The Forbidden Kingdom
Seeing Jet Li and Jackie Chan in one poster almost made me go into a seizure. The fact that Jet Li was in period clothing — something I had not seen since his Once Upon A Time In China days — made the seizure go up a notch.
I decided right there and then that I was going to see this film, even though I had set myself up for disappointment. The movie was about a Kung Fu obsessed American teenager, after all. I was very sure that if they were going to make this into something like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon meets The Last Samurai, it was bound to fail. Then again, I’ve always been a sucker for great action scenes, bad story lines notwithstanding. Why else was I highly entertained by Street Fighter II Movie and Naked Weapon (starring Maggie Q)?
I was pleasantly surprised to find that despite the seriousness of the premise — it is loosely based on the Chinese classic Journey to the West (西遊記) — Chan and Li provided much hilarity. Putting them in one motion picture was a stroke of genius! Who would’ve guessed that they’d have excellent chemistry? The treatment was light-hearted, fast-paced and action-packed. I wished the choreography could’ve been smoother, but hey, I may never get to see Chan and Li together again.
Sure, there were a few scenes that made me cringe, like that feeble attempt at a romantic angle between the accidental hero Jason (played by Michael Angarano) and the token female martial artist Golden Sparrow (beautiful Liu Yifei). I was mentally screaming, “She’s so out of your league!” The stunning presence of the whip wielding, platinum-haired Witch (gorgeous Li Bing Bing) more than made up for these, though.
Don’t expect anything heavy from this one. I’d call this a vacation movie. It’s fun. Let’s leave it at that.