The Magic of “The Monkey King” Unveiled in Behind-the-Scenes Documentary
Above: Donnie Yen stars in “The Monkey King”.
3D epic The Monkey King <西遊記之大鬧天宮> has generated a lot of buzz with its fancy costumes and Hollywood-grade special effects. The production team recently gave viewers a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes effort required to transform blue screens and concept art into Sun Wukong’s living world.
Directed by Cheang Pou Soi (鄭保瑞), The Monkey King introduces lead character Sun Wukong and chronicles his birth and rebellion against the Heavens. Starring top Chinese actors Donnie Yen (甄子丹), Chow Yun Fat (周潤發), and Aaron Kwok (郭富城), the film hopes to set box office records when it hits theaters on Chinese New Year, January 31, 2014.
Shot almost entirely in front of blue screens, a whopping ninety-eight percent of the film was created digitally with the help of a 1900-member special effects team, seventy of which are Hollywood veterans. To showcase their impressive work, the film studio released the first part of a behind-the-scenes documentary on December 17, along with photos showing Donnie Yen’s transformation into the Monkey King.
Headed by American visual effects supervisors behind Hollywood blockbusters 300, Fantastic 4, and Spider-Man 3, the special effects team spent thousands of man-hours and over $1 million USD to recreate Sun Wukong’s fantastical journey. Extra attention was given to the Monkey King’s look, from the muscles on his body to the hairs on his skin. To ensure realism, the team painstakingly selected the correct color mixture for his hair and manually glued them onto Donnie. They allegedly used up to 200 kilograms of hair over the course of production.
Not only did the special effects team create magic, the actors also contributed greatly to their characters’ stunning images. Donnie was certainly tested on his patience as he sat through six hours of body makeup every day, waiting while dozens of pieces of prosthetic skin were carefully glued to his face. His body suit required five people’s help to put on and take off, and its tightness often caused difficulty in breathing. Even removing the makeup created headaches; the sessions frequently lasted as long as five hours.
As daunting as it seems, the cast and crew are proud of the end-product, declaring that the special effects are far more superior than that of Hollywood’s groundbreaking 3D film Avatar. One of the biggest investments in recent Chinese movie history, The Monkey King will likely break many industry limits, and may create a new trend of putting “Asia’s super heroes”, as Donnie dubbed them, onto the big screen.
The Making of “The Monkey King”
This article is written by Katrine for JayneStars.com.