Stills of "The Forbidden Kingdom"
(Courtesy from Encore Films)
Genre: Fantasy/Martial Arts Director: Rob Minkoff Cast: Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Michael Angarano,
Liu Yifei, Collin Chou, Li Bingbing RunTime: 1 hr 45 mins Released By: Encore Films & Columbia TriStar Rating: PG (Action Violence) Official Website:http://www.forbiddenkingdommovie.com/
Opening Day: 18 April 2008
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 travelling back
to ancient China to join a crew of warriors from martial arts
lore on a dangerous quest to free the imprisoned Monkey King.
When my mum first saw the TV spot, the first question she
asked me was “Why are the two of them spouting their
dialogues in English when they are drabbed in traditional
out from the mouth of a fifty-year old auntie who has not
stepped into the cinemas for decades, she got me stumped.
Well, only Hollywood has the right mind to place the two best
action heroes of our time in an English fantasy, martial-arts
genre without feeling the least awkward.
written by a foreigner by the name of John Fusco, the plot
is a wild spin on the famous epic classic, “Journey
to the West”. Even more bizarre, we have characters
such as the white haired bride which is from the novel by
Liang Yusheng and also Golden Sparrow from the archives of
Shaw classics. Indeed, it’s a testament that this is
really from the land of make-believe and the hands of Rob
Minkoff who directed “The Lion King” and “Stuart
you are still interested in the plot, Jackie Chan plays an
immortal called Lu Yan and Jet Li, the silent monk. Both together
with an American teenager, Jason Tripitikas (get it?) and
a village girl nicknamed Golden Sparrow (Liu Yifei) must free
the Monkey King (Jet) from the evil Jade Warlord played by
for additional info is from the future, a kungfu obsessed
teenager from Boston who accidentally caught hold of a magical
staff and land himself in a Chinese village and why he is
the chosen one to defeat the evil Warlord is up for guesses.
clunky plot aside, this cross-cultural production is impressive
for the technical achievements alone. Acclaimed cinematographer
Peter Pau (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) contributed the
vast and rich shots of the breath-taking landscapes. Even
the production designer deserves his due for the lush, wondrous
detailed looking sets.
about Yuen Woo Ping who did the choreography? Yuen who served
as executive producer as well doesn’t serve up anything
new and he competently did the usual CG enhanced and wire
works choreography seen most famously in “The Matrix”.
Watching Jackie Chan and Jet Li sparring for the first time
on the big screen with all those CG tricks, stunt doubles
did hampered the viewing experience. Still, these two self-proclaimed
old folks show that they can fight and execute their skills
better and fluid than any of us as seen in the movie with
Chou (an action star himself in the 80’s). Good thing
it was lensed by veteran Hong Konger Pau and all the slick
moves were duly captured on screen. If this is a made in Hong
Kong contemporary action drama, things might turn out to be
far more impressive indeed.
out for newcomer Liu Yifei’s memorable turnout as the
vengeful Golden Sparrow. This girl is not just fluent in English
but prove she can act as well.
and Jet has publicly declared not to pin too high a hope on
“The Forbidden Kingdom”. The sad truth is they
are not smoking us. “The Forbidden Kingdom” is
made purely from Hollywood’s point of view, fluffy and
kids-friendly and absolutely not for the hardcore martial-arts,
kungfu action fans liked myself. If you are not entertained
by the fights, at least there’s the cliché dialogue
to amuse you.
(Take a seat, have a cup of tea and bun, this is a walk in
the park for Jackie, Jet and you)