The Forbidden Kingdom (2008)


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Fanboys can rejoice.

Martial arts. You either love it or you hate it. If you love it, you are typically either a fan of Jackie Chan or Jet Li. These guys are Gods among men in the martial arts genre. Like Alien vs. Predator, or Freddy vs. Jason, people have really wanted to see these guys go at it and figure out who would come out the victor. It’s the ultimate battle in some people’s minds. So instead of having a movie stereotypically called Jet vs. Jackie, we have The Forbidden Kingdom. No, this isn’t a movie about the two fighting, but there is one fight in the film that would have an audience cheering…which is half the reason why most probably watched this film for. Beyond that, the story isn’t bad either.

The story is about this young chap named Jason that is absolutely obsessed with kung-fu movies. Every other day, heck, maybe every day, Jason heads to china town to buy some more fight movies from an old fart. When some random bullies show up and shoot the old man, Jason grabs an old kung-fu staff, which transports him to The Forbidden Kingdom…which is pretty much ancient China amidst the legendary Chinese Mythos of a Monkey King and super-powered wire-woo fighters. It is there that he meets Jackie Chan and Jet Li’s character. It is Jason’s duty to return the staff to its rightful owner, and they do their best to protect him as he does this task.

I remember when I first saw this how on the edge of my seat I was when Jackie Chan and Jet Li started fighting each other. The movie almost makes the whole film worth it for that one scene. Now, you’ll probably ask who comes out at top…and I’ll give you a hint – they are both trying to do the right thing in the end…so come up with your own conclusion. Regardless of how it ends, it’s still satisfactory as it goes on, because both Jackie and Jet make sure to apply the fights they are famous for. Jackie with his Tiger-Fu and Drunken Master routines, and Jet Li with his…Jet-fu I guess.

Believe it or not, I came up with the title “The Forbidden Kingdom” but never trademarked it. I wrote a book with the same title, and it was released after the movie, but plans for the book, including the title, were devised years before anyone ever decided to make the movie. Oh well. There’s no real resemblances between the two, though. That was just some random information. Anyways, let’s dissect the plot.

This is the kind of movie we’ve actually already seen so many times before. A regular person getting sent into a mythical fantasy world. Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, Chronicles of Narnia, heck even The Matrix has this theme. What else happens in this type of movie? Well the regular person has to manage to save the world. That’s pretty much the idea behind all of the movies, and what sets it apart from the rest is substance and characters. For this film specifically, it was mostly kung-fu wire-woo. Jackie Chan and Jet Li were absolutely amazing together, but their characters were honestly not overly memorable, and either was Jason’s.

What was interesting was that the story revolved around actual Chinese Mythos, but who cares when no one really is aware of that mythos? Wrath of the Titans and Thor actually work because more people than not know about these legends…only Chinese would really know about these legends, and everyone else won’t even catch it. Which is kind of disappointing. Other than that, Jackie Chan doesn’t need wire-woo to look cool, or special effects at that matter, but at least in general it looks good. This isn’t a true Jackie Chan movie, it’s more of a Michael Angarano movie…and in that regards…it’s not bad.

The Good:
Jackie Chan fighting Jet Li is something that some fanboys around the world have been waiting for their whole lives. The music is also really great. Overall, you’ll have a wicked fun time watching.

The Bad:
The story is overdone, the characters aren’t super memorable, Jackie and Jet should have fought each other more, and it should have been based on my book…just kidding.

Memorable Quote:
The Silent Monk
: What about the two tigers on one mountain?

Lu Yan: We can kill each other later.

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