Reel Shorts | The Forbidden Kingdom

17 04 2008

A young kid travels back to ancient China for an ‘Wizard of Oz”-esque adventure in the first on-screen pairing between martial arts legends Jet Li and Jackie Chan in the sprawling adventure, “The Forbidden Kingdom.”

Young Jason is a huge martial arts fan. With pictures of legends such as Bruce Lee adorning his wall, he knows everything there is to know about the films – except how to fight. He hangs out at a martial arts store run by an old blind proprietor (Chan) who befriends the young outcast. After getting beat down by the a local bully, Jason has an epiphany worthy of Dorothy and Toto.

He is transported back to ancient China with nothing more than a sacred staff that once belonged to the immortal Monkey King (Li). Apparently, the gods granted the Monkey King immortality which angered the jealous Jade Warlord (Collin Chou). In the midst of their battle, the Warlord deceived the Monkey King, turning him into stone for all of eternity. Prophecy has it that holder of the staff will one day return it to the mystical Five Elements Mountain and back to its rightful owner. But the Jade Warlord will stop at nothing to make sure that doesn’t happen.

So with Jason off to see the Wizard Warlord, he is soon joined by drunken fighter, Lu Yan (Chan), young Golden Sparrow (Yifei Liu) and the Silent Monk (Li). With no Kung-Fu skills whatsoever, both Yan and the Monk take him on as a student and soon he is training in methods that would make “The Karate Kid” blush. He is whipped into shape in preparation for his “Lord of the Rings”-type trek to return the sacred ring staff back to the Middle Earth Kingdom.

If the challenge of learning from his two masters was not enough, soon the Jade Warlord dispatches the White-haired Witch, Ni Chang (Bingbing Li) to retrieve the staff in exchange for immortality. Can Jason learn fast enough to defend himself from the mighty Jade army and the bull-whip wielding flying Witch? Does he click his staff on the ground three times to find his way home?

With the trademark vibrant and beautiful cinematography, the story which is several notches below classics such as “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “Hero” and “House of the Flying Daggers,” but nevertheless is very entertaining. With so much anticipation to see the legends share the screen, the film doesn’t disappoint setting up a epic battle between Chan and Li with amazing choreography from the legendary Yuen Wo Ping.

Li, who originally said that he would not make another martial arts film after making “Fearless,” was lured back to the genre with a chance to finally work with Chan. The big question was with both having distinctly different styles, would one dominate the other? Thankfully director Rob Minkoff found a way to accommodate both legends, giving both space to do what each does best.

Based on Chinese mythology and adventure pulps, “The Forbidden Kingdom” is easy on the eyes but light on substance. What could you expect from a director who once made “Stuart Little?” Instead of a script worthy of both Li and Chan, what you get is fluffy, beautiful photographed Kung-Fu love letter. As one character says to the group, “four misfits following a misfit trying to save a misfit.” No man can serve two masters, even if they somehow make it work in this film that shows so much promise but ultimately fails to deliver the keys to cinematic “Kingdom.”

Grade: C




One response

18 06 2008

Hi all great information here and good thread to comment on.

Can I ask though – how did you get this picked up and into google news?

Very impressive that this blog is syndicated through Google and is it something that is just up to Google or you actively created?

Obviously this is a popular blog with great data so well done on your seo success..

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