In the Chinese mythology, there are eight Taoist immortals or deities. The exact years in which these immortals lived cannot be ascertained but it is generally accepted that they are active during the Tang or Sung Dynasty.

Each of the immortals has a certain special power and magical talisman which allows them to help the poor and needy, and to defeat the evil forces.

Legend has it that the eight immortals lived on the Penglai Island (蓬莱仙).

Li Tieguai (Iron-Crutch) (铁拐李)

Li's original name was Li Xuan (李玄).

He was once a very handsome man. He gained enlightenment under the guidance of the founder of Taoism (太上老君).

He often sat in meditation and his spirit would leave his body to travel to the heaven. On day, he told his disciple his spirit would leave his body for seven days and the disciple should guard it during the time. However, on the sixth day, the disciple got news that his mother was sick and he needed to go home fast. In a hurry, he cremated his master's body. When Li's spirit returned, he couldn't find his body. The only body available nearby at that time was the corpse of a beggar with a lame leg. He entered into the corpse and that is the reason why instead of his original handsome appearance, he has the loathsome shape of a cripple.

Han Chongli (钟离权)

Han Chongli, also known as Zhongli Quan (汉钟离) because he was born in the Han Dynasty, was a general in the Han Dynasty. His birth was accompanied by a strange phenomena in the shape of rays of light, scores of feet in length, whereat all those in attendance were much amazed.

As a general, he was sent on an expedition against the enemy in the North. He lost the war and became a fugitive riding alone through wild and mountainous country. On his journey he met an old man at a village who taught him an infallible magic process for attaining longevity, knowledge of divine elixirs and the Green Dragon Swordsmanship.

Zhongli Quan later retired to Mount Kongtong and took up his abode on the Red-gold Peak. There he found a jade casket containing the arcana of Taoism, and, having attained immortality, departed this world.

Chang Guolao (张果老)

Elder Zhang Guo was a hermit who lived in the Zhongtiao Mountain (中条山). 

He often rode on a white donkey and traveled thousands of miles a day. Whenever he stopped to rest, he would fold his donkey up like a piece of paper and slipped it into his box. When he wished to ride again, he would spew water over it, and transformed it back into a donkey. Empress Wu once summoned him to the palace but he refused and feigned death.

One day, the Emperor bestowed him some wine, but he declined, saying he can only drink two pints but has a disciple who can manage ten. The disciple was summoned. Suddenly, a young Taoist priest aged about 15 flew down from the roof of the palace. The Emperor ordered him to be seated, but Elder Zhang Guo protested, "My disciple should remain standing while in attendance upon Your Majesty." The Emperor was pleased and presented some wine to the disciple, who managed to drink ten pints of it. Elder Zhang Guo stopped the Emperor, explaining that more wine would exceed the disciple's limit. However, the Emperor insisted upon presenting more wine. As a result, wine swelled to the top of the young Taoist's head and gushed out, dislodging his cap, which fell to the ground. Instantly he vanished and transformed into a golden wine-cup. The Emperor and the imperial concubines were amazed to see this. Upon inspection it transpired that the cup belonged to the palace and was capable of holding exactly ten pints of wine. Elder Zhang Guo was treated with great honor and conferred the title Master of Taoist Mysteries.

Han Chiangzi (韩湘子)

Philosopher Han Chiangzi, popularly known as Han Xiang was the nephew of Han Yu, a prominent poet and statesman of the Tang dynasty. He studied Taoism under Lu Dongbin (吕洞宾). Once at a banquet by Han Yu, Han Xiangzi tried to persuade Han Yu to renounce his political career and pursue Tao. Han Yu, however suggested that Han Xiangzi should renounce Tao and pursue a political
career. In order to convince Han Yu, Han Xiangzi performed a few miracles. He filled an empty goblet with excellent wine using the power of Tao. He also caused flowers to spring up from a heap of earth and bloom in the twinkling of an eye. In the mist of the flowers was a couplet which said: "Lost on the far Qing Mountains, I cannot find my way; Snowdrifts cover the Lan Pass and my horse can do no more."

Not long afterwards, Han Yu was banished to a minor post in Chaozhou over his opposition to the Emperor's enthusiasm over the Buddha's bone. On his way to Chaozhou, Han Yu was stranded by a snowstorm. All of a sudden, Han Xiangzi appeared. Han Yu inquired what the name of the place was, and was told "the Lan Pass". Han Yu was astonished by the accuracy of Han Xiangzi's previous prediction. That night they both stayed at an inn beside the Pass. Knowing that Han Yu was dispirited, Han Xiangzi cheered him up by saying, "You will soon be back again, not only in good health, but also reinstated in your former office." All of these prediction later came true.

Ho Chiangu (何仙姑)

Female Immortal Ho or Ho Chiangu is the one of female immortals of the Eight Immortals. She was born in the town of Zeng Cheng of Guangdong province as the daughter of He Tai (何泰).

At the age of 14, a deity appeared to her in a dream and taught her to consume powdered mica so that she can become an immortal. She took the powder as instructed and vowed never to marry. She often wandered in the valleys and walked very fast as if flying. Gradually she gave up taking ordinary food. Finally, she ascended to Heaven in broad daylight and became an immortal.

Lan Tsaiho (蓝采和)

Han Chiangzi was a hermit in the Tang Dynasty. He wore a ragged gown, with one foot in a boot and the other bare. In summer he had his gown padded with cotton-wool, and in the winter he used to sleep on the snow, and vapour of steam would arose from his body. He wandered through the country begging and singing to the rhythm of his castanets. In a half-crazy way he sang songs which were related to immortality, and were therefore unintelligible to ordinary mortals. One day, while in a tavern, sound of reed-organ and flute was heard. Lan Caihe suddenly rose to the clouds, dropped down his shoe, gown, belt and castanets, and gradually passed out of sight.

Lü Dong-bin (吕洞宾)

Lü Dong-bin was the most famous and most mentioned of the eight immortals. At the time of birth, a divine fragrance pervaded the house. As a child, he was intelligent and could memorize thousands of lines a day. At the age of 20, he was
still without a wife. He took the imperial examination twice but failed.

One day, while in a tavern in Chang'an (长安), he met Zhongli Quan. While the latter was cooking a pot of yellow millet, Lu Dongbin reclined on his pillow and fell asleep. He dreamt he took the imperial examination and excelled. He became a government official and eventually rose to the position of prime minister. He was married twice, and both wives belonged to families of wealth and position. Children were born to him. However, his success attracted the jealousy of others who accused him of a grave crime. All his possessions were confiscated, and his wife and children separated. He became a solitary outcast. At this moment he woke up to find that the yellow millet was still being prepared! He came to a sudden realization of the impermanence of fame, glory and wealth. As a result, he went with Zhongli Quan to cultivate the Tao.

Ts’ao Guojiu (曹国舅)

Ts’ao Guojiu was the younger brother of the mother of one of the Song Emperors. He had a younger brother who murdered people but no one
dared to prosecute him because of his imperial connections. Cao Guojiu was so ashamed of his brother that he left home and sought solitude in the mountain cavern. He wore rustic clothes and fasted for days at a time. One day he met the immortals Zhongli Quan and Lü Dong-bin, who taught him the Taoist secrets. Not long afterwards, he joined the rank of the immortals.

Taoism is a philosophy or way of life that may have been started by a man named Lao Tsu (or Lao Tzu) who lived a little before Confucius, about 600 BC. Tao means the "way" or the "path". According to the traditional story, Lao Tsu worked as a librarian in the emperor's library.

Lao Tsu believed that the way to happiness was for people to learn to "go with the flow." Instead of trying to get things done the hard way, people should take the time to figure out the natural, or easy way to do things, and then everything would get done more simply. This idea is called "wu wei", which means "doing by not doing". Lao Tsu also thought that everything alive in the universe (plants, animals, people) shared in a universal life-force. There were two sides to the life-force, which are called the yin and the yang. This picture is often used to show how the yin and the yang are intertwined with each other.

The yin (the dark side) is the side of women, the moon, things that are still like ponds, and completion and death. The yang (the light side) is the side of men, the sun, things that move like rivers, dragons, and creation and birth. Everyone has some yin and some yang in them, and Taoism says that it is important to keep them balanced. Chinese doctors believed that a lot of illnesses were caused by too much yin or too much yang. Because everything has this life force in it, Lao Tsu thought it was wrong for people to fight each other in wars, killing the life force, and people should be sad when they had to fight, instead of celebrating their victories.

He also thought it was wrong for governments (or anybody else) to make a lot of rules and laws about how people should behave. Taoism was against anything with rules, like special food diets. He thought people should make their own decisions in each situation. Lao Tzu (or someone else pretending to be Lao Tzu) wrote down his ideas in a book called the Tao Te Ching, which is still read and studied to this day.

In this film, which is based loosely on the ancient Chinese novel Journey to the West, South Boston teenager Jason Tripitikas is a fan of martial arts films and he awakens from a dream of a battle between the Monkey King (Jet Li) and celestial soldiers in the clouds. He visits a pawn shop in Chinatown to buy Wuxia DVDs and discovers a golden staff. On his way home, Jason is harassed by some hooligans, whose leader Lupo attempts to use him to help them rob the shop-owner Hop. Hop tries to fight the thieves with the staff, but is shot and wounded by Lupo. He tells Jason to deliver the staff to its rightful owner and Jason flees with the staff. He is cornered on the rooftop by the hooligans and almost shot too, but he is pulled off the roof by the staff and falls backwards onto the asphalt.

When Jason regains consciousness, he finds himself in a village in ancient China that is under attack by armored soldiers. The soldiers see his staff and attempt to seize it. He is saved by the inebriated traveling scholar Lu Yan (Jackie Chan), a supposed "immortal," who remains alert and agile even when drunk. Lu brings Jason to a teahouse and tells him the story of the rivalry between the Monkey King and the Jade Warlord. The Jade Warlord tricked the Monkey King into setting aside his magic staff Ruyi Jingu Bang and transformed him into a stone statue, but the Monkey King cast his staff far away before the transformation. Being an immortal, the Monkey King did not die, but got captured inside the statue. Lu ends the tale with a prophecy about someone, a "Seeker", who will find the staff and free the Monkey King. Just then, they are attacked by the Jade Warlord's men again but manage to escape with the help of Golden Sparrow, a young girl who refers to herself in the third person. She reveals that her family was murdered by the Jade Warlord, against whom she has therefore sworn revenge.

Meanwhile, the Jade Warlord (Collin Chou), upon learning that the staff has been sighted, sends the White-Haired Witch Ni-Chang to help him retrieve it in exchange for the elixir of immortality. Jason, Lu Yan and Golden Sparrow meet a strange man dressed in white, also played by Jet Li, who takes the staff away from them. Lu Yan fights with the man (later revealed to be the Silent Monk) for the staff until the latter realizes that Jason is the prophesied Seeker, and he joins them in their quest to free the Monkey King. As the four travel to Five Elements Mountain, Lu Yan and the Silent Monk teach Jason Kungfu along the way. After crossing a desert, they encounter Ni-Chang and her henchmen and a battle ensues, in which Lu Yan is mortally wounded by Ni-Chang's arrow. The protagonists take refuge in a monastery, where they learn that Lu is actually not an immortal as he failed the test to become one. Only the Jade Warlord's elixir can save his life. In desperation, Jason goes to the Warlord's palace alone to exchange the staff for the elixir.

In the palace, the Jade Warlord asks
Jason to fight with Ni-Chang to the death, because he had promised to give the elixir to only one of them. Jason is defeated by Ni-Chang and the Warlord taunts him for his foolishness, and is about to decapitate him when the other protagonists and monks from the monastery arrive to join in the battle. Jason manages to grab the elixir and he tosses it to Lu Yan, who drinks it and recovers. The Silent Monk is wounded by the Jade Warlord's Guan Dao during the fight and he passes the staff to Jason, who uses it to smash the Monkey King's statue. The Monkey King is freed and the Silent Monk is revealed to be actually one of the Monkey's clones. Lu Yan battles Ni-Chang and kills her by throwing her off the cliff hundreds of feet below. After another long battle between the Monkey King and the Jade Warlord, the Warlord is eventually stabbed by Jason and falls into a lava pit to his death.
However, Golden Sparrow has been seriously injured by the Warlord and she dies in Jason's arms, thanking him in the first person before dying. By then, the Jade Emperor has returned from his meditation and he praises Jason for fulfilling the prophecy and allows him for one wish, which he asked is to return home.

Jason finds himself back in 21st century Boston after passing through a magical portal at the exact moment and location of his earlier fall. He defeats Lupo easily by using the Kungfu moves he was taught and drives the other hooligans away. He alerts the police and calls an ambulance for Hop, who survives from the gunshot wound and brushes off Jason's concerns, claiming that he is immortal. (hinting that he is actually Lu Yan; a fact which also would have been hinted by the name of the pawn shop as seen in the beginning: "Lu Yan's Pawn Shop"). Before the film ends, Jason is delighted to see a girl who resembles Golden Sparrow and speaks to her briefly, before she heads back to her shop, called "Golden Sparrow Chinese Merchandise". The final scene shows Jason on a rooftop at night practicing his staffwork and continuing to hone his kung fu skills.

The Eight Taoist Immortals
The Forbidden Kingdom