Let me start by saying that I really like movies where the protagonist goes in the past or future. So I was very excited to watch The Forbidden Kingdom that has this kind of plot and also because it stars Jet Li and Jackie Chan, today tops in Kung Fu.
The movie start with an American guy addicted to china and kung fu. Because of a series of events this same guy goes to ancient China, because he is chosen to bring back the staff to the Monkey King.
Before I go any further, I have to admit I am a Japanese/Chinese lover. More Japanese, but love both culture. I grew up with anime and manga and I’m still growing up with them. So you can imagine I was very excited! In case you are not into Asian stuff, I have to tell you they tend to use proverbs a lot.
Now, since Jason, the American guy, goes to ancient China, proverbs is their way of talking. If they want to tell you to go and kill that man, they would probably go like this, “do what you have to do,” which basically means nothing and everything.
If I imagine myself to be teleported in ancient China, I would first not understand a word of Chinese and if by chance I encounter a Chinese speaking man, and he would star speaking in proverbs I would be a “what the hell” all the time. I would simply not get what they are saying, so better they speak Chinese.
It seems though that our hero, Jason, is pretty good in philosophy and actually understands what he has to do. Good for him, he didn’t neither freak out. I would totally freak out, who wouldn’t? It is either I’m on drugs or I have serious mental problems, no one would believe straight away that they have been chosen to do something good or that everything is real.
The guy believes it and its fine. Jackie plays Lou a drunken warrior. He teaches Jason how to kung fu and helps him in his journey to return the staff. Jet Li plays the silent monk and the Monkey King that at first steals the staff, but then helps it return it its owner.
Another companion in the trip is Sparrow, an orphan girl that likes to speak of herself in second person; “She wants to kill you.” Once I read that Japanese think it is cute, especially when girls speak that way. I think it is confusing. At first I was like, “she who?” and if I were there I would understand anything she is saying, better proverbs!
I forgot to mention the enemy. The enemy is Jade Warlord played by Collin Chou. He deceives the Monkey King to fighting without weapons and magic, so the Monkey King throws his staff away and is ready to fight, when the Warlord uses magic and turns him into stone.
Another thing, he wears eye shadow. This might have been of use in ancient China, and we kind of still see these things now, but I would still have a WTF face.
Another enemy is Ni Chang or the witch. From what the Warlord says she is born for wolves and is basically a witch. I really like the fact that she had long white hair. Liked it less when she used her hair for fighting. Yea, I should have remember that Asian also have a thing for hairs. Remember The Grudge? And basically all other Asian horror movies if we think about it. It is weird, really weird. I get martial arts make you super strong, but not to that extend. Plus it’s freaky, especially after seeing all their horror movies.
Verdict, it was ok. I mean the fighting scenes were awesome as expected when putting Jet Li and Jackie Chan together.
Some of the jokes were good too, like when Jet Li sees Jason and says, “But, he’s not even Chinese,” I think that was cool. I still would have hoped Jason would be more natural. Michael Angarano acting was great; I really believe he didn’t know any kung fu at the beginning of the movie. Obviously he did. But his performance was good.
Still, if we take a normal American guy and send him to ancient China, he would be like him. That’s where I didn’t find him really convincing. I try to imagine myself, or better someone I know, being sent to ancient China, they would totally freak out at first, then go for the definitely dreaming theory, then would not understanding the world around him, and the speaking in proverbs.
Great fighting scenes though.