is a 54 year old man. This is clearly an indisputable fact and yet, he moves faster and more gracefully than most teenagers these days. Jet-Li
has been quoted as saying “I have met Jackie Chan
about 6 times up 'til now . . . and even though many people think we are natural enemies, I personally think he is a cool bloke and would honestly love to work with him in a film one time - that would be a well brilliant movie”!
Well you we are a lucky bunch then, because the film that we all wanted has finally arrived. The Forbidden Kingdom
starring Jet-Li and Jackie Chan together. On screen together....Let me just say that one more time: Jackie Chan and Jet-Li together. Exciting premise isn’t it! Well, you’d certainly think so and if the marketing was anything to go by, Jackie and er...Jet would be on the same side. This was a worry to me originally because I thought it a wasted opportunity to get them battling it out on screen. I needn’t have worried.
Initially, I thought I had wandered into the wrong screening. The film starts in Boston with a teenager sporting a very eighties hairstyle. To call it a “mullet” would be too kind. Nevertheless, stay with it for a while and by passing through a “gate with no gate” (don’t ask) the boy is on a mission. Sounds somewhat like the Wizard of OZ
doesn’t it? They pick up some friends along the way; three of them in fact (still sounding like OZ) and battle a witch (this is getting silly now. Next thing you know, they’ll be having flying monkeys). Oh and guess what? There is a master Kung-Fu artist and he er..resembles a monkey (and he seems to float in the air – even fly).
The film’s pace cannot be criticised due to the fact that only after 10 minutes of whining from the Mullet man (Michael Angarano
– a man who you’ve never heard of, but has 44 acting credits to his name), the fighting begins. Everyone fights everyone in this movie. Not one person is forgotten. Even the kids join in the fun.
Jackie is as charming and funny as ever bringing a welcoming face to the mix, whilst Jet-Li (certainly a seemingly more serious character) is the flip side of the coin. Although there are parts of the film that allows you to realise that Jet-Li can play the fool as well as his counterpart.
This film is lacking though, despite being a good romp. It should have been subtitled. Although Jackie is more capable of speaking clear and concise English, Jet-Li is not as natural. Unfortunately it seems that the second you make a foreign language film, half the audience loses interest and doesn’t bother with the cinema.
This film is “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” for a younger audience...an “Enchanted” for boys and a modern day Wizard of OZ all wrapped up into one. Of course every young person movie has to have its morals set firmly in place (see Speed Racer
). This film is no exception: It seems that you don’t need talent, a good haircut or even anything interesting to say, in order to overcome the bad guys.....oh and revenge gets you nowhere.
The evil doers are suitably evil and the “witch” looks like Storm from X-Men who’s gotten hold of straightheners and spends 4 hours of each day getting those unsightly curls out of her hair. The good guys are basically all misfits which brings an air of comfortable ease to the proceedings.
What is it about Martial Arts movies that insist all arse kickers should not seem to be out of breath. This does not look authentic at all. Don’t get me wrong, Jet-Li dressed as a Monkey flying around certainly doesn’t look authentic, but you’d think with all that defying gravity, he’d get tired once in a while. The only character on screen that seems to be short of breath is the Mullet Man. Speaking of which, the American teenager was unnecessary to the proceedings. These two legends of their genre did not need support. They didn’t need support from Jason Statham (The One), they didn’t need support from Chris Tucker (Rush Hours) and they certainly didn’t need support from Michael Angarano!
I do have one quite large problem with Forbidden Kingdom. The painted (green-screened) backdrops look fake. I realise this is because they are fake, but surely they shouldn’t look it. The soundtrack is suitably mystical and gives the movie atmosphere despite some use of blatant green-screening. The story is fun but predictable with nothing new truly said, but the fighting is highly enjoyable. It is good to see how Jackie Chan and Jet-Li movies differ during their fighting scenes. Certainly Jackie Chan usually choreographs his fights (he didn’t in this one) and yet manages to bring something fresh to the mix. This one, despite the lack of Chan-choreographed scenes still manages to impress.
There is talk (from the Weinstein Co.) of a sequel to this tale and I for one, am anticipating to coming back to OZ
I mean The Forbidden Kingdom for a good old Kung Fu knees up once again.
3.4 out of 10