The Monkey King tells the story of a monkey born from a rock who wishes to become an immortal being. The film is now streaming on Netflix.
Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers
For thousands of years, while the Buddha oversaw the universe, the immortal beings in Heaven and the kings in Hell took care of the earthly affairs. This created a balance. People respected the gods and followed the rules.
One night, a magical rock gave birth to a powerful being, a monkey that could shoot light beams from his eyes. The Jade Emperor, the architect of the universe and the lord of the immortals, wanted to get rid of the monkey.
However, the Buddha stopped him and asked him to let the monkey find his own way because he has an important destiny. The little monkey tries to get love and acceptance from other monkeys, but they reject him, as he is not one of them.
As a result, the monkey grows up all alone. He does not respect the gods and is not afraid of breaking the rules. A demon called the Demon of Havoc often kidnaps baby monkeys to eat them. One day, the monkey born from a rock decides to fight the Demon of Havoc and save a kidnapped monkey.
For that, he steals a weapon called the grand column from the Dragon King, who lives underwater. The grand column is a powerful stick that speaks to the monkey born from the rock, who names it Stick. With its help, the monkey defeats the Demon of Havoc.
He becomes a hero and is named the Monkey King. Despite becoming a hero, the Monkey King is not accepted by everyone. An old monkey tells him that he will always be alone and that Stick should be welded by immortal gods.
The Monkey King then decides to become an immortal god. To do that, he thinks that he must defeat 100 demons. He easily defeats 99 demons, and when the time comes to defeat the last demon, he meets a peasant girl named Lin.
Lin is a fan of the Monkey King and wishes to be his assistant. However, the Monkey King keeps reminding her that she is nothing but a pebble and that he does not need her. He defeats the 100th demon, but he still does not gain immortality.
The Dragon King comes to steal Stick from the Monkey King, but he fails. Lin not only helps save Stick but can also read, unlike the Monkey King. Stick convinces the Monkey King to let Lin accompany them on their adventures, and Lin becomes part of the team.
The Monkey King then decides to travel to Hell to erase the day of his death from the Scroll of Life and Death. Stick, which can take anyone anywhere, takes the Monkey King and Lin to Hell. While the Monkey King fights Yama, the demon of Hell, Lin reads her own and the Monkey King’s scroll.
The Monkey King crosses out the day of his death on his scroll but finds out that this makes him only half-immortal — he will not die of old age but he can still die in battle. He also finds out that he can find a way to become fully immortal in the Book of Everlasting Life.
He steals the Book of Everlasting Life and escapes with Lin. The book tells them that the Monkey King must eat a magical peach from the Enchanted Orchard of Everlasting Life to become immortal. As the Monkey King cannot read, Lin will have to take him there.
It is then revealed that Lin is working for the Dragon King because a drought is killing the people of her village and the Dragon King has promised to send rain to her village if Lin steals Stick from the Monkey King for him. That is why Lin wanted to be the Monkey King’s assistant in the first place.
The Dragon King sets a trap for the Monkey King, and Lin leads him there. Despite the Monkey King consuming a poisoned peach, the Dragon King fails to steal Stick once again. Meanwhile, in his drugged state, the Monkey King admits that Stick and Lin are his family.
However, once he regains his senses, he goes back to belittling Lin. He tells Lin that an old monkey once told him that he could not do everything that he wanted and that he would end up alone, but he continues acting selfishly.
Lin points out that he does not let anyone care for him, and the two of them argue. The fight does not last long, as the Monkey King finds out that the royal sorceress, Wangmu, brews the Elixir of Immortality in her laboratory in Heaven.
The Monkey King and Lin then travel to Heaven to steal the Elixir of Immortality. At Wangmu’s laboratory, the Monkey King consumes an unknown substance that turns him into a baby monkey. Lin realizes that the Monkey King is just a scared monkey who has no friends or family.
Before Lin could steal Stick, the Monkey King turns into an adult again, and Lin has no choice but to brew the Elixir of Immortality with him. Wangmu catches them stealing from her laboratory and fights the Monkey King.
Lin uses Stick to brew the Elixir of Immortality, but Wangmu destroys it. She gives Lin a chance to escape with Stick, but Lin cannot bring herself to leave the Monkey King behind with Wangmu when she hears him screaming in pain.
Stick had some of the Elixir of Immortality stored inside it, and Lin gives it to the Monkey King, who consumes it and becomes immortal. That is not enough for the Monkey King. He is now going to fight the other immortals.
However, he gives up on that idea to save Lin’s life, which shows Lin that he cares about her. Lin then tries to teach him that defeating everyone is not going to help him and tries to ask him to lend Stick to help her village, but the Monkey King dismisses her.
When Lin tells him that her scroll read that she will try but never make a difference, the Monkey King advises her to not let anyone stand in her way and take what she wants. Lin takes his advice and decides to take Stick to save her village.
She gives him a challenge that would require him to leave Stick with her. Lin finally gets Stick and gives it to the Dragon King reluctantly. When the Monkey King returns, he realizes that he has been betrayed. Furthermore, Lin finds out that the Dragon King is not going to save her people.
The Dragon King plans to use Stick to bring a storm that would wipe out all land and, with it, the people who live on it. Infuriated and upset, the Monkey King refuses Lin’s help to defeat the Dragon King and goes to fight him alone.
The Monkey King ending explained in detail:
Does the Money King defeat the Dragon King?
The Dragon King is about to destroy the world, but the Monkey King comes to fight him to get Stick back. Although the Monkey King is still angry with Lin, she decides to help him to show him that he is not alone.
This time, she tricks the Dragon King. She tells him that lightning is the Money King’s weakness when it in fact makes the Monkey King strong. The Dragon King hits the Monkey King with lightning, and the Monkey King becomes strong enough to get Stick back.
Now that he has Stick with him, the Monkey King easily defeats the Dragon King, much to everyone’s delight. However, their relief does not last long.
How does Lin stop the Monkey King?
After the Dragon King’s defeat, the Monkey King becomes uncontrollable. He now wants to fight all immortals. As he destroys the Jade Palace, the Jade Emperor decides not to turn a blind eye to his actions anymore.
The Jade Emperor, Yama, and Wangmu attack the Monkey King, but the three of them do not stand a chance. Finally, the Buddha has to intervene to stop the Monkey King, and Lin tries to convince the Buddha that the Monkey King is not evil.
The Buddha asks Lin to help the Monkey King find his way and allows her to speak to him through him. It is Lin who talks, but the Monkey King thinks that it is the Buddha. To make him understand that he is not the center of the universe, Lin challenges the Monkey King to leap from the Buddha’s palm.
If the Monkey King succeeds, he will rule Heaven, but if he fails, he will have to do penance on Earth. The Monkey King does not just leave the Buddha’s hand but Earth as well. He leaves his mark somewhere far away in the universe.
However, when he returns, he sees the mark on the Buddha’s palm and realizes that everything lies in the Buddha’s hands. The Buddha then declares that the Monkey King is now on the path of meditation and self-reflection.
The Monkey King is trapped in a mountain of rocks by the Buddha, who tells him that he will find his way when he will awake to nothingness. The Buddha also tells Lin that the Monkey King’s scroll is yet to be written and that when he is ready, the world will need him.
Does the Monkey King find his way?
After saving everyone, Lin becomes a hero. However, she still has to make amends with the Monkey King. Before the Buddha closes up the Monkey King’s mountain, Lin goes to say goodbye to him.
The Monkey King acknowledges his mistakes. Lin tells him that he changed her life and that she is his number one fan. Similarly, the Monkey King tells her that she did make a huge difference. Lin then gives him Stick, and he thanks her for everything.
Lin and the Monkey King part ways on good terms, and the Buddha closes up the mountain. As she had promised the Monkey King, Lin goes on to do great things.
On the other hand, the Monkey King comes out of the mountain 500 years later. When demons wreak havoc across the land, the Buddha sends a few men to release the Monkey King, who is too eager to fight the demons and save the world.