Film review: Monster Hunt - a distinctly Chinese live-action debut
Shrek animator Raman Hui's good vs. bad monsters film tackles a litany of clichéd Chinese attributes and is more engaging as cultural commentary than entertainment
A comedy adventure that fluctuates in tone, theme and character design, Monster Hunt is an acquired taste with a mega budget. Developed from a story by co-writer Alan Yuen Kam-lun ( Firestorm), this live-action debut by Shrek animator Raman Hui Shing-ngai features cuddly-faced creatures galore.
Set in a world in which fantastical monsters have been forced by humans into living in wilderness, the film kicks into action when the embryo son of the newly usurped monster king is passed into the stomach of the foolish young man Tianyin (Jing Boran), a village "mayor" who is oblivious his people are benevolent monsters living under human skins.
While the bad monsters plot to have the royal descendant killed, hunters such as rookie Xiaonan (Bai Baihe) also close in as they seek to sell it on to mercenary buyers in the city. In a strange twist, it turns out the captives are all waiting to be served as delicacies in the establishment run by a mysterious restaurateur (Wallace Chung Hon-leung) keen on mayhem.
Alternately comic and unnerving, the visually impressive movie swings past a litany of clichéd Chinese attributes: from the obsession with bearing children and cheating at mahjong tables to the barbaric custom of eating any non-human species that moves. Monster Hunt is far more engaging as cultural commentary than as entertainment.
Monster Hunt opens on July 16