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THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM, 2008
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THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM
Movie Review
Directed by Rob Minkoff
Starring Jet Li and Jackie Chan
Review by Eli Manning




SYNOPSIS:

A discovery made by a kung fu obsessed American teen sends him on an adventure to China, where he joins up with a band of martial arts warriors in order to free the imprisoned Monkey King.

REVIEW:

The Forbidden Kingdom stars kung-fu movie stars Jackie Chan and Jet Li, so you're going to get some entertainment fight scenes. And we do get plenty of it, especially an entertaining one between the two stars midway through. It's what you expect with veteran choreographer Yuen Woo-Ping ( Kill Bill, The Matrix), who always delivers top notch fun.

But this is not really a Chan and Li film, as it's really a child coming of age story ala The Karate Kid and Star Wars. Jason (Michael Angarano) is a bullied kid from South Boston who stumbles upon an antique Chinese staff which magically transports him back to feudal China (doesn't that always happen!). There he meets Chan and the adventure begins to bring the Chinese staff to its rightful owner -- who happens to be in the midst of a 500 curse where he is currently a statue.

Chan and Li must train the kid to be a kung-fu specialist in order to defeat the evil people and of course teach himself to who is really is.

This is a nice fantasy piece, eventhough it's plot is riddled with cliches. Chan and Li are both stars who really shine in this movie playing glorified supporting roles. They both seem relaxed, as it shows in the fight sequences. Even at their advanced ages, these two sure can perform.

What's missing is a point of view perspective from the leading kid. The director chose to film things from an outsiders point of view, where we the audience are watching things from afar. Most fantasy films we are watching the entire action with our hero as we are with them exploring as they explore. Think Luke Skywalker in Star Wars and Dorothy in Wizard of Oz. So while all the fun/action/tension is happening in fantasyland, we are not watching it from the kid's eyes but seemingly from a binocular perspective. Strange why he chose that route as it would of much a much funner emotional ride if we were always with the kid. Still, this is a good movie for adults and for kids to watch as it crosses generations. It's a story we've seen before, but a good story to be repeated as it's mixed with Chinese action and Eastern philosophy.

There's a setup in the common world in the 1st act for the kid to get redemption on his bullies in the 3rd act. For some reason moviegoers and myself can never get enough of the weaker man/woman getting revenge on the people who stomped on us. Even in Superman 2, when Superman goes common for a bit because of love and then gets beat up in a diner. The movie can't end until he gets his revenge when he's back as Superman. And The Forbidden Kingdom can't end until the kid gets his revenge on the ones who beat him up. It's the Western and Eastern way! And it's the movie way that we'll never get tired of. center>

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