“The Forbidden Kingdom” stars Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Michael Angarano. It’s directed by Rob Minkoff (The Lion King, Stuart Little 1 & 2, The Haunted Mansion) and written by John Fusco (Hidalgo).
An American teen who is overly familiar with marital art films, stumbles upon an ancient legendary stick that belonged to the legend known as the Monkey King. The stick sends him back to ancient China to bring the stick back to its rightful owner. Along the way he encounters friends, foes and falls in love.
Take Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon choreography, Jackie Chan’s Drunken Master character, and throw in a touch of The Neverending Story. That is the winning formula for The Forbidden Kingdom. An exciting, fun-to-watch, martial arts crowd-pleaser. It’s silly, but light-hearted and rarely heavy-handed. Everyone wants to know how well the fight scenes were. They were spectacular and very seldom were they mishandled. I like how the movie starts off in a violent and desolate world and shortly takes us to a much brighter world full of beautiful scenery, Kung Fu Masters and gorgeous women.
Although Jackie Chan and Jet Li show that age doesn’t faze a true Kung Fu Master, the real surprise here is Michael Augarano. I was really impressed by his Kung Fu skills once he conquered them. I also enjoyed the villain who uses her long white hair as a weapon. Goofy, smile-inducing antics are performed when these graceful fighters defy gravity, but it’s the fight scenes on-ground that are the most engaging and well-executed ones. Not to mention the scene where Jet Li and Jackie Chan square off is one of the best fight scenes I have seen in a while.
Overall, the storytelling drags a bit and it is a little scatterbrained. But does this really matter? It all comes down to the final showdown and the sight of these two great fighters in action. That is what everyone wants and that is what everyone gets. As far as entertainment goes, this one delivers with energy to spare.