Hope Must Never Die
The Edge Of Nowhere
The Journey Begins
The Monkey King Returns
The Breaking Ground
A Crown Does Not Make You King
Until I Met You
A Part Of You That’s Missing
In Search of Tripitaka
A Hero To Save Us All
The New Legends Of Monkey has all the ingredients to be a disaster. Cheesy dialogue, stiff, wooden acting and some wonderfully misplaced CGI give this family friendly show a bad 90s-fantasy-vibe to it yet because of this, it somehow makes the show all that more endearing. There are still some pacing issues with the plot and some of the comedy fails to hit the mark but New Legends Of Monkey manages to nail its cheesy action show vibe to great effect making it a real guilty pleasure to watch.
The opening episode is admittedly a little rough. We’re told 7 times in so many minutes that a legendary god warrior called The Monkey King (Chai Hansen) needs to be brought back to life after 500 years of disappearing along with the other Gods. Demons rum amok in the world and various clusters of humans try and deal with their presence as best they can. Orphaned at a young age, Tripitaka (Luciane Buchanan) is raised by scholars with one mission – free the Monkey King from his stone slumber. After a series of events transpire that see her hunted by powerful demons, the Monkey King is brought back and together with a band of unlikely heroes, set out on a journey to find the Sacred Scrolls and stop the evil forces at work. In true fantasy setting the story is unashamedly cliched with all the usual tropes you’d expect in this genre at play although after a few episodes, the show settles into a much more consistent tone.
The characters themselves all slot nicely into their archetypal tropes with little deviation from these standardised personas. Monkey is a brash, confident God whose arrogance often leads the team into trouble. Tripitaka is the main focal point as the only non-God of the group and thus easiest to empathise with and both Pigsy (Josh Thomson) and Sandy (Emilie Cocquerel) flesh things out as the other two Gods in the group. Along the way the characters constantly wind up in trouble which does leave little time to really develop each of the characters as well as they could have as they stumble from one set piece to the next.
The New Legends Of Monkey has a standard serialised plot at play here although there are a few standalone episodes that work outside the context of the overarching story. Throughout the episodes there’s some good work done to answer questions around Monkey’s imprisonment, just why the scrolls are so important to the demons and whether Tripitaka’s parents are still alive or not. The various subplots work well with a climactic episode finalising a lot of these questions while keeping the overall lighthearted feel to the series very much intact throughout
The goofy slapstick does take some getting used to, especially against some of the darker, more serious action here but as a family friendly fantasy, The New Legends Of Monkey is a lighthearted, enjoyable show. This one won’t be for everyone, especially with the simplistic plot and over the top mannerisms from characters, but the distinct cheesiness coupled with the incredulous story and fantasy elements make this a highly unorthodox and strangely endearing show. It’s not perfect and there’s not a whole lot of originality here but the story is enjoyable enough to forgive some of this making New Legends a fun but largely forgettable show long term.