaku Sawada Executive Producers: Kenji Shimizu, Yoshishige Shimatani, Michi Iijima Producer: Yoshihiro Suzuki, Chihiro Kameyama, Toru Ota Co-producers: Yasushi Ogawa, Kazutoshi Wadakura Writer: Yuji Sakamoto Music: Satoshi Takebe Special Effects: Katsuro Onoue Cinematography: Kosuke Matsushima Lighting: Sosuke Yoshizumi Production Design: Tsuyoshi Shimizu Sound: Osamu Takizawa

    UK DVD and BLU-RAY

    Release Date: February 23, 2009 Genre: Fantasy / Adventure Certificate: 12 Label: Cine-Asia Format: PAL Region Code: 2 DVD: Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen Transfer Audio Format: Dolby Digital 2.0 Audio Language: Japanese Subtitle Language: English Feature Run Time: 116 minutes Extras: Theatrical Trailer, TV Spots, "The Journey to the West" Blu-ray Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen Transfer (1080p AVC) Audio Format: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 Audio Audio Language: Japanese Subtitle Language: English Feature Run Time: 116 minutes Extras: Theatrical Trailer, TV Spots, "The Journey to the West" SRP: £15.99 (DVD)/£19.99 (Blu-ray)

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