Helmed by Shrek 3 director Raman Hui, Monster Hunt is a great film combining live action and brilliantly-executed animation. Packed with lively characters and slapstick comedy, the film is fun to watch yet hints at more profound things.
With humans and monsters alike chasing down monster royalty, the dying monster queen hides her egg – by forcing Tianyin (Jung Boran), a guy whose life goals are to cook and sew clothes, to swallow her egg. Tianyin doesn’t want that responsibility though, so he travels with rookie monster hunter Xiaonan (Bai Baihe) to exchange the monster inside him for profit.
While it may seem funny that Tianyin gets pregnant, the film is challenging long-established gender roles and plenty of other stereotypes: you’d expect the monster king to be a frightful creature, but Wuba’s a cute little thing who looks like a radish.
There are other thought-provoking messages throughout the film – an evil monster becomes toothless but ends up living happily with good monsters, a rusty sword proves its usefulness – but it never gets too explicit.
With Eric Tsang Chi-wai and Sandra Ng Kwan-yu in the cast, Monster Hunt has plenty of hilarious moments that will be particularly relatable to the local audience. There’s a bit of fruit ninja involved when Wuba spits out fruit out like a machine gun. And to complete the package, the film features several original songs with witty lyrics that contribute to the storytelling rather than merely acting as a soundtrack.
Monster Hunt may well be the redeemer of Hong Kong cinema’s faltering reputation.