I remember when I was younger watching the then two top martial arts stars in the world in their movies – Jet Li & Jackie Chan. I also wondered when or if the two would ever get together for a film – that’d be one hell of a movie!
Well, eventually they did!
Forbidden Kingdom is the movie that brought both Jet Li & Jackie Chan together, in an English language film based around Chinese mysticism and fantasy that seems to be tailored towards more family friendly audiences.
The main character in the film is a teenager named Jason. Jason is crazy over Kung Fu movies and visits a pawn shop run by an old Chinese man Hop (played by Jackie Chan). Hop sells Jason DVD’s regularly, but it is a Golden staff waiting out the back that really catches Jason’s attention.
After leaving the shop with some Bruce Lee movies, Jason has a run in with a local gang. After beaing pushed around and beaten up, he is forced to awaken Hop late at night, and the gang then enters to rob the shop.
During the robbery the leader of the gang, Lupo, shoots Hop with his gun. They then turn on Jason as he grabs the golden staff, which he is told by Hop to ‘return to it’s rightful owner’.
During the chase Jason hits a dead end on a roof top, when the golden staff pushes him off the roof, and he wakes up in the past, somewhere in China. While there he meets a Drunken immortal named Lu Yan (also played by Jackie Chan), a Monk (Jet Li) and a young girl – all with tremendous kung fu skills.
They discover that Jason is kind of like a ‘chosen one’, who must bring the golden staff to the Monkey King (played also by Jet Li), who was turned to stone by the evil Ruyi Jingu Bang – played by Collin Chou.
With the Monkey King being able to defeat Ruyi Jingu Bang, they all work towards freeing him to bring about peace. So the silent monk and Lu Yan train Jason in Kung Fu as they travel to return the staff.
Jet Li + Jackie Chan = Win!
I’m a big fan of both of these guys, and they both seemed to perform across from each other quite naturally.
With Jet Li playing a more stern monk, and Jackie playing what appears to be an alter ego of Fei Hung from Drunken Master (not really – just a drunken immortal), the two actors play characters that are extremely different from one another.
The contrast created between both of them was a useful way of keeping the two from competing with each other a little on screen, as they both compilment each other’s key characteristic.
Both men even took on other roles as well as their main characters. Jackie Chan plays the pawnshop owner Hop while Jet Li plays the Monkey king. Although the Monkey king adn the monk end up tying together quite nicely.
This is a movie both men put a lot of effort into, and I think it paid off!
Some Decent Action
The movie is a blend of Kung Fu technique, mixed with Wire Work and CGI to create some pretty decent fight scenes with some added mystical power (some of these guys are immortals!).
The fight between Jackie Chan and Jet Li was entertaining, as they both used completely different styles in their fight – Chan’s Drunken Boxing vs a more traditional orthadox style for Jet Li. When fighting other opponents the scenes are still pretty good, but the fight between both of the men was the real gem.
Michael Angarano does a good job as Jason, his martial arts ability shows pretty well on screen. it should since Yuen Woo-ping had him training for 8 hours a day! Which apparently was hard since he only spoke English and was surrounded mostly by guys who only spoke Mandarin or Cantonese fluently. Well it paid off pretty well!
Ultimately the action was good, but also a little held back due to the ‘family friendly’ nature of the movie. I mean it’s violence, and they have to make it look ‘not violent’ to be family friendly. So they’ve done a top job in my opinion.
A classic in the family friendly sense, but not one of the all time greats. It stands out having both Jet Li and Jackie Chan starring in it, and the action is pretty entertaining, backed up by great humor and a decent story. Check it out!
On Blu Ray –
Region A (US & Canada)
The Forbidden Kingdom [Blu-ray]
Region B (UK, Australia, New Zealand, Europe etc)
The Forbidden Kingdom [Blu-ray]
On DVD –
Region 1 (US & Canada)
The Forbidden Kingdom on DVD
Region 2 (UK, Europe, etc)
Forbidden Kingdom [DVD]
Region 4 (Australia, New Zealand, etc)
Forbidden Kingdom on DVD