- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 15, 2014

HONG KONG (AP) - Aaron Kwok says he was drawn to his part as the Bull Demon King in the upcoming Hong Kong-Chinese 3-D fantasy film “The Monkey King” by the chance to play a villain.

The veteran Hong Kong singer, dancer and actor has grown used to being the dashing leading man, playing such roles as a detective or a lawyer, but said he hasn’t played a villain in more than a decade. While other actors who have played the Bull Demon King have given the character an evil and ruthless disposition, Kwok says his interpretation gives the audience a glimpse at the softer side of the villain.

“He wants to take care of his wife and wants them to have a better life,” the 48-year-old star said. “Also, the people in his clan, the evil clan, he wants them to have a better life too.”

“The Monkey King” is based on the classic Chinese mythical tale “Journey to the West,” in which the Monkey King follows a Buddhist monk to retrieve a sacred Buddhist text. The movie begins with the birth of the Monkey King, played by kung fu star Donnie Yen, and shows his rebellion against the Jade Emperor (played by Chow Yun-fat). Kwok’s Bull Demon King tries to lure the Monkey King into an alliance and attempts to seize control of the heaven kingdom.

Unlike Yen, who had to sit through hours of makeup to transform himself into the Monkey King and is barely recognizable at the end, director Cheang Pou-soi and the producers wanted to keep Kwok’s good looks in their version of the Bull Demon King.

Regardless, Kwok says the character is still the bad guy, and he hopes to get a reaction from the audience.

“They will want to hit him,” he said. “They will want to kill me. I hope I can (get this reaction), because he is still a villain, after all.”

“The Monkey King” is scheduled for release in Hong Kong on Jan. 30 and mainland China on Jan. 31.

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