Monster Hunt Bai Baihe

The monsters just got bigger.

Mixing live-action and animation with rumbustious results, fantasy adventure Monster Hunt was a giant box-office hit in China, but for all the knockabout action and slapstick humour Western audiences may still struggle to see what all the fuss was about.

That said, viewers over here will detect a touch of Men in Black about the narrative, which takes place in a medieval China where monsters adopt human disguises to pass incognito and stay beyond the reach of the Monster Hunt Bureau. However, the film’s hero and heroine – a timid orphan with a gammy leg and a spunky young monster-hunting woman (Bai Baihe) – have barely a fraction of the wit and charm of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.

At any rate, the sight of Jing Boran’s goofy hero getting impregnated by a monster queen evidently tickled the fancy of Chinese cinemagoers, who made Monster Hunt the country’s biggest ever film. And further box-office records look set to fall with the release of sequel Monster Hunt 2, which has just had its domestic opening in time for the first weekend of the Chinese New Year.

Certificate PG. Runtime 112 mins. Director Raman Hui

Monster Hunt debuts on Sky Cinema Premiere on 14 February. Available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital from Manga Entertainment.