Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Forbidden Kingdom

A bad acting makes The Forbidden Kingdom looks horrible. Aside from that, the movie is good at making you laugh and amazing you.


It has long been foretold that two legendary martial artists - who both have a career that spans over two decades - shall be united for the pleasure of martial arts films aficionados. Unfortunately, from what we see, the wait to see Jackie Chan (Rush Hour) and Jet Li (Hero) on the same set wasn't worth it. This is mainly because the artistic quality leaves to be desired.

Loosely based on Journey to the West, one of China's Four Great Classical Novels, the movie follows Jason Tripitikas (Michael Angarano), a teenager who likes old kung-fu movies. While in a Chinese shop, Jason finds a golden staff that once belonged to the Monkey King. When he's magically thrown back into Ancient China, Jason learns that he must return the staff to the Monkey King to end the rule of the mean Jade Warlord (Collin Chou), the ruler of the heavens. In his quest, Jason is helped by a Silent Monk (Jet Li), the beggar Lu Yan (Jackie Chan) and an orphan named Golden Sparrow (Liu Yi-Fei).

With two of the greatest on-screen martial artists, this movie certainly means a lot for many people around the world. Obviously, if you're in for the fight scenes, Yuen Woo-Ping's (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) choreographies might amaze you. However, if these fights are relatively spectacular, one may feel betrayed, because Jackie Chan uses wires and CGI effects. Moreover, some fight scenes often seem too easy for the characters meaning that the villains' henchmen don't seem to put up much of a fight. Well, if they actually do, they seem to be saying: "Here I am, just hit me!" Aside from that, the fight opposing Jackie Chan and Jet Li is awesome.

On another note, no matter how entertaining The Forbidden Kingdom is, this film is simply too worthless in the end. Of course, the simple storyline surprisingly manages to display a premise to viewers and it follows a path that doesn't resort to mindless plot twists. Honestly, this film's plot is a masterpiece in comparison with Bruce Lee's movies! Nonetheless, despite being simple, the storyline is dull - while it tries to be exciting - and clearly as predictable as any Hollywood summer trash.

Add to that the cast's bad performance. Although some members (aside from Li, Chan and Chou) of the cast deployed an incredible effort for the fight scenes, the same thing can't be said about their thespian ability. Indeed, the actors are stuck with uninteresting characters and they don't show a lot of enthusiasm. Even worse: the actors look like robots. To that matter, we can think about the scene in which Golden Sparrow talks about her sad youth. Considering that, Chou and Li Bing-Bing, as the top villains, don't look threatening at all.

Finally, what the movie loses in substance due to the bad acting, it certainly makes up for it with the fight scenes. The latter, as the movie progresses, becomes more interesting. Aside from that, this is the kind of movie you should watch and then forget for it's a sheer mockery to Chinese literature. Hopefully, the movie is quite eye-candy with its babes who are Li Bing-Bing and Liu Yi-Fei.

Rating: 2.5/5

***


USA (2008)
Length: 113 minutes
Genre: Action/Fantasy
Screenplay: John Fusco
Director: Rob Minkoff
Starring: Michael Angarano, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Collin Chou, Liu Yi-Fei and Li Bing-Bing

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