Netflix to work its magic on 'Monkey' remake

The cult Japanese TV show, redubbed for English audiences, was a cult hit in the 1980s

Netflix to work its magic on 'Monkey' remake

Masaaki Sakai as the titular character in 'Monkey' [WikiCommons]

Fans of the TV show Monkey, a cult classic that won over viewers all over the world in the 1980s, will have mixed feelings with the news that Netflix is behind a remake of the series.

The show, a Japanese live-action fantasy series, became popular with a generation of young viewers who tuned in after school, enthralled by the high-kicking fight scenes and the over-the-top performances.

Despite its convoluted plot, ropey special effects and appalling dubbing – with English actors Andrew Sachs and Miriam Margolyes hamming it up with infamously bad and potentially offensive accents – the show quickly built a huge fanbase.

Monkey starred Masaaki Sakai as the eponymous lead, “born from an egg on a mountain top,” and leader of the monkey tribe. Joined by other larger than life characters, including Pigsy the gluttonous pig monster, the group battles demons, monsters, and bandits, learning lessons based on Buddhist and Taoist philosophy.

Along the way, Monkey famously called upon clouds to transport him around, as well as using a number of supernatural skills, including the ability to shrink himself to a miniature size.

While 52 episodes were produced in Japan in the late 1970s, only 39 of the original run were broadcast on the BBC. But the dubbing cast was reunited in 2004 to complete the remaining episodes for broadcast on Channel 4, after the success of sales of the show on DVD boxset.

Netflix is now working with the national broadcasters of both Australia (ABC) and New Zealand (TVNZ) to reboot the series as The Legend of Monkey. The show will see Monkey, Pigsy and Sandy, a reformed cannibal, joined by a plucky teenage sidekick.

Currently filming in New Zealand, news of the Netflix-backed reboot has attracted a mixed reaction after a photo of the principal cast revealed only one actor of Asian origins had been cast.

The cast of the forthcoming The Legend of Monkey [IMDb]

The Legend of Monkey’s first season, made up of 10 half-hour episodes, will stream on Netflix around the world early in 2018.

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