Review: The Forbidden Kingdom


Director:Rob Minkoff

Cast:Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Collin Chou

Running Time:113.00


Jason is just your normal average American teenager; however, there is one thing that Jason does that sets him apart from the pack "“ he is a huge fan of Hong Kong and old kung-fu films. While shopping at a pawnshop in Chinatown, Jason discovers a stick that is said to have belonged to an ancient warrior, the Monkey King. In a matter of moments Jason is transported back in time, where he joins a band of martial-arts immortals on a quest to deliver the stick and release the legend from his stone imprisonment. Along the way Jason will have to confront his archenemies and ultimately take to learning the one skill that he has admired in film for so many years.

Bringing together two of the most popular martial arts actors to ever grace the screen, The Forbidden Kingdom scores high marks for its creativity and amazing fighting sequences. And though the film becomes somewhat of a mess by the halfway point, it quickly recovers, giving audiences an entertaining and climatic finish that will have fans lining up to learn the fun and exciting practice of kung-fu.

As the film opens, the audience is introduced to Jason (played by Michael Angarano), a young American teen with a love for Brice Lee and old kung-fu films. But within minutes Jason is taken from his somewhat normal surroundings in present day America and dropped in the middle of ancient China. From there, the film starts to get really good.

Introduced to the amazing landscapes of ancient China, the audience is sent on an amazing journey through the forests, mountains and deserts of the mesmerizing terrain. Having to outwit and outfight numerous enemies, Jason finds three allies along the way, each bringing a strong aspect to both the journey and the overall film.

First we have Lu Yan, a supposed immortal who also serves the role as the town drunk. What better actor to bring the humoristic character to life than kung-fu funny man, Jackie Chan. Using his comedic side and his expertise at kung-fu fighting Chan is able to bring Yan and his alcohol addition to the forefront, taking a forgettable character and making him truly memorable "“ a giant feat for a kung-fu centered film.

In addition, we have the Silent Monk, a soft and vibrant character who wants nothing more than to return the stick to the Monkey King. Played to perfection by the hard and fierce Jet Li, the Silent Monk is brought to the center of attention, stealing every scene that he is in and giving the film the one-two punch that it needs for success.

Lastly we have Golden Sparrow, a young and fierce girl who is seeking revenge for her parents' unwarranted murder. Played by Liu Yifei, Golden Sparrow is the least active of Jason's allies; however, when her character does become active in the overall story, it is done in a big way. From her amazing fight with an evil immortal seeker to her strong pursuit of vengeance, Golden Sparrow is there when she is needed but stays in background when she isn't "“ making her the ideal supporting character.

However, though each character was created well on-screen I do have to say that the film didn't really emphasize its characters much. In fact, the acting could have been miserable and the film would have still survived on its martial arts fight sequences alone. And because of that I have to say that the film was better than expected and now that I think about it, probably couldn't have been any better.

With a unique and interesting story, a solid ending and some great fight sequences, The Forbidden Kingdom has it all. It is just a shame that the kung-fu genre chooses not to emphasize acting and character development; which prevents the film from getting anything higher than a three and a half star rating.


About Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis
I owe this hobby/career to the one and only Stephanie Peterman who, while interning at Fox, told me that I had too many opinions and irrelevant information to keep it all bottled up inside. I survived my first rated R film, Alive, at the ripe age of 8, it took me months to grasp the fact that Julia Roberts actually died at the end of Steel Magnolias, and I might be the only person alive who actually enjoyed Sorority Row…for its comedic value of course. While my friends can drink you under the table, I can outwatch you when it comes iconic, yet horrid 80s films like Adventures in Babysitting and Troop Beverly Hills. I have no shame when it comes to what I like, and if you have a problem with that, then we’ll settle it on the racquetball court. I see too many movies to actually win any film trivia contest, so don’t waste your first pick on me. My friends rent movies from my bookcase shelves, and one day I do plan to start charging. I long to live in LA, where my movie obsession will actually help me fit in, but for now I am content with my home in Austin. I prefer indies to blockbusters, Longhorns to Sooners and Halloween to Friday the 13th. I miss the classics, as well as John Ritter, and I hope to one day sit down and interview the amazing Kate Winslet.

Leave a Reply