WL and I watched Forbidden Kingdom on the opening night. Forbidden Kingdom is the first movie collaboration between kung fu superstars Jackie Chan and Jet Li. I went to the cinema without doing any prior research or watching any of the trailers. My only thought was, Jackie Chan plus Jet Li must be good. I was in fact expecting the movie Forbidden Kingdom to be in mandarin. Boy was I surprised.
Turns out, the movie is a Hollywood production made for the English speaking community with some mandarin dialog thrown in. When the movie started, WL was asking me if we were watching the right screening but the names Jackie Chan and Jet Li flashing across the screen put those fears to rest. However, when the camera zoomed in on this american dude, we were starting to wonder again. What the heck was a guai lou/gai jin/ang mo doing in the movie? I guess that’s what the synopsis is for.
Forbidden Kingdom Synopsis
While hunting down bootleg kung-fu DVDs in a Chinatown pawnshop, Jason (Michael Angarano) makes an extraordinary discovery that sends him hurtling back in time to ancient China. There, Jason is charged with a monumental task: he must free the fabled warrior the Monkey King, who has been imprisoned by the evil Jade Warlord (Collin Chou). Jason is joined in his quest by wise kung fu master Lu Yan (Jackie Chan) and a band of misfit warriors including Silent Monk (Jet Li). But only by learning the true precepts of kung fu can Jason hope to succeed - and find a way to get back home.
- Taken from the Forbidden Kingdom Movie website -
The plot is loosely based around the legend of the Sun Wukong the Monkey King but deviates from the classic tale of Journey to the West. Quite frankly, the whole point of the movie is to showcase both Jackie Chan and Jet Li’s kungfu. Not that I’m complaining.
It was incredibly fun and nostalgic to see many of their old styles all in one action packed movie. Among others, Jackie Chan showed us kung fu stances such as drunken fist (Jui Kuen [Drunken Master 1/2] - 1978), tiger, crane, a little bit of snake (Snake In Eagle’s Shadow - 1982), all wrapped up in his classic comedic style. Jet Li on the other hand displayed his classic Tai Chi style (The Tai Chi Master - 1993), mantis, and monkey (obviously since he plays also the Monkey King).
Those who have been dying to see a match up between Jackie Chan and Jet Li will not be disappointed. The two masters sparred with each other in a very extensive fight that lasted at least five minutes and saw many of the styles above. As I watched them fly across the big screen, I was reminded of all their old kung fu movies I’ve watched as a kid. The result? I’m not spoiling it for you. You’ll just have to watch to see who comes out the victor.
Through out the movie, there were points where I laughed so hard that WL had to slap her hand over my mouth to keep me quiet. Classic moments include the first meeting between Jason and Lu Yan, and the scene where Lu Yan calls for rain as the band of adventurers pass through the desert. I nearly fell off my seat during that sequence.
In terms of eye candy, there’s plenty. Filmed on site in China, the rolling sceneries and backdrops are breathtaking. Meanwhile, in the foreground, Liu Yifei (Golden Sparrow) and Li Bingbing (Ni Chang the White Haired Assassin) provided some nice distractions from the action. After all, what Jackie Chan movie is ever complete without a hot looking chick or two.
The movie is relatively short, about 90 minutes total screen time. We waited through the credits hoping to catch more kung fu and some “the making” bloopers but there was none.
Overall, Forbidden Kingdom was very entertaining. I definitely recommend this movie to everyone. If you are a Jackie Chan, Jet Li, or kung fu fan, then this is a must watch. If they are to do a second chapter or collaboration, I would be at the cinemas in a heartbeat.