The Forbidden Kingdom
Rated PG-13; Directed by Rob Minkoff; Starring Michael Angarano, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Yifei Liu
The Forbidden Kingdom is a silly film. Silly does not mean bad, just…well…silly. Of course, the film is not designed to meet the needs of a film snob. It is crafted for a younger audience, an audience that loves kung fu fighting and stories about young men becoming heroes. That audience will find a lot to like. There are tons of kung fu battles, lots of solemn proclamations, and luckily, plenty of laughs. But most of all, it is quite silly.
In this first movie pairing of Jackie Chan and Jet Li, we have a story of a Boston boy named Jason (Michael Angarano). Jason meets up with the two superb fighters when he somehow magically finds himself in feudal China carrying a legendary fighting staff that must be returned to a mythic owner. A kung fu movie fan, Jason haplessly only knows about fighting as seen in the movies, but he must now learn the ancient arts himself in order to save the Monkey King from the Jade Warlord (see, I did say it was silly).
The movie has some knockout battle scenes, especially the first one between Jet Li and Jackie Chan, but sometimes the action sequences overtake the story. Mixing Chinese myth and Hollywood sensibilities, the movie works best when it goes for the laughs. The special effects are well done, the Chinese scenery gorgeous, and the overall silliness enjoyable.
The Forbidden Kingdom is not a great action movie, but it does try hard to entertain. With Jackie Chan and Jet Li as the stars it often achieves that. Along the way, we get plenty of silliness.