Forbidden Kingdom, The (2008) Movie Review

Review by Jenni Tucker
The staff magically transports Jason (Michael Angarano) through time and space to China, where he meets a band of misfits – Lu Yan, the drunken kung-fu master (Jackie Chan), the silent fighting monk (Jet Li), and the vengeful Golden Sparrow (Crystal Liu Yi Fei) – all of whom join Jason to overthrow the evil Warlord and set the Monkey King free.

Along the way, the group has to out-manoeuvre the Jade Warlord and his forces, in order to return the Monkey King’s staff and end the evil Warlord’s violent and terrible rule.

I’m not the greatest fan of kung-fu movies, but I quite enjoyed the silliness of ‘The Forbidden Kingdom’. The fighting sequences, in particular, are spectacular – especially when Jet Li and Jackie Chan are pitted against each other. The fighting, some of which included the fighters flying through the air in a vaguely ‘Crouching Tiger’-esque way, was doubtlessly well-choreographed and executed by the actors.

The scenery was also amazing, with the real and CGI backdrops blending well.

However, as with most action films, the fight scenes and choreography were at the expense of the acting. Although my expectations weren’t that high, the standard of acting was pretty dismal. Jackie Chan and Jet Li were essentially responsible for driving the story, and Jason (played by Michael Angarano – who you may recognise as Jack’s son in ‘Will and Grace’) seemed to think a series of slightly confused-looking gazes into the mid distance was enough to indicate thoughtfulness / fear / any kind of emotion.

So, all in all, it wasn’t a bad experience – the film is fun and light-hearted, and visually very captivating. To enjoy the film to the full, you should be prepared to turn a blind eye to the inconsistencies in the story and the below-par acting!

JT - July 08

Review by Marijn Kampf
Unlike Jenni I really enjoy Kung Fu movies. I agree with Jenni that I don't tend to watch Kung Fu movies for their story. As most seem to be based on the same premise. Baddies want something from goody Kung Fu-er, who doesn't want to cooperate, friend/family member gets kidnapped in retaliation and after big show off fight there is a happy reunion after the baddies are beaten. The Forbidden Kingdom has a slightly more original story, but the main attraction is the action and the well choreographed fight sequences. I was surprised to see Jackie Chan in a movie where wire works where used. It did give a spectacular fight sequence between Jackie Chan and Jet Li. - which for some reason made me think of MTV's Celebrity Death Match - I would recommend watching the movie for this fight alone, if you are into martial arts movies!

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