The New Legends of Monkey 2018 Netflix Tv Show Series Review Impelreport
The New Legends of Monkey is a far more sophisticated piece. Chai Hansen’s Monkey is a more complex creature, Pigsy (Josh Thomson) and Sandy (Emilie Cocquerel) are played with more nuance, and in a strange homage to the original, Tripitaka – played by Luciane Buchanan – is indeed a girl, dressed as a boy. The story here, as with the much-loved earlier adaptation, is remarkably faithful to the original story, with some touches that borrow more from the playbook of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer than the older, more arcane texts of Wu Cheng’en.
Tripitaka is, to some extent, our Buffy, working as a waitress when we meet her, and startled to discover that her customer is the demon which had earlier stolen the golden crown needed to release the Monkey King from the statue in which he is imprisoned. Everything goes pretty much as you’d expect, and, with Monkey unleashed, it’s game on. He, of course, being such a chaotic spirit, isn’t that interested in Tripitaka’s greater mission of enlightenment, but it doesn’t take too much to nudge all of the pieces of this jigsaw into the more familiar arrangement of the story.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about The New Legends of Monkey is that it’s good, though if you’re a diehard fan of the earlier adaptation you have to come to this with an open mind. It is elegantly modern, at least as far as a predominantly period story can be, but it remains oddly familiar, even when the two versions of the story deviate and meander around some of the story points of the much older, 16th-century text.
The series gently bends your expectations and plays with some modern (and seemingly outmoded) ideas of gender and power. In this story Tripitaka uses the identity of the boy monk to embark on a journey that she, as a girl, would never be permitted to take. Conversely, the restless and disruptive Monkey yearns to escape from her and the magical tether which, effectively, binds him to embarking on the journey to the west alongside her. This is crisp and joyful. A little silly where it needs to be, and not so different from the adaptation of our collective childhood that it’s uncertain and unfamiliar. OK, might be a stretch, but this Monkey, like the last, is gently, and thrillingly, magical.