I have to admit, this issue's film for review, Monster Hunt, surprised and, at times, confused me. This recent release (2015) from China is a fanciful look at a world in the past in which both races, human and monster, existed alongside one another.
At first, it was peaceful, until the humans drove the monsters away in an attempt to claim total control over the land. The monsters, however, learned to disguise themselves as humans and live among them, so special Monster Hunters were trained to track them down and capture them, for which they were paid very well.
Xiaolin preparing to fight disguised monsters
When a civil war started in the monster controlled lands, the monster throne was usurped and the pregnant Monster Queen became hunted. She, along with two protectors, Gao and Ying, fled into the human lands and hid.
Disguised as humans, they end up in the village of Tianyin, a young man who, although his grandmother keeps reminding him that he is descended from a line of monster hunters, wants to just be left alone to cook and sew. The monsters are exposed by a real monster hunter, Xiaolin, but after a fight in Tianyin's house, the guardians are caught by another monster hunter, Gang, while the Monster Queen escapes on her own.
Altogether, it is a very light and playful story, somehow managing to not to get bogged down in some of its own topics, like torture, monsters-eating-people-eating-monsters, or cross gender birthing.
Furious, Xiaolin ties Tianyin up, planning to use him as bait to capture the Queen, but the Queen captures him first during the night. She tells him she is dying and begs Tianyin to protect her baby, then impregnates him with it (I wont go into details about that, other than to say it is not the anatomically correct way to do it). Xiaolin finds them as they attacked by a larger monster who is also out to capture the Queen.
After that, things get strange.
Protectors Gao and Ying in their natural monster forms
Xiaolin and Tianyin escape back to Tianyin's village, only to find all the townspeople have been captured by the Monster Hunter Bureau (turns out, almost the entire village is comprised of monsters in hiding). The Bureau is also hunting for the Queen and baby.
Our two heroes escape and manage to get the monster heir "birthed". They learn to take care of it, with Tianyin acting as its mother. However, even though Xiaolin finds herself developing feelings for both of them, she is also drawn by greed to the money she can get for selling the baby monster, whom they have named "Wuba".
The Queen Monster, begging a terrified Tianyin to protect her child
Meanwhile, guardians Gao and Ying escape from Gang with a little song and dance, literally. I had pretty much got used to only seeing dancing and singing in Bollywood films and some Japanese productions, but here was a full on musical number with monsters crooning about life, along with various strange creatures and odd frogs, as they manage to turn the tables on the veteran monster hunter.
Eventually, Wuba ends up in the kitchen of a restaurant where monsters are served as food and several attempts are made to cook him while Xiaolin and Tianyin, along with the Queen's guardians, who managed to escape from the monster hunter, attempt to rescue him.
Xiaolin, confirming Tianyin is pregnant
This film was a major hit in China and one of the biggest commercial successes of all time there. This is in part due to the "monsters", who, rather than being something horrific, are more comical, bouncy beings of CGI. Even the most ferocious seems more cartoonish than dangerous, which makes this film great for kids. This is in complete contrast to the Korean horror film I reviewed last month, The Host, which featured a truly horrendous creature which graphically preyed on terrified citizens.
Having said that, it completely failed to get any attention in the US, which seems to surprise some reviewers, but I do not find it strange at all. Most of the films I have reviewed over the years rarely found their ways into American theatres, and when they did, they were in smaller venues, specializing in foreign or "odd" films.
Adorable newborn Monster King, Wuba
The film is entirely in Mandarin, so there is not much there in terms of linguistic opportunities (although the monsters do speak their own language a few times).
Altogether, it is a very light and playful story, somehow managing to not to get bogged down in some of its own topics, like torture, monsters-eating-people-eating-monsters, or cross gender birthing. I would definitely recommend Monster Hunt to anyone wanting a fun foreign film to watch. It is a family film, and does have plenty of childish humour, so do not expect a lot of sophisticated jokes. Make sure you watch the very end for a strange dance number that are part of the credits!
|At The Cinema - Monster Hunt|
|All images are copyright Edko Films|
All images are Copyright - CC BY-SA (Creative Commons Share Alike) by their respective owners, except for Petey, which is Public Domain (PD) or unless otherwise noted.
|Letter From The Editor - Culture and Language, Again|
|Learning A Language Is Learning Its Culture|
|Revisited - Early Bardic Literature in Ireland|
|Languages in Peril - Save Medan Hokkien!|
|In Others' Words - Ulrike and Peter Rettig|
|At the Cinema - Monster Hunt|
|Where Are You?|
|Book Look - Language Alter Ego|
|Basic Guide to Italian|
|At A Glance|
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Letter From The Editor - No Politics • Make Your Own Language Group • A History of Research in Study Abroad • Parrot Time on Patreon • Languages in Peril - Sayonara, Ainu • At the Cinema - La Coppia dei Campioni • Where Are You? • Book Look - The Bible of the Language Learners and Polyglots • Basic Guide to Romanian • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - Hope and Failing • Six Ways To Choose Which Languages To Learn • Learning Spanish - The trials, the tribulations and one triumphant learning hack • At the Cinema - The Last King (Birkebeinerne) • Celebrations - Birkebeinerrennet • Where Are You? • Book Look - Langenscheidt Dictionaries • Basic Guide to Swedish • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - Culture and Language, Again • Learning A Language Is Learning Its Culture • Revisited - Early Bardic Literature in Ireland • Languages in Peril - Save Medan Hokkien! • In Others' Words - Ulrike and Peter Rettig • At the Cinema - Monster Hunt • Where Are You? • Book Look - Language Alter Ego • Basic Guide to Italian • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - A Kind Word • Language and Power: The Hidden Struggle • 4 Ways To Learn Through Reading • Language Learning is for everyone! • Languages in Peril - The Decline of Sicilian • At the Cinema - The Host • Where Are You? • Book Look - Italian Short Stories for Beginners • Basic Guide to Hungarian • At A Glance
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