By: Corey Lack
The Forbidden Kingdom was a kung fu wuxia movie released back in 2008. It starred Michael Angarano, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li. The second two stars of the movie were clearly the biggest selling points of the movie when the trailers were released as long-time fans of this genre of movies were eager to see them work together for the first time. It was loosely based on the famed story, “Journey to the West.” Where the original story focused on a monk bringing Buddhism while being escorted by fantastical and strange allies, the movie has a teen played by Angarano finding himself magically transported to a world unlike his own and is charged with returning a magical staff to its rightful owner. Along the way, he’ll gain a number of allies including the wine-loving Lu Yan, a vengeful girl names Golden Sparrow, and the strange Silent Monk who has his own interest in the staff.
Despite the more serious tone of the plot, the movie had a surprisingly light tone through most of it. Long-time fans of his will see this akin more to Chan’s previous movies where there was a light tone to go along with the combat and threats. There were many funny parts to the movie, like watching Li and Chan’s characters argue over how to train the untrained Tripitikas (Angarano). Even Li’s character, despite the actor not usually playing a more comedic character, was the source of a lot of the comedy.
The choreography of the many fight scenes was the selling point for the movie. Anyone familiar with Li and Chan’s work know that their movies can be expected to have phenomenal action scenes due, in no small part, to the two actors’ skills. The fight between the two when their characters first meet was perhaps the best of the entire movie.
This movie can best be compared to Jackie Chan’s movies as it had a lot of similarities to the likes of Rush Hour. There were understandable threats, comedy, a light tone through most of the movie, and phenomenal fight scenes. Honestly, anyone that’s a fan of either Chan or Li should definitely give this one a watch. I’d give it 8.5 monkey king statues out of 10.