The winning combination of Jackie Chan and Jet Li finally comes to fruition in this movie “The Forbidden Kingdom.” This movie is a slight variation of the Monkey King or West Quest legendary story we all heard about while growing up in Taiwan and China. It appeals to the kids because the Monkey King (Sun Wu Kong) is a bona fide manifestation of a child, who enjoys monkeying around.
The Gongfu scenes were numerous and satisfying to the audiences who wanted the see Jackie Chan fighting with Jet Li. Jackie showed off his many type of Gongfu styles: drunk, mantis, snake, and etc. Jet Li does a good job on different weapon styles like spear.
Including an Italian American boy from Chinatown make the movie easier to relate for the American audiences. But the plot draws parallelism to the Kungfu Kid movie when both masters are teaching to boy Gongfu. It’s a bit stretching to think Gongfu can be taught in such a short time. Wouldn’t it be nice?
Of course, what’s a Gongfu movie without the victor winning the heart of the girl. To me the girl’s desire to seek vengeance against the bad warlord seems to be orthogonal to the movie plot. Her acting wasn’t so great or believable anyway. She appears to be added as a second thought.
Making the warlord the bad guy seems to embarrass the Jade Emperor, the supreme God, who probably doesn’t deserve to be the God if he does not possess good management skill to appoint the right leadership on his behalf. But that’s taken from the management angle – nothing to do with entertainment.
Overall, the movie has plenty of actions. That was great. Leveraging the old mystical story of the Monkey King was a smart thing to keep the Chinese audiences interested. At the end when Jet Li turned into one of the hair of the Monkey King was a nice twist and kept me guessing. But the movie plot can be refined further and the casting of the girl and the boy can be improved.
Here is the trailer for the movie. Love to see other collaborations between Jet Li and Jackie Chan in the future.