Review: Legend of the Demon Cat (Kûkai)

Title: Legend of the Demon Cat (Kûkai)
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated
Director: Kaige Chen
Starring: Xuan Huang, Shôta Sometani, Yuqi Zhang
Runtime: 2 hr 9 mins

What It Is: During the Tang Dynasty in China the emperor has fallen. But what killed him? Well, it seems to have been a demon cat. Strange events have begun to occur that’s lead to the arrival of a monk named Kûkai. Kûkai looks into what is happening and with the help of the (now ousted) Imperial Poet Bai Letian they look to find that demon cat and figure out the why of the crime.

What We Think: So this is an absolutely stunning looking film. Director Kaige Chen builds this world into something like you’ve never seen. Full of color and life whenever there’s a flashback there’s just so much beauty. When we speak of a narrative there is one here for sure and it plays out almost like an Agatha Christie novel with our more venerable monk Kûkai playing the role of Hercule Poirot. Much like the Belgian sleuth, the monk’s powers of perceptions guide us to our rather unexpected ending. I won’t go into the specifics but needless to say, I loved how everything played out.

Our Grade: B-, If you can find this film in a theatre you’re in for an experience, to say the least. I recommend this be seen on the largest screen possible. Not only is this one that looks tremendous but the mystery all makes sense and will have you engrossed throughout. Find it in a theater near you. I can promise that you’ll love the spectacle of it all. Check out his 1993 feature Farewell My Concubine which was BAFTA-winning and Oscar-nominated. It is likewise a gorgeous feature that is necessary for anyone trying to understand Chinese and Hong Kong cinema outside of Wan Kar Wai and John Woo.

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