The New Legends of Monkey
By Joyce Slaton,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Campy fantasy-adventure reboot is silly fun for kids.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Protecting innocent people from unearthly threats is central focus, but it can be hard to tell the good guys from the bad: Though we're told that one group is good and one is bad, both use force to fight battles. Implicit messages are found on each show: be true to yourself, friends are loyal to one another, etc.
Positive Role Models
Tripitaka bravely accepts an important quest that will help the people where she lives; she performs small kindnesses such as giving her food to a hungry monk, and often prevails through fast thinking, clever trickery instead of violence. The Monkey King is playful, endearing; he generally uses force against rivals. Cast is multicultural, but since original series this update is based on was a Japanese show adapting a Chinese book, some have complained about lack of Asian actors in the cast. Women are cast in strong and central roles -- including show's main hero (who was played by a male actor in the original).
Violence & Scariness
Choreographed martial arts battles, often set to music, are frequent -- combatants may use swords, batons, other weapons. People may be hit or kicked and then fall to the ground and lay there, unmoving; occasionally characters are fatally wounded, but we see no blood or gore; impacts tend to be offscreen. Characters have unearthly powers, like lightning bolts that can be hurled or the ability to choke someone without touching them. Heroes and villains engage in battles.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Expect flirting, dating, the occasional brief kiss.
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Language is mild; the Monkey King occasionally refers to the "seven hells," and demons and the Monkey King frequently insult each other, hurling insults like "you snot-knuckled leather head."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Customers at a tavern drink "ale" from a pitcher; no one acts drunk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The New Legends of Monkey is a fantasy adventure about a group of friends on a heroic quest. The cast is multicultural, and a powerful and noble young woman is the main character (gender-flipped from the original 1970s Japanese show on which this one is based). Violence is mild, but frequent: Expect choreographed martial arts battles on each episode, some with weapons like swords or batons or with characters using supernatural powers like lightning bolts that shoot from their fingers. People are sometimes hit and then fall down and lie still; no blood or gore is shown. At least one death takes place on-screen, but the injuries that caused it are not seen. Sexual content is relegated to flirting and the occasional quick kiss; there's no cursing (except for a literal mention of "hells"), but rivals frequently exchange arcane insults like this one from the Monkey King: "You snot-knuckled leather head." Characters drink ale at a tavern; no one acts drunk.
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The New Legends of Monkey
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Fun show for the whole family
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What's the Story?
Based on a 1970s Japanese show that was popular with kids in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, THE NEW LEGENDS OF MONKEY follows the adventures of noble Tripitaka (Luciane Buchanan), a young warrior/scholar who awakens the legendary Monkey King (Chai Hansen) from a centuries-long imprisonment. Together with their faithful companions Pigsy (Josh Thomson) and Sandy (Emilie Cocquerel), they embark on a quest to recover their people's sacred scrolls, return them to their mountain home, and cast off the demons that have enslaved their land.
Is It Any Good?
Kids love a dark (but not scary!) mystery, and this cheerful, goofy show fits the bill, with its easy-to-grasp premise, relatable characters, and supernatural action. The original Japanese show, known as Monkey or Monkey Magic in its dubbed-in-English form, was a cult hit for kids overseas in the late '70s and early '80s, and this remake is timed just right for nostalgia-watching, since these kids now have kids of their own. The New Legends of Monkey is pitched right, too, with enough adventure to keep kids interested, and hammy, campy humor that'll please parents.
In fact, the whole enterprise has the vibe of vintage sword-and-sorcery shows like Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, but aimed at younger viewers. Most episodes have messages that seem tailor-made for tweens: Follow your heart but use your head, stay true to yourself, hope must never die, etc. The show's not-too-scary scene-stealing villains are given to flowery speeches, eye-popping outfits, and pretty wimpy villainy. And Tripitaka's group of four quest buddies is sweet and supportive through every adventure. If you're up for a fantasy epic you can watch with your second-grader, give this one a try.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about reboots and retellings. Have you watched episodes of the 1970s show Monkey? Do you think a revisit was necessary? Why, or why not?
Families can talk about shows like The New Legends of Monkey that revolve around legends. What is a legend? Why are many legends set in foreign lands? What does that say about the way this show's audience looks at people from another time and culture?
How do Tripitaka, the Monkey King, Pigsy, and Sandy demonstrate teamwork and courage? Why are those important character strengths?
- Premiere date: April 20, 2018
- Cast: Chai Hansen, Luciane Buchanan, Josh Thomson
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Drama
- Character Strengths: Courage, Teamwork
- TV rating: NR
- Last updated: February 18, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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