Like most people, I got duped pretty hard on this movie. I was under the impression this was a Jackie Chan and Jet Li driven vehicle film but in actuality, The Forbidden Kingdom follows the main character of Jason Tripitikas. As Jason is heading out of Chinatown, he gets stopped by some local bullies. They make fun of him about his kung-fu movies and then show him some of their own fighting style. After they beat him down they tell him to rob a pawn shop and runs into an old man with a staff. Jason runs from the thugs with a staff that the old man hands him. As Jason tries to get away, he falls and lands in a different world in a different time. He comes across a man named Lu Yan who tells him about his staff. That it once belonged to powerful man named The Monkey King and how he was tricked into a non fair fight and before the King was imprisoned he sent his staff away so that someone could come rescue him with it.
Obviously, this white kid is his saving grace. By now, you should know if this movie is for you or not as this film may be America’s tribute to Asian cinema. Truly, what better way to capitalize on these two Kung Fu stars than by pitting them against each other and letting the film capture as much of this once in a lifetime chance of getting these two Masters together in the same movie. While the fighting scene involving these two megastars is a very minor part of the film, the scene is undoubtedly the best fighting scene in the film. Jackie Chan vs. Jet Li was truly fun to watch. We all know it could’ve been Much better though if they were probably 10 or 15 years younger than they are, but it was still a great fight scene. Praying Mantis, Snake, Tiger, Crane, all types of Kung-Fu was used. It was definitely something to witness.
As they all travel across China to the fabled Five Elements Mountain, both the Lu and the Silent Monk take it upon themselves to teach Jason the art of Kung Fu, which will be a long and arduous process. The film overall can be regarded as a kung-fu fantasy and a better made one than a lot of others over the years. I suspect the Asian market may not care for it, as America-Asia films cross the cultural border very poorly. I think most martial art film fanatics will be slightly disappointed by this film, but many will enjoy this movie for what it is – entertainment with a couple of excellent choreographed martial art scenes.
The Forbidden Kingdom may not be a Martial Arts flick for the ages, but I have to say I really enjoyed this one. The movie is just so much fun that any flaws that can be found are quite easy to overlook. This isn’t gonna go down in history as one of the greats, but due to the first teaming of Li and Chan it will go down for that. We have young people, old people, amateur fighters and pros, pretty girls with pretty moms, exotic locales and a lot of seriousness mixed with goofiness and Chinese mythology. So if you haven’t come to a conclusion about this film yet, it doesn’t live up to the caliber of the actors involved but its a fun way to spend two hours.