I’m not a very big fan of American fantasy movies, even when they are focused on Chinese culture and myth. I prefer the real deal, and Chinese movies are always better when they are not western made. But I’ll make an exception for The Forbidden Kingdom, simply because Jackie Chan is in it.
And for anyone who thinks I’m missing someone here – yes, of course Jet Li as well – he’s great and I always enjoy his movies. But compared to Jackie he just doesn’t measure up, not through lack of skills but merely because Jackie’s screen personality is so great he steals the show.
Apart for Jackie (and Jet Li) The Forbidden Kingdom doesn’t have all that much to offer. It’s beautifully made, but the plot is hopelessly confused, made for an American/European audience only. But it has its moments. Jackie Chan and his young protégée in the teahouse, for instance, has a striking resemblance to the teahouse scene in Drunken Master II as well as to one particular scene in Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow. And to see Jackie and Jet Li fight is first class entertainment, especially when Jackie shows he’s still the undefeated master of drunken boxing!
According to an interview with Jackie he wasn’t all that keen on picking up the drunken boxing again. I’m glad he did it though. There is something magical about the way he does it, and to me it’s just great artistry.
So whatever The Forbidden Kingdom was intended to be I think of it mainly as a fantasy tribute to the old Hong Kong flicks that made Jackie a star. And it’s definitely worth a look, if only for Jackie and Jet Li.
- 2 reviews of The Forbidden Kingdom (rateitall.com)