‘Monster Hunt 2’: A fun film that is audio-visually vibrant (IANS Review, Rating: ***)

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Film: “Monster Hunt 2”; Director: Raman Hui; Cast: Tony Leung Chui Wai, Baihe Bai, Jing Boran, Yo Yang, Eric Tsang, Yuchun Li, Tony Yo-ning Yang; Rating: ***

Director Raman Hui’s, live-action cum animated fantasy – “Monster Hunt 2” is a simple family reunion story which is audio-visually vibrant. There is an innocence in this pure entertainment. But despite this, it suffers from the sequel syndrome as the narrative lacks depth.

The film takes off from where it left in its first edition. After the cute and cuddly Wuba (the young, four-armed, radish-faced, baby monster prince) is now settled among his people in the Monster Realm there are evil forces that try to capture him. So he once again crosses into the human world.

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In the human world, Wuba strikes up a friendship with Tu Sigu (Tony Leung) a small-time rogue who is addicted to gambling and his monster buddy Ben-Ben.

Meanwhile his foster human parents – Xiaolan (Bai Baihe) and Tianyin (Jing Boran) miss him. They regret their well-intended decision and long to be united with him. They set out to find their “son” with the help of Yun Qing (Yo Yang), the seemingly righteous leader of a monster hunters’ guild.

How their paths merge, forms the crux of the tale.

The film hooks you with excellent performances and brilliant voice-overs from its ace cast. Each character is significant, over-the-top, but appears realistic.

The plot developed from a story by screenwriters Jack Ng, Sunny Chan and Su Liang is all fluff. It is charming enough on a scene-to-scene basis as it is packed with all the classic fantasy tropes that include a Hindi film style dance sequence, action-packed chases and martial arts antics. There are also large dollops of silly gags and emotional scenes that speak about family bonding and co-existence. But all this glitter could barely conceal the film’s disjointed and hollow narrative.

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With ace production values, “Monster Hunt 2” is technically flawless. The gorgeous computer generated images created by the visual effects rendered by over half a dozen multinational companies, merge well with the live footage lensed by ace director of photography, Anthony Pun. But what elevates the look of the film is Yee Chung-man’s brilliantly designed costumes.

The music by Leon Ko matches the brilliance of the visuals. The beautifully choreographed song at the very beginning, seamlessly meshes with the narrative and the composition of the dazzling action-sequences too are worth a special mention.

Overall, “Monster Hunt 2” is a fun film and in spite of its all Chinese cast, the film has a universal appeal.

–IANS

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