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The Forbidden Kingdom chinese movie review
The Forbidden Kingdom
3 people found this review helpful
by The Butterfly
Mar 3, 2023
Overall 7.5
Story 7.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 6.0
This review may contain spoilers

Two tigers cannot live on the same mountain!

Jackie Chan and Jet Li finally had the chance to team up in 2008's The Forbidden Kingdom. The movie felt like a mixture of Journey to the West and The Wizard of Oz making for an uneven story and one that won't hold many surprises for anyone. There were shout outs to old kung fu movies which will be fun for fans, but a bland American in a fish out of water trope may be more taxing to deal with.

Jason Tripitikas (JTTW reference) is a teenager obsessed with old kung fu movies. He frequents Old Hop's (Jackie Chan) shop to buy bootlegged movies like early Shaw Brothers films. One night during a robbery a wounded Old Hop gives him a staff and tells him he has to return it to its owner. Soon Jason is transported back to China in ye olden times. He meets up with drunken beggar Lu Yan (Chan again) and soon he, Lu, and Sparrow (Crystal Liu-her character named after Cheng Pei Pei's famous Come Drink with Me character who also appeared in other Shaw movies, the Golden Sparrow) are being chased by the Jade Warlord's thugs who want the staff, which it turns out belongs to the rock encased Monkey King. Along the way they pick up a monk (Jet Li-who played a lot of Shaolin monks early in his career) and head for the Five Elements Mountain to return the staff to the Monkey King.

Jason is completely inadequate in a fight so Lu and the monk begin to teach him kung fu like two tigers on a mountain. Before you can say "wax on, wax off", Jason is proficient enough to hold his own in a fight. Li Bing Bing plays a White Haired Witch looking to snag the staff so that she can obtain the immortal elixir from the Jade Warlord (Collin Chou in a delightfully campy performance). The movie follows a formula right to the end, even for the female warriors, much to my chagrin.

The cinematography and scenery were gorgeous. Yuen Woo Ping who has choreographed fights for both Jet and Jackie amongst a plethora of other films made the best use of two aging action stars. There were also some humorous fights using the young disciple. The fights incorporated wire-fu and CGI given the characters' super kung fu powers which wasn't unexpected in a kingdom with magical beings. The fight between Jet and Jackie was entertaining and felt like two skilled friends fighting. Jet as the Monkey King was the most relaxed and genuinely playful I've ever seen him.

Due to Jason having to deal with humiliations and set-backs, he didn't come across like a white savior--too much. Jet, Jackie, and the other Asian actors were the people who were proficient and confident and somehow magically speaking English in ye olden times as well as Mandarin. I would have preferred a slightly different ending to the final fight but this was a story to appeal to teenage males. And of course, Jason learned his valuable lessons and took them home to deal with his problems there.

The Forbidden Kingdom could be cheesy and predictable, but is worth watching if you like the stars and want to watch Jet Li and Jackie Chan fight each other and a whole army of people. The fish out of water trope wasn't too annoying and gave the film a message about global friendship and cooperation to solve dangerous problems, something we really need right now in the world.


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