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  • July 6, 2007: About the Monkey King
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    Friday, Jul 6, 2007 2:46PM / Standard Entry / The Forbidden Kingdom / Members only

    Ideally, the identity of the person portraying the Monkey King should be kept secret.  However, with advances in technology and information distribution, today's entertainment industry doesn't really have any secrets.  By now everyone knows that I will be playing the Monkey King character in "Forbidden Kingdom".

    In fact, when I first received the scrīpt three years ago the producer approached me to play the role of the Monkey King, but at that time there were problems with the scrīpt.  At that time they portrayed the Monk as a great fighter.  I felt this was a bit weird because, according to the original story, "Journey to the West", the Monk was the only role that was based on "reality".  This character was based on the life of Buddhist Master Xuan-Zhang from the Tang Dyanasty.  If his character was a great fighter the film wouldn't be accepted by the public.  So after discussions with the producer we decided that the monk should not be a fighter.  Otherwise the film would have a difficult time being accepted in Asia.

    But, how to fix this problem?  I had two suggestions:

    First, have the Monk be a transformation of the Monkey King.  Since the Monkey King knows the 72 "earthly methods for transformations", he can pull one of his hairs out and transform himself into the Monk.  So, instead of being the "Tang Monk" we can call him "Silent Monk" and the problem is solved.

    Second, I suggested that the movie does not have to be based strictly upon the original "Journey to the West".  Everyone who is familiar with that story has their own perceptions on how that story should be represented.  In the film, the story is the creation of an American kid's dream.  This being the case, there are apt to be differences between these characters and those from "Journey to the West".  But that's not a problem.  this is a dream of this American kid's interpretation of these characters so there is a lot of room for creativity.

    The producer liked my ideas.  The screenwriter even flew to Hong Kong to discuss the development of the Monkey King with me.  Naturally there are many differences between Chinese and Western culture and eveyrone has a different interpretation of the Monkey King character.   There should be a lot of work done to create this character, but it's best to maximize the room for creativity and not base it solely on previous examples.  I will put forth my best effort with this character, so I hope that everyone can understand this perspective: As this is a character based on a western kid's dream-world, this is a new representation of the Monkey King for a global audience.

    To be honest, portraying the Monkey King has required a lot of courage.  There have been so many successful depictions of this character in Beijing Opera, animation and TV series.  For example, the Monkey King portrayed by Master Liu Xiao Ling Tong; his expressions and movements portray the character exactly as it should be from a Chinese cultural perspective.  But if our interpretation of the Monkey King's character was based on the previous depictions, then it would not work in this new context.

    We had the same situation with the character Wong Fei-Hung in "Once Upon a Time in China".  Master Kwan Tak-Hing had portrayed this character in over 100 movies, but to develop this character I had to create a totally new interpretation of Wong Fei-Hung in order for it to work in the film.

    The Monkey King in this movie is not just for Chinese audiences, nor just for Asian audiences, but for the whole world.  There are many people in the world who don't know anything about the Monkey King.  Therefore, as long as the character of the Monkey King is true to the world created in the dreams of the American kid in the movie, there is no right or wrong, and the room for creative diversity is enormous.

    You will be able to see the movie next year, and of course I can't promise that you will or will not like it.  I can only try my best, along with action director Yuen Wo-Ping and his team, to create the best Monkey King I can.

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Entry comments (43)

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  • xiaolian
    posted on Sunday, Apr 6, 2008 10:57AM [Report]
  • moujun0001
    posted on Sunday, Nov 18, 2007 8:38PM [Report]
    孫悟空是一個英雄,也難逃英雄的悲劇宿命。個人哪怕再強,他也扭不過社會這條大腿,他也難逃潛規則的手掌心。lcx0cd 從網游的角度解釋了為什么孫悟空大闹天宫时所向披靡,取经路上卻被菜鸟级的妖怪折磨。這個角度很新穎,但我要說更深層次的原因就是:不是他的能力變了,而是他的做事方式變了,他在逐步的學著按規則辦事。為什么大鬧天宮好看,因為那時的他鄙視一切規則,他自己就是規則。整部《西游記》就是他由個人英雄(理想英雄)轉變為世俗英雄(現實英雄)的史詩。是社會對他的和諧化,是社會的喜劇,孫悟空自己的悲劇。
  • moujun0001
    posted on Sunday, Nov 18, 2007 7:49PM [Report]
  • jiating615210
    posted on Sunday, Nov 18, 2007 2:48PM [Report]
  • akeryu
    posted on Saturday, Sep 15, 2007 9:13PM [Report]
    Hi Jet Li. I'm a fan of yours here in the Philippines. I've seen a lot of your movies and just watch War/Rogue Assassin today. I really like your kung fu moves and I'm sure I'd watch the Forbidden Kingdom. A long time ago, I have wondered why isn't there a movie where you  and Jackie Chan would be in. Hehe. At last there would be one. I'd be hoping this one would be great. Goodluck and rock on!!!
  • lcx0cd
    posted on Monday, Sep 10, 2007 6:31PM [Report]
    對于西游人物孫悟空設定和現代電影觀眾如果有幸與您一同研究請聯系[email protected]




  • lcx0cd
    posted on Monday, Sep 10, 2007 6:25PM [Report]
  • leo7
    posted on Wednesday, Aug 15, 2007 5:48AM [Report]
    现在世界变化快 人们的观念没有那么保守
  • Geetha
    posted on Thursday, Aug 9, 2007 3:19AM [Report]
    hi jet li,
    i'm from india.i'm a great fan of u.other than villian i will appreciate all characters u do as u are fixed as hero in my mind.i am expecting forbidden kingdom sooner with english transformation.i wish u and jacky all success.
  • blamist
    posted on Sunday, Jul 15, 2007 7:23PM [Report]


    你在外国排的那几部中,反复看的最多的是:the one. 里面的2个你是不是太极对咏春?方与点的较量?哈哈,在网上无意中看到有关你自己的网络空间,就潜水到现在了,恩恩,今天终于忍不住发表一下了,哈哈.
  • bruce101
    posted on Saturday, Jul 14, 2007 10:00PM [Report]
    Will y use monkey staff and what other form of martial arts will be used? I can't wait!!!
  • smilingeveryday
    posted on Friday, Jul 13, 2007 11:50PM [Report]

  • ciciforever
    posted on Friday, Jul 13, 2007 1:48PM [Report]


  • 999309
    posted on Thursday, Jul 12, 2007 9:46PM [Report]
  • ydraw
    posted on Wednesday, Jul 11, 2007 9:54PM [Report]
    As a huge fan of the Japanese TV version of "Monkey" all I can say is, I hope they give you sideburns.

    Oh, and this will be the greatest film of all time.
  • yuhong
    posted on Wednesday, Jul 11, 2007 9:41PM [Report]
  • critterdee
    posted on Wednesday, Jul 11, 2007 11:30AM [Report]
    I'm very excited for this movie to come out.  
    I think it is wonderful that you've made it possible for a world wide audience to learn about and enjoy so much of the Chinese folklore and history through movies like Monkey King and Once upon a time in China.  
    You are loved and greatly appreciated by many for being the person you are. Thank you.  I'm glad to know that there are people like you in the movie industry.
  • Mommy_Mok
    posted on Monday, Jul 9, 2007 4:03PM [Report]
    Looking forward to seeing your interpretation of the film.
  • aoi_terence
    posted on Saturday, Jul 7, 2007 9:01PM [Report]
    Because Monkey King is a major talk also in Japan, it is interested in the country where the
    concept of the Buddhism doesn't exist ..how it is caught...
    Moreover, the difference in China and Japan also : of course.
    However, the thing that there is a wall of the language study and my opinion cannot be written in
    detail is mortified now.
    However, it is interested and the blog is read.

  • MadChinese
    posted on Saturday, Jul 7, 2007 6:44PM [Report]
    Dear Jet,
    I'm so glad you and Jackie are finally together!
    My today's dreamteam and making another
    dream come true...my favorite chinese fairy-
    tale "Monkey King" goes on big screen with
    you two fortune cookies!!! Great, god bless!!!
  • 431/3123>

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  • Born in Beijing, Jet Li began studying wushu (the Chinese term for martial arts) at the age of 8...


  • Occupation:  ActorFilm/TV ProducerMartial arts
  • Age: 50
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