The Monkey King
The Monkey King's poster Global Star Production

Much like its role in the wider world, China is becoming an increasingly more powerful figure in the film industry. Many recent big budget Hollywood blockbusters have gone out of their way to appeal to the enormous Asian market – among them Iron Man 3 and Pacific Rim.

Chinas' actual filmmaking industry however isn't quite as huge, but this year it comes one step closer with the release of The Monkey King – the country's most expensive movie ever.

Lavish special effects and 3D are being used to re-tell the ancient Chinese story, Journey to the West. It hits Chinese cinemas on 31 January and is being hyped as the country's biggest film venture ever. As an added bonus it also looks absolutely bonkers.

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Star Donnie Yen – who Western audiences might remember from Hero and Blade II has said: "It was my dream when I was very young to become the Monkey King, Sun Wukong.

"I'm so happy my dream has come true and I'm proud to be a part of this project. This film is stunning when it is shown on IMAX screens and is very suitable for all ages; you can bring your children to see it, and I will be bringing mine."

Its budget is small compared to most Hollywood blockbusters of a similar scale, at 500 million yuan (£50 million), but its ambitions are clearly big. The film – called Havoc in Heaven in China – follows the first few chapters of Journey to the West and follows its title character to become immortal and rebel against the Jade Emperor of Heaven.

It also stars Chow Yun-fat, arguably the most famous Chinese actor – who became a global star thanks to roles in John Woo's Hard Boiled and Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Speaking of Yen, Yun-fat wonderfully called him "the most powerful Monkey King in the universe".

The creative team behind the film see their leading monkey man as an oriental superhero capable of competing with the American-born Batmans and Spider-Mans of the world – but that said its aims are staying within China for now.

Studio Filmko is predicting a take of 1 billion yaun (£100 million) from its release in Asian markets.

The film premiered Sunday on 19 January and will be released to coincide with the Chinese New Year, and is chalked in for an American release in September.