REVIEW: THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM
While hunting down bootleg kung-fu DVDs in a Chinatown
pawnshop, Jason Tripitikas (Michael Angarano - "24", "Will
and Grace," LORDS OF DOGTOWN, SEABISCUIT) 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 powerful Jade War Lord. 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.
Kung Fu fans unite! This one is for you. For the first time
ever, Jackie Chan and Jet Li co-star in a legend filled,
mythological fight fest that wonít let you down. Throw in
some beautiful, hard fighting vixens, a ruthless villain and
his army, and a humble kid slash kung fu fanatic who is
thrust into the conflict and you have the formula for a nice
storyline with a mystical legend as its backdrop as is
customary for this genre. As is also customary, some parts
of the movie are a bit corny but on the other side of that
coin are some instant classic fight sequences. It is this
movieís best selling point along with the teaming up of
these two martial arts giants. It is arguably the greatest
pairing of currently popular martial artists in one film
since Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris worked together and Chuck
wasnít even as popular yet on the big screen. This is only
because Steven Seagal and Jean Claude Van Damme never paired
up for a movie during their peak in the 90s (yeah, like that
would have been interesting).
There is not much to say about the acting in this picture.
The only real performances are during the fight scenes. This
is also true in part because it is a little difficult to
understand these guys, Jackie and Jet, when they talk due to
their heavy accents. It doesnít help the cause, but as soon
as the next action scene comes around you forget about
trying to figure out what they were saying. One aspect that
did help the cause is the overall chemistry between Jackie
and Jet. I was skeptical about that chemistry being
successful and I was proven wrong. They did pretty good with
each other even though they come from different movie style
and fighting style backgrounds. This is best shown in their
well choreographed fight scene against each other.
Definitely one of the best fights in the movie, as you can
imagine. They also brought a decent amount of humor to the
film. Itís easy to see Jackie accomplishing that and his
character, Lu Yan, is the funniest of them all. Michael
Angarano as that humble kid, Jason, sticks out like a sore
thumb as far as characters go but he is the bridge between
the two worlds presented in this story. His dialogue does
not help at all, but his fighting is impressive. Ah
Michael-san, are you the next Karate Kid? Maybe. I will say
that it must have been a real thrill for young Michael to be
working with such masters. Other than this kid, the rest of
the characters are all quite typical for this kind of movie.
So is the storyline. But arenít the vast majority of kung fu
movies built the same way?
Having been shot on location in China was a very good thing.
The filmís cinematography was that much better for it. The
special effects were not overly elaborate and just the right
amount was used (again keeping in mind the genre). This was
a big leap for Director Rob Minkoff going from such projects
as the Stuart Little series, The Lion King, and The Haunted
Mansion to this major martial arts motion picture.
Considering that it is his first, he did a commendable job.
This movie, however, is not for everyone. This is the kind
of movie that you go see for exactly what it is, an action
packed kung fu fantasy. You donít go see it for its
compelling script or its stirring drama because youíre not
going to get any. Thatís why I scored it for what it is.
Review By Cine Marcos
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