The Monkey King: Release date, trailer, cast, plot & more

Daisy Phillipson
Still from The Monkey King on Netflix

Here’s everything we know about The Monkey King, Netflix’s upcoming animated family movie based on a legendary Chinese tale, including its release date, trailer, cast, plot, and more. 

There’s nothing like a movie that honors folklore and historical tales, from Mulan and Coco to The Little Mermaid and Hansel and Gretel.

Netflix contributed to the genre with its recently released Chupa, an ET-esque family adventure flick based on the legend of the chupacabra.

And now hype is building for The Monkey King, a film inspired by what is regarded as one of the greatest Classic Chinese Novels. Ahead of its release, here’s everything you need to know about the movie. 


The Monkey King release date: When is it out on Netflix?

The Monkey King drops on Netflix on August 18, 2023.

The film was first announced by its primary animation house, Pearl Studio, in 2017, before becoming attached to Netflix in 2021. 

Is there a The Monkey King trailer?

Yes, Netflix dropped the trailer for The Monkey King on July 17. You can watch it below: 

The trailer promises plenty of humor, plenty of action, and plenty of incredible, colorful animated visuals as we learn more about Monkey and his quest to fight demons, while meeting some friends along the way. 

The Monkey King voice cast: Who is in it?

The voice cast for The Monkey King includes: 

  • Jimmy O. Yang as Monkey King
  • Jolie Hoang-Rappaport as Lin
  • Nan Li as Stick
  • Bowen Yang as Dragon King
  • Jo Koy as Benbo
  • Ron Yuan as Babbo
  • Hoon Lee as Jade Emperor
  • BD Wong as Buddha
  • Andrew Kishino as Demon of Havoc & King Yama
  • Sophie Wu as Red Girl
  • Jodi Long as Wangmu
  • James Sie as Elder Monkey
  • Andrew Pang as Mayor
  • Stephanie Hsu as Mayor’s Wife
  • Kuno Inghram as Mayor’s Son

Comedian and actor Jimmy O. Yang
Comedian and actor Jimmy O. Yang voices The Monkey King

As for the crew, The Monkey King is directed by The Boxtrolls co-director Anthony Stacchi, while Abominable’s Peilin Chou is producer and Shaolin Soccer’s Stephen Chow is executive producer. Ron J. Friedman, Stephen Bencich, and Rita Hsiao wrote the script. 

The Monkey King plot: What is the Netflix movie about?

As per the official synopsis: The Monkey King is an action-packed family comedy that follows a charismatic Monkey and his magical fighting Stick on an epic quest for victory over 100 demons, an eccentric Dragon King, and Monkey’s greatest foe of all – his own ego!” 

It goes on to say: “Along the way, a young village girl challenges his self-centered attitude and shows him that even the smallest pebble can have a big effect on the world.”

In a press release, the crew behind The Monkey King explained: “Brace yourself to meet the legendary Monkey King, the original super-hero. He’s bigger and bolder than any of the Gods or Demons or Dragons of ancient China. Go ahead, just ask him, he’d be the first to tell you, thanks to his colossal ego! 

Still from The Monkey King on Netflix

“Our playful but pompous Monkey King leaps out of the centuries-old novel Journey to the West and lights up the screen in this ‘lost chapter’ story with a powerful blend of comedy and kung fu action inspired by the modern master of Chinese cinema Stephen Chow, in partnership with Netflix.

“The Monkey King is presented in an animation style that echoes the texture and dynamics of Chinese brush painting, with artistic influences from the Qin and Tang dynasties, that together make an elegant backdrop for a grand scale kung fu battle with a demon (or a hundred of them!)”

But the team went on to say that it is more than just a visually appealing family flick, as it features everything “from the infinite wisdom of Buddha to the ripple of the tiniest pebble,” immersing viewers in “a universe full of emotion, humor, and unexpected twists.”

What is The Monkey King based on?

The Monkey King is inspired by a part of Journey to the West, a classic 16th-century Chinese novel written by Wu Cheng’en, a scholar and writer of the Ming Dynasty. It’s widely regarded as one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature.

The story narrates the adventures of the Buddhist monk Xuanzang and his three disciples – the monkey king Sun Wukong, the gluttonous Pigsy, and the river spirit Sandy – as they travel to India to retrieve sacred texts.

Speaking about adapting the tale for a modern audience while still honoring the folklore, producer Peilin Chou said: “We wanted The Monkey King to be both relatable for the globe, but also new and cool for Chinese audiences that had seen dozens of films and television series about this character in the past. 

Still from The Monkey King on Netflix

“We achieved that on a few levels, first with portraying Stick as an anthropomorphic character, which to my knowledge had never been done before and just felt like a no-brainer to me for animation.

“Another angle was the invention and inclusion of Lin, as she is not in the original legend and completely imagined for our film. We approached this story as a lost chapter in Journey to the West wherein Monkey King meets Lin and he loses Stick. It’s all grounded in the authenticity of the original novel, but we treat it like a little side adventure that you never knew happened, until now.”

That’s everything we know about The Monkey King, which drops on Netflix on August 18. In the meantime, you can check out some of our other Netflix hubs below: 

The Night Agent Season 2 | The Gentlemen | Sex Education Season 4 | Beef Season 2 | Monster Season 2 | Will there be Ginny and Georgia Season 3? | All the Light We Cannot See | Stranger Things Season 5 | Chicken Run 2 | Heartstopper Season 2 | Florida Man Season 2 | Obsession Season 2 | The Sandman Season 2

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