Thoughts on the “remake/reboot” of ‘Journey to the West’ or rather ‘Monkey’

Normally, I don’t get into the whole whitewashing conversation of POC characters in western films because some asian films can be remade and adapted to a western audience.  Also, most of the time I am wary about getting into rage-based identity politics but…

When I heard that ABC, TVNZ and Netflix were collaborating and doing a “remake” (I would call a tribute) of the 1970’s Japanese adaptation of the show ‘Monkey’, I was quite frankly, outraged.

Being Australian of the Asian variety, whilst I’m not fully chinese myself, I did grow up watching the multiple Chinese, Taiwanese and HK adaptations in Vietnamese dub.

Australian kids of East/South East Asian background are raised watching or at least knowing the story of ‘Journey to the West’. A chinese buddhist monk goes on a pilgrimage with his three disciples to collect the sacred scriptures from India.

When I saw the photo and the description of the ABC/TVNZ/Netflix adaptation, I didn’t see anything connecting to China. This story has some historical background. Xuansang is a real life 16th Century Monk who did go to India and collect scripture. Xuansang recorded his 17 year journey to India, which nine centuries later inspired Wu Cheng’en to write the ‘Journey to the West’ novel with supernatural elements.

If you can’t understand why Asians in the West (USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) are fucking angry over this, it’s because of the above, it has historical context.

I understand that this English Language ‘reboot’ series is not intended for an Eastern audience. In saying that, You would think the ABC and TVNZ take into account the outrage overseas with Scarlett Johansson and Emma Stone being cast for asian characters. Do they realise that there are Asian communities across Australia and New Zealand? Also, Asians are under-represented on local television and movies. I find it difficult to swallow what they have fed us. When it was announced that they were adapting this story, as soon as I saw the pictures of the cast,  I was disappointed and pissed off.

I still can’t get over it.

Mirror of the Witch

Is a Korean Fantasy Period Drama which I was watching because I was bored.
I’m taking a break from the Chinese Fantasy Period Drama “God of War, Zhao Yun” because it’s so long (I am 23 episodes in). I decided not to marathon chinese language shows, I guess because of reading subtitles and losing the attention span, but that tv series, but that’s due to parts being slow paced sometimes. And I digress…

Mirror of the Witch is only 8 episodes in. I’ve been watching it on VIKI.com an asian drama streaming site, and it’s licensed and subtitled by volunteers (so subbing isn’t always that great, but what the hey! It’s free!). The next episode is out in two more days (YAY I can’t wait)

What is it about? This is Viki’s description of the series:

Can a young royal physician change the fate of a crsed princess? When Queen Sim (Jang Hee Jin) is unable to conceive, she visits the shaman Hong Joo (Yum Jung Ah). Hong Joo’s powerful black magic helps the Queen give birth to a twin boy and girl, Soon Hwae (Yeo Hoi Hyun) and Seo Ri (Kim Sae Ron). But the dark sorcery comes with a price when Seo Ri is cursed, causing her to be abandoned and left for dead by the Queen. Seo Ri is rescued by the father of Poong Yeon (Kwak Si Yang), who becomes her only friend as she grows up in hiding. With Poong Yeon and her helper, Choi Hyun Seo (Lee Sung Jae), by her side, Seo Ri grows up as a witch, all the while trying to figure out how to lift the evil curse on her life. When Seo Ri meets the royal physician Heo Jun (Yoon Shi Yoon), will he help her change her fate and reclaim her rightful place? “Mirror of the Witch” is a 2016 South Korean drama series directed by Jo Hyun Tak. The series is inspired by the “Mirror of Eastern Medicine (Dongui Bogam),” a book compiled by the royal physician Heo Jun and published during the Joseon Dynasty and considered a classic in the study of Korean traditional medicine.

I surprisingly like what I’ve seen so far, because it’s a little funny and it’s not slow paced.

Right now, I’ll give it 3 out 5 stars.