Any film that couples Jackie Chan and Jet Li is going to be worth watching isn’t it? And there’s an intriguing hook in The Forbidden Kingdom as Jason, a modern day American teenager who is obsessed with Kung Fu movies is transported back in time to meet his legends and finds that he is charged with returning an ancient and mystical staff to its rightful owner. Naturally, this will involve an awful lot of very high speed kicking so he is trained in the martial arts which you just know is going to come in handy when he returns to school to face his bullies. Together with his compatriots, Jason travels to the Five Elements mountain to free the monkey king and end the rule of the Jade Warlord.
Stirring stuff and blended to perfection. The Forbidden Kingdom is almost a distillation of the best moments of every kung fu movie you have ever seen with a post Tarantino influence. The fights, of which there are many are simply beautiful and for once, not too over the top with wire work being kept to a minimum and used subtly. The cast are as excellent as you would expect and it’s a joy to see Jet Li for once playing a good guy, while the on screen paring of he and Jackie Chan is one fans have been waiting to see for years.
The Forbidden Kingdom is a definite fantasy movie with very little attention being paid to historical accuracy and is all the better for it, this is a high action very visual film which paints its world in broad strokes rather than intimate detail. In a way it harks back to the great sword and sorcery epics of the 1980s, a genre that is surely due for a revival. It’s also a standard coming of age journey for Jason, mythically right but it seems strange to cast Chan and Li and then make them secondary characters to Jason. Still, that doesn’t matter, what does is that there is plenty of action and all of it fantastic. As a movie, this is nothing new, a greatest hits of the genre but if that is all that it is, it does it extremely well and is highly recommended. Sit back and let the action begin!
Director: Rob Minkoff
Casts: Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Michael Angarano, Yifei Liu, Collin Chou, Juana Collignon, Morgan Benoit, Bingbing Li
Language: English, Mandarin
Country: USA, China