The Forbidden Kingdom – movie review

An American teenager who is obsessed with Hong Kong cinema and kung-fu classics makes an extraordinary discovery in a Chinatown pawnshop: the legendary stick weapon of the Chinese sage and warrior, the Monkey King. With the lost relic in hand, the teenager unexpectedly finds himself traveling back to ancient China to join a crew of warriors from martial arts lore on a dangerous quest to free the imprisoned Monkey King.

The Forbidden Kingdom
Cast: Jet Li, Jackie Chan
Studio: Lion’s Gate
Rating: 8/10

Corporate line:
An American teenager who is obsessed with Hong Kong cinema and kung-fu classics makes an extraordinary discovery in a Chinatown pawnshop: the legendary stick weapon of the Chinese sage and warrior, the Monkey King. With the lost relic in hand, the teenager unexpectedly finds himself traveling back to ancient China to join a crew of warriors from martial arts lore on a dangerous quest to free the imprisoned Monkey King.

Directed by Rob Minkoff (Stuart Little, Lion King), the film marks the first-ever on-screen pairing of martial arts superstars Jackie Chan (Rush Hour, Drunken Master) and Jet Li (Fearless, Once Upon a Time in China). The original screenplay by John Fusco (Young Guns, Hidalgo) is based on the traditional Chinese legend of the Monkey King. The film is produced by Casey Silver (Ladder 49, Hidalgo, the upcoming Leatherheads) of Casey Silver Productions. Renowned action choreographer Wo Ping (The Matrix, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) is creating the fight sequences, and the director of photography is Peter Pau (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon).

The review:
Certainly the teaming of Jet Li and Jackie Chan is worth seeing alone. In my opinion a Jet Li movie is always a must see and now Jackie Chan being added is a huge bonus. But names alone don’t make a movie so a good script must be had in order to take it over the edge. The good news is the plot is great and neither legend is wasted with frivolous nonsense. This is a fantastic piece of storytelling with brilliant action. Any decent kung-fu movie is worth seeing and fans will be happy to know this is extraordinary.

Li and Chan play kung-fu masters who, in an interesting way, are playing themselves or at least their on-screen persona. That sounds far more mind-boggling than it is. The best part is that the movie brings nonstop entertainment that is just plain fun. It reminds me of the many fairy tales from the ’80s that were made for young boys.

Finally:

“The Forbidden Kingdom” harkens back to the days of innocent fun that spares no stunt in order to purely entertain. This is a true fantasy film for all ages and will certainly appeal to tween boys who love martial arts and fantasy. It’s not attempting to be an epic–and never has to be. Every young boy will walk out of the theater wishing they were there. You can see it in the kid’s eyes as they leave in wonderment dreaming of the many moves and who they might use them on. I know how they feel–I left dreaming about performing a few of those moves myself.

Watch the “The Forbidden Kingdom” movie trailer: