The Forbidden Kingdom is a lite martial arts film.
This family-style kung fu story gets a 7.
I was all excited when I saw that Jet Li and Jackie Chan were going to be in the same movie. The advertisements on tv left out the small detail that it’s the story of a young man in Boston who loves martial arts movies and gets magically transported to ancient China to deliver a magic staff to the Monkey King. Fortunately, most of my apprehension was for naught. The dorky boy from Boston story line did not dominate the movie but dragged it down a bit. Of course, he had no kung fu skills and had to be taught by Jackie Chan, who reprised his Legend of Drunken Master role a bit. Only about 15 minutes of the whole movie were set in Boston so the pain isn’t too bad.
The plot is pretty reasonable. In order to defeat the immortal commander of the Jade Army, the Monkey King needs his magical staff returned from Boston so that the spell that has turned him into stone may be broken. The acting was pretty decent but not memorable. Jackie Chan is his typical funny goofball self but toned down a bit. Jet Li is very serious as a monk. The temple fight between Chan and Li was pretty good but not over the top. I think they tried to make it too mainstream and family friendly.
The costumes were very nice as was the scenery. It was not a low budget film. The opening scene with the Monkey King fighting the Jade Army on stone spires in the clouds was a nice touch. I also enjoyed the malevolent presence of the White Witch and her whip-action hair. Ok, so I do have a soft spot for good looking, intelligent, evil women. Send them my way.
This movie is only PG-13 and is ok for children and dates who aren’t real martial arts fans. If you want some awesome martial arts in a big budget format, check out Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, House of Flying Daggers, Hero, Royal Warriors (not big budget, Michelle Yeoh – Crouching Tiger), and the Kill Bill movies (not really martial arts per se but waay cool).