The New Legends of Monkey (2018) TV Review

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Summary: A new take on the story of the Monkey King, Pigsy, Sandy and Tripitaka the monk, on their journey to restore the world.
I remember hearing about this show because of whitewashing rumors. This show is based on Chinese legend “The Monkey King” and people seemed to be upset that the main cast were white actors. When I looked at the promo picture they displayed, I was kind of confused because everyone is a person of color minus the woman on the far right. I recognized the actor playing the Monkey King from Mako Mermaids and I remember he’s Australian-Thai. The other two actors look like POCs as well, so I was confused but I clicked off and didn’t think about it again.
When it was finally put on Netflix, I noticed it, and saw Chai Hansen’s face and I went “Oh yeah, it’s that show… sure.” So while at work, I decided to watch it on my break and I have to say I loved it. I literally finished it in a day. Then I watched it again in a day and a half. I love this show and I hope they get a season two because I’m not playing games with Netflix.
Don’t cancel this show.
Pros:
Cast and Characters. There isn’t a character in the show, regular or guest appearance that I didn’t like. I liked everyone. Everyone is written differently, they stand out from each other, and I think all of the actors (everyone is not always consistently good) do a good job for a majority of the show.
Chai Hansen as Monkey. 
6f3cb4e70b9144a9d0047046e602dd0eMonkey is a brash, childish and kind of arrogant young man. Not sure what his age is, I would assume somewhere in his 20s but in human years since he’s a God. He was supposed to be something great 500 years ago, but because the alleged crime he committed, he was seen as a traitor and thief and later sentenced to spend eternity in a rock. When Monkey was released, he lived on fanfare and there’s obviously much for him to learn but he doesn’t shy away from learning something. I mean, it might take a moment, but he won’t shy away. He’s always up for a fight, and he has no problem speaking his mind, he’s uncensored. I usually love characters like him, he’s kind of rude and arrogant but he’s sweet at the best of times. He’s also a source for a lot of humor in the show. I think Chai Hansen was a great choice for the character, his comedic timing was on point. He was charismatic, handsome in the role, and it’s easy to tell he enjoyed playing Monkey. He had great chemistry with Luciane Buchanan, which might mean something down the line, who knows, I won’t mind either way, but the chemistry is there if it does. His emotional moments were strong, and I can’t wait to see more into his back story. Also, the snarl lol, his snarl was great. He reminds me a lot of Inuyasha and I love that character so Monkey was easy to love.
Luciane Buchanan as Tripitaka. 
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We don’t know her real name. She is a young woman, I’m assuming about 18, who was left as a baby at a… school? I don’t know lol, but she’s been learning from The Scholar, until a demon comes on night, takes the Monkey King’s crown and kills everyone, including the real Tripitaka. So, when she finds the demon, after running to the nearby town, she steals the crown and releases the Monkey King. In order to escape the town after the demon causes ruckus, she receives help from a monastery. So, they help her pose as a monk, so she’s not only pretending to be a boy monk, she wasn’t named Tripitaka, she took it on herself in order to keep Monkey from leaving and preventing her from fulfilling the quest that Tripitaka is supposed to complete. I like her. I wasn’t sure at first because the first episode, her acting is a little meh, but as the show goes on, she gets better, she fills her role better and I definitely ended up liking her in the end. She’s like a mixture of Katara and Kagome, which I mean, they are kind of the same character lol. I love that she just takes on the mantle to get the job done, she’s headstrong, stubborn but also kind and tries to see the good in people… tries. The way she cares about her friends is sweet. She has no idea who her parents are, all she has is a letter from her mother, so there is an episode where she goes to find her old village and we learn a lot about her and she has to learn a lot. She definitely has a great arc throughout the show. I’ve never seen or heard of Luciane Buchanan before, but I think she does a good job. Like I said, in the beginning I was like meh, but she grew on me and I think she grew into the role.
Josh Thomson as Pigsy.
PigsyPigsy is also a God, but he starts off working for the demon Princess Locke. He gets a little push into his morals and what he is, that he ends up going with Tripitaka and Monkey. He likes to eat and he almost is like the big brother figure in the group, he’s seen a lot but he’s been on the wrong side of things, so sometimes his ideas, are kind of crazy lol. However, he definitely grows to care about the others. He and Monkey have some great moments together and I we get to see them learn from each other even more in the second season (Not playing Netflix, second season). He also is a source for a lot of laughter, it just seems natural for the character and the actor. I’ve never seen Josh Thomson in anything but he’s great and likable as Pigsy, even when he was being “bad” I liked him. He’s just likable and his comedic timing is great.
Emilie Cocquerel as Sandy. 
Sandy
Probably one of my favorites in the show. Sandy is a God, perhaps a water God since she has the ability to control water. She lives in the sewers, and she meets Tripitaka when chasing after a demon that disguised itself as a little boy. We don’t really know much about her. She’s living in the sewers, but we don’t really know why. I think it’s okay to say that Monica at least knows her since she gives her food, or gives someone food. Sandy is always willing to fight and when she meets Tripitaka, she’s ready to go on the quest to find the scrolls to rid the world of demons. She doesn’t really fight the ideas, she might give her two cents but she’s always down. She’s sassy, but she grows close to Tripitaka and she’s like the eccentric older sister. Her back story is also a little sad, we learn about her in Tripitaka’s episode and it helps give an idea of how Sandy came to be who she is. I love her. Never heard of Emilie Cocquerel before either, but she’s great. She’s so likable and cute, that I can’t help but to love her character.

 

Supporting Characters. We meet a lot of characters throughout the ten episodes. There are a few that we see more than others, that have more to do than others.
Jarred Blakiston as Font Demon. 
newlegendsofmonkey_03He is the demon we see from the beginning, he kind of reminds me of an evil Elf lol. The first episode when he faces off against Monkey, it’s hilarious because his facial expressions of being unimpressed are the best. His job is to hunt down and the find the others, mostly at the beginning, and we see him again later. I think since he’s a demon, he can be killed and then reborn as another “Front Demon”, it’d be interesting to see what happens with him in the second season.
  • Josh McKenzie as Davari. I don’t want to spoil anything, I kind of guessed his role but he is Monkey’s old friend from back in the day. He manages to have a lot of influence over Monkey, he’s like that hype man who doesn’t always hype for good reasons lol. I enjoyed him though lol.
  • Jordan Mooney as Raxion. He is a demon who is tasked to find Gods to bring back to Jade Mountain to translate the ancient scrolls. He first comes in contact with the others when he brings them to the shaman. We see a lot more of him throughout the season and he’s cool too. He feels ignored and glossed over by the boss and he wants to do something that will gain him favor.
  • Rachel House as Monica. I recognized her from the start, she was Moana’s grandmother in Moana and in Thor: Ragnarök as the Grandmaster’s henchwoman. She is the tavern keeper. She meets Tripitaka first, she even employs her. We see her a few times throughout the show. I like the voice she puts on for the character lol.
  • Daniel Watterson as Shaman. I feel like if this was a serious movie, Jared Leto would play this part because he reminded me of Jared Leto lol. But he creates this “Breaking Room” where he has the Gods that Raxion kidnaps and he buries them in their minds so they can mindlessly translate the scrolls. He’s cool, calm and collected. I’m interested to see what he does in the second season.
The Story. It’s a 10 episode show so it gets the job done pretty quickly and I think it’s handled so well. Of course it ended too soon but I think the fact that there is a consistent narrative and the story flows naturally, even the detours are for character development, it’s a fantastic adventure. I don’t think there is really any plot holes that are glaring. At least not that I noticed the first two times.
Emotional. There are some really good emotional moments throughout the show. We learn parts of characters backstories and most of the time it’s kind of sad. We learn why Monkey was imprisoned, and it’s kind of sad learning it. Sandy’s back story was very sad, she tells it to Tripitaka who thinks the Gods didn’t have families. We don’t know about Pigsy, but I’m sure it’s kind of sad. There are also some emotional moments during the episodes where they’re trapped in the “Breaking Room” because Monkey goes too far into his sub conscience, he says some heartbreaking things. The show has a LOT of heart and surprisingly it’s very emotional. I didn’t cry or anything but I felt those emotions.
Chemistry between Characters. I think the main four characters have great chemistry with each other. They go on the adventure together and spend the show together, they should be able to feel like a unit, and they do. They all have their strengths and they make up for the others weaknesses. They can bounce off of each other well. We don’t really know how long they’ve been trekking, I want to say like a week, but they trust each other enough where they will do things to make sure the other is okay.
It’s Funny! I cracked up a lot during the show. I thought it was really funny. I think all of our leads get to have chances to be funny. I think Monkey is the source for a lot of the humor, due to his arrogance and the trouble he gets into. The episode where they meet the Monkey Clan was a great one because the followers of the Monkey King were a bit eccentric and I very much enjoyed them. Or the interactions between Monkey and Tripitaka because he has to save her, or they get into arguments and his facial expressions are hilarious. Sandy has a lot of great humorous lines as does Pigsy. The humor is lighthearted and I think there’s laughs in there for everyone. I find it hilarious how Monkey has to summon his cloud and the fact that it doesn’t work, so he tries to either play it off, or act like it doesn’t hurt his feelings that his magic isn’t working right lol. It’s so cute!
Fun Adventure. It’s fun to watch. Being that it’s 10 episodes, it really gets moving and it’s kind of nonstop, I never felt a lull in the show. Maybe in the beginning but that’s to be expected. I love the fact that the villain was kept in shadows until we learned who it was. I loved the action scenes, the choreography wasn’t always good but the actors (and their stunt doubles) do a good job with making it look real. I also believe that Chai Hansen can do most of his own stunts so his stuff looks really good. Plus, just watching them go on their adventure, and the different places they go, the different people they meet, it’s just fun. It’s a good time.
Cons:
Cheesy. Not gonna lie, it’s very cheesy. I mean, it’s not like annoyingly cheesy but it’s endearing and cute cheesy. Some of the action isn’t always good so it looks kind of lame. The effects, like when the Gods are moving really fast is kind of meh sometimes too. Also, the Forest Kin, they should have been scary I thought but they were kind of meh too. So while there is a lot of good, it has some cheesy mehness too.
Inconsistent Acting. So I don’t think this is a problem throughout, mostly in the beginning but I think the acting gets hammy when they take themselves too seriously. It’s a fun show and I think for the most part, they know that’s it’s a fun show and when they do that, it just feels natural and the characters feel real. In the first episode the most, I think they try to do too much and I was like “meh” but it really picked up later.
Familiar. I don’t really find this a negative, at least not completely but I think this show feels a lot like other things I’ve seen. It has a lot of elements of Inuyasha, Avatar: The Last Airbender and something else that I can’t remember right now. Throughout the show, I’ll go “Oh that reminds me of…” and I’ll kind of be taken out of the adventure. For example, Tripitaka can “sit boy” the Monkey King with his crown and when it happened, I was like “oh, that’s like Inuyasha”, except I don’t find it funny like you would in the anime. “Sit Boy” is funny in that it just drops him to the ground, in this show, there is a chant she says, that if her intent is to teach him a lesson or something, the crown will kind of tighten or cause pain or something. He was shocked the first time and the second time he looked hurt that she did it. I mean, he was being rude so there was a lot of emotions going on in that scene. It’s still familiar but during my second watch, I was able to just enjoy it without comparing it to other stuff, but I can imagine someone being really annoyed by that if they’ve seen those other shows.
Overall, I very much enjoyed The New Legends of Monkey, I very much enjoyed all of the characters and their antics. I think all of the actors do a great job having fun and making these roles feel like real people even if some of them remind me other characters. Chai Hansen and Emilie Cocquerel are stand outs for sure. I think the main four have great chemistry with each other, being that they feel like a friend unit. I also thought the show was very funny and it’s just fun all around to watch. It’s a great adventure and I had a great time. It’s also emotional, not like cry emotional but it has some moments that gets you right in the feels. With that said, it does have some negatives in that it’s very cheesy in places, the acting was inconsistent in the beginning and it is familiar being that it reminds me obviously of other shows. But overall, I loved it and I can’t wait for season two. SEASON TWO NETFLIX!!
Rating: 3.80 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen The New Legends of Monkey? If not, seriously go watch it and have fun. It’s 10 episodes. If so, let me know your thoughts down below!
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