• Gong Li

Gong Li (Photo : Reuters)

"Monkey King 2" recently held a star-studded press conference in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, where much of the major scenes will be shot. The new movie, which now stars Gong Li, Aaron Kwok, William Feng, Xiao Shenyang and Him Law, reveals new surprises for movie audiences. The sequel is going to feature an all-star cast which, according to the studio, promises to conquer the 2016 movie market.  

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Still to be directed by Hong Kong filmmaker Cheang Pou-Soi, "Monkey King 2" is a guaranteed upgrade and improvement of the first one. Although a box-office hit, having grossed 1.06 billion yuan ($170.8 million) at the 2014 Spring Festival, the first movie failed to get enough positive attention. This was attributed to the imperfect visual effects and make-up, and a "childish" script. 

"We know the disadvantages of the first one," Cheang said. "We will improve it and upgrade it. We will challenge not only the technologies, but also ourselves."

The title character will now be played by Hong Kong singer and actor Aaron Kwok. The original Monkey King was played by action star Donnie Yen who had to beg off in the sequel due to a scheduling conflict. Kwok played the Bull Demon King in the first movie. 

The saintly Buddhist monk Xuanzang will be played by Feng Shaofeng, while the monk's second disciple Zhu Bajie, the pig demon, will be played by comedian Xiao Shenyang. The monk's third disciple Sha Wujing, a demon who once lived under water, will be played by Hong Kong actor Law Chung-him. 

Another surprise is the portrayal of the White-Bone Demon by internationally acclaimed actress Gong Li. The actress stated that "if the movie is going to be like what everyone thinks, it will be a failure. We will carefully recreate it and give people some surprises." 

The movie sequel's martial arts and action choreographer will be Hong Kong kung fu star Sammo Hung who promised a very good design and very difficult martial arts for the film, particularly for Gong Li's sequences.

The Chinese title "Monkey King 2" literally translates to "Subdue the White-Bone Demon in Three Rounds." The movie is adapted from a well-known chapter from "Journey to the West," China's classic fantasy novel. It is about how the Monkey King, Sun Wukong, protected the monk from being eaten by the a shape-shifting demoness during the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618-907).

The "Monkey King 2 in 3D" is produced by the Filmko Entertainment Group and 10 other film companies and will hit Chinese theaters on Feb. 8, 2016.