Supernatural beings repeatedly attack the heroes of “The Monkey King 3,” but love, not war, is the principal threat in this CGI-heavy Chinese adventure. Pious monk Xuanzang (William Feng) is traveling to the fabled West to retrieve essential Buddhist scriptures when he encounters an elkriding queen (Zanilia Zhao) who’s never seen a man before. She falls for him, and Xuanzang is tempted as well, although his calling is to love all creation, not just a single, doe-eyed beauty.
Xuanzang is the central character, as he is in the movie’s source, “Journey to the West,” a much-adapted 16th-century novel. But when there’s fighting to be done, director Soi Cheang shifts his focus to the monk’s playful companion, man-monkey Wukong (Aaron Kwok). Also on the quest are blue-skinned Wujing (Him Law) and pig-faced Bajie (Xiaoshenyang). All four are male, which is a problem after they follow the queen to her home, the Womanland, where, as we are told, “being a man is a capital offense.” Escaping execution at the hands of the queen’s dogmatic enforcer (Gigi Leung) becomes foremost on the pilgrims’ agenda.
Wukong and his pals tangle with giant scorpions and a lovelorn river god (Lin Chi-ling) who can take the form of a dragon-whale. But much of “The Monkey King 3” is devoted to philosophical musing and romantic mooning, the latter cued to a drippy ballad. Viewers who aren’t in the mood for star-crossed love will prefer the slapstick and earthy humor, including a sequence in which three of the guys get pregnant. It’s another fine mess the resourceful monkey king has to rescue his comrades from.
Unrated. At the AMC Loews Rio Cinemas 18. Contains cartoonish violence and a subplot about abortion. In Mandarin with subtitles. 116 minutes.