The Forbidden Kingdom

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Quite possibly the best and most enjoyable kung fu movie I have ever seen. An American teen obsessed with martial arts movies finds a mysterious staff in a Chinatown pawn shop which whisks him away to ancient mythical China, a land of sorcery, gods, demons and warriors. Jason meets up with Lu Yan (Jackie Chan), a sloshed sot who fills Jason in on the legend of the staff, telling him the story of how the Monkey King crashed a party atop Five Elements mountain, charmed the Jade Emperor but was subsequently sucker punched by the treacherous Jade Warlord. Together they set off to return the staff to the Monkey King and by doing so restore order to the Middle Kingdom. Somehow this movie manages to make Chinese fantasy and mythology accessible to a Western audience, with all the rich magic of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and all the humor of Shanghai Noon. The fight sequences are amazingly well choreographed and it is worth watching the movie if only to see Jet Li (The Silent Monk) take on Jackie Chan in a knock-down drag-out fight that results in quite a bit of property damage to a perfectly innocent temple. Golden Sparrow joins the merry band, intent on repaying the Jade Warlord in kind for slaughtering her family and she’s quite charming (if a bit intense), despite her odd habit of speaking in the third person. The ‘witch born of wolves’ is downright freaky and I love how she uses her long white hair as a weapon.

Many movies in this genre tend to be weighed down by heavy doses of philosophy and fatalistic doom but while this one is certainly not all sunshine, it has a lightness to it that is refreshing and the story is told in such a way as to be very understandable. The special effects are superlative, bringing the story to life in a totally immersive way and enhancing the magic of the experience.  Absolutely gorgeous cinematography featuring some of the most beautiful scenery in China and an immensely satisfying journey taken by Jason as he suffers the teachings of both Lu and the Monk and learns what is really important in life. A classic coming of age story, I highly recommend you give this most excellent movie a try! – BETHANY

For more on this exceptional kung fu movie, visit the Internet Movie Database

How pathetic are you when you have to fist bump yourself in the mirror?  Michael Angarano as Jason Tripitikas.

Jackie Chan as cheery perma-drunk Lu Yan.

“He who speaks, does not know; He who knows, does not speak. Surely you’re masterful.”

Yifei Liu as Golden Sparrow.

XiaoLi Liu as the Queen Mother and Deshun Wang as the Jade Emperor.

                       Jackie Chan vs. Jet Li as Lu Yan and the Silent Monk.  According to Jackie Chan,when he and Jet Li shot their fight together, they found it relaxing and easy: “I have not worked with someone whom I’m comfortable with, in terms of movements, rhythm and natural reactions, in the last 10 years. I have done many fight scenes with others but there were usually more than 10 takes, which is a waste of time as the person may forget his moves and unnecessary injuries. When I fought with Jet, our actions were quick. We also didn’t have to do the same stunt over 20 times.” (source: IMDB.com)

Jason is literally caught between two masters.

                    The Monkey King seems to always be grinning.

                 Could the Middle Kingdom possibly be more beautiful?

The scenery is just spectacular.

The sets aren’t half bad either.  The Jade Warlord’s fortress.

The Jade Warlord (Collin Chou).

The White-Haired Witch (Bingbing Li).  Gorgeous costumes in this movie!

                         Bingbing Li on set.  The actress spoke almost no English so her lines were adjusted accordingly.  (source: DVD extras)

                               And there goes the hair as a weapon …

The Silent Monk, Lu Yan, Jason and Golden Sparrow.  Jason is much improved, no?

A piece of trivia from IMDB.com:  Jason Tripitikas’ last name is derived from Tripitaka, the monk whom Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, accompanied in “Journey To The West”.

 

 

Jackie Chan’s appearance on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson:

Photos courtesy of Casey Silver Productions, China Film Co-Production Corporation, Huayi Brothers Media, Relativity Media, Lionsgate and The Weinstein Company (unless otherwise credited in clickable form)

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