The Forbidden Kingdom (2008)
The Drunken Monkey
Jason Tripitikas (Michael Angarano) is a martial arts geek, a young man whose passion for old martial arts movies comes above everything else, which means to you and mean he has no friends and lives in his bedroom when he is not down at an old pawn shop looking for second hand martial arts movies. When he is bullied by a gang who get him to persuade a pawn shop owner to open late there is a fight and Jason finds himself in possession of a magical staff which sends him back to ancient China where mythical characters exist. The trouble is that the staff which Jason is carrying belongs to the Monkey King (Jet Li) who needs it to beat the Jade Warlord (Collin Chou). But of course the Jade Warlord needs to prevent Jason from returning it to its owner, which leads a mysterious drunk Lu Yan (Jackie Chan) and a Silent Monk (Jet Li) amongst others to come to Jason's rescue and help him complete his mission.
I like an occasional martial arts movie but I'm not a huge fan boy, although I do realise that the pairing of Jet Li and Jackie Chan was something which for many years' fans had wished for. And then they got it with "The Forbidden Kingdom" and all should have been well except for two things. Firstly by 2008 Jackie Chan was in his 50s and whilst still more nimble than many men half his age was not as nimble as he was, the same with Jet Li who was in his 40s and so whilst to see them in a movie together was great they were by no means at their prime and so relied more on CGI and editing to create the impressive fight sequences.
Secondly whilst "The Forbidden Kingdom" has plenty of martial arts action and fantasy it is heavy on comedy and mainstream entertainment with fun characters. For those who had longed for Li and Chan to combine their talents might find it all a bit childish and family friendly especially with the story of a young American boy who finds himself on this quest in a fantasy world.
But even though it might not have been what everyone had hoped for "The Forbidden Kingdom" is entertaining with a lot to like about it. As I mentioned the action and fighting relies heaving on CGI to make it impress but it certainly does with a lot of larger than life fantasy action. And most of the action has a humorous side which is what you expect from Jackie Chan with Jet Li embracing the comedy with lots of face pulling which is more amusing than you might expect. Plus there is Michael Angarano who is perfectly cast as the stooge in all of this as there is something simply likeable about him.
What this all boils down to is that "The Forbidden Kingdom" might not have been what everyone had hoped for when Jet Li and Jackie Chan appeared together in a movie but it is certainly entertaining in a very commercial sort of way.
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