The stories about Son Goku and his friends are an integral part of pop culture. The manga and anime Dragon Ball have cult status. But did you know that the Japanese series has a Chinese original?
Son Goku is based on the monkey king Sun Wukong from the Chinese legend Journey to the West. In addition to Dragon Ball, four other strong film adaptations on Netflix, Amazon and Disney+ have borrowed some of the famous original.
Journey to the West: Sun Wukong is the “original Son Goku”
The 16th century novel The Journey to the West * is one of the four classic novels of Chinese literature. These are them most important literary works in China. Journey to the West has by far been made into a film most often and Dragon Ball is the most famous representative.
This is what The Journey to the West is about: The first part tells the story of Sun Wukong. He is a monkey who first becomes the king of the monkeys and then becomes immortal. He causes trouble in heaven, whereupon the Jade Emperor locks him in a mountain.
The second part tells of a monk who travels from China to the West. He wants to find Buddha’s holy writings and gathers lots of companions around him on his journey. One of them is Sun Wukong, whom the monk frees from his stone prison.
Monkey tail and monk clothing: Dragon Ball took all of this from Journey to the West
It is no coincidence that the names Sun Wukong and Son Goku sound similar. The legend of the Monkey King is also known in Japan. There Sun Wukong is called Son Gokū. Also the choice of Son Goku’s outfit didn’t fall by chance. The orange and yellow suit is reminiscent of the clothing of Buddhist monks in China.
Dragon Ball: Son Goku and his Jindujun Cloud
Next to his Monkey tail and the ability to transform into one during the full moon Were monkeys To transform, Son Goku has two items from Sun Wukong that all Dragon Ball fans know:
Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama adopted the motif of shared journey and friendship. While scrolls are collected in the novel, Dragon Ball is known to collect mysterious ones Dragon balls.
There are four other adaptations on Netflix, Amazon & Disney+ that are really worth it
There are dozens of films, series, games and even LEGO sets based on Journey to the West. We recommend to all Dragon Ball fans two series and two films.
On Netflix: Journey to the West is a faithful adaptation
The Netflix series Journey to the West was produced in Australia and New Zealand in 2018. In it, the monk Tripitaka (The Night Agent star Luciane Buchanan) sets out to find seven scrolls with the help of the monkey king Monkey (Chai Hansen) in order to restore peace to the land.
The New Legends of Monkey – S01 Trailer (English) HD
The fantasy series is reminiscent of old 90s adventures like Xena and Hercules, but has much fancier effects. She particularly scores with Monkey’s flirtatious portrayal and her humor. You can Use the Netflix series as a good introductionto get to know the most important characters in the template.
Rent on Amazon: Jackie Chan and Jet Li team up in Forbidden Kingdom
The 2008 action-comedy Forbidden Kingdom was mostly known for that Martial arts legends Jackie Chan and Jet Li both star.
The main character is Jason Tripitakas (Michael Angarano), who is transported from modern America to ancient China. There he must bring the Monkey King’s staff to its owner in order to defeat the Jade Warlord. Jason is supported by the monk (Jet Li) and one of the eight immortals, Lu Yan (Jackie Chan). Jet Li also stars as the Monkey King.
Forbidden Kingdom – Trailer (German) HD
A big The highlight of the film is the fight sequence between Chan and Li, in which they fight for the Monkey King’s staff in their first meeting. The film combines elements you know from Dragon Ball with Asian action film culture.
A Disney+ Original: In American Born Chinese, the Monkey King’s son meets a high school student
Disney has also taken on the topic and adapted a comic by Gene Luen Yang, American Born Chinese. In it, the son of the Monkey King comes from heaven to earth. He searches for a mysterious fourth scroll and needs the help of Jin Wang (Ben Wang), an average high school student.
American Born Chinese – S01 Trailer (English) HD
The series scores with very good fight choreographies and their humor as well as the strong cast. It stars Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan, who were last seen together in Everything Everywhere All at Once. In addition to the main story, the series also skilfully deals with racist stereotypes as well as outsiderness and friendship.
On Netflix: A Chinese Odyssey is a diverse fantasy adventure
In the loose film adaptation A Chinese Odyssey, the Monkey King (played by Chinese multi-talent Stephen Chow) refuses to complete his mission and is punished with death for it. He is reincarnated as the Joker and leads a gang of robbers. However, two demon sisters confront him about his past.
A Chinese Odyssey Part One – Trailer (English)
A Chinese Odyssey is a two-part parody of Journey to the West and very famous in China. Fans of Stephen Chow’s Kung Fu Hustle will enjoy the very funny and equally heartbreaking adaptation.
Even though Dragon Ball and Son Goku have evolved since their beginnings in 1986, the influence of the novel is particularly noticeable in the early stories. Anyone who was disappointed by the only direct live-action adaptation to date, Dragon Ball Evolution, can perhaps console themselves with one of the four recommended film adaptations.
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