Enter Rob Minkoff's, The Forbidden Kingdom.
Alright, first thing's first. This movie may be suffering from a horrible disease going around these days called 'Trailer-itis', where the trailers for said films all build up a specific part of the movie to gigantic levels, but when we get to the theater, it's something completely different altogether.
What am I talking about? Take Spider-man 3, for example. See? Reading that made you angry, didn't it? For months up until it's release, we were slapped around with trailers and posters depicting the epic showdown on the horizon for Symbiote Spidey, and some hot Venom action. We were giggling with excitement. Then what did we get? Sandman, Sandman, Harry, Sandman, and oh hey! a 5 minute fight scene with Venom at the very end. Super.
Let's adapt, shall we? The entire buildup behind this movie is that it's the FIRST time ever that the 2 most famous living big screen martial artists are in a movie together Jackie Chan, and Jet Li. Excitement! We're even drooling a little; Chan and Li clashing fists? Oh the fight scenes we can picture in our heads
Now, fast forward to the release of the movie and what do we get? A fortune cookie tale about an uninteresting, scrawny teen named Jason who is trying to get home to his own time. The protagonist isn't even on the theatrical movie poster!
Here's the nitty-gritty:
Goofy, white boy Jason (Michael Angarano) is a Boston teen with a dangerously high obsession for Kung Fu flicks. Our boy also has problems standing up for himself, and gets dragged along into a spur of the moment robbery at a Chinese pawn brokers shop. In a weak attempt at defending an old man, Jason grabs an old staff and magically gets whisked away to ancient China you know, everyday stuff.
In order to get back to bean town, Jason needs to take the staff to its owner, the fabled, frozen-in-stone 'Monkey King' (Jet Li), who was imprisoned by the evil Jade Warlord (Collin Chou), who is currently reigning terror over the land. Jason then meets up with Lu Yan (Jackie Chan as a drunken martial artist heh heh. Sorry, couldn't resist), girl-out-for-revenge (Liu Yifei), and the silent monk (also Jet Li) to form a group just crazy enough to bring the evil warlord down and return the staff to its rightful owner.
'Jason' is simply a boring lead. He has little on-screen personality, and is just dull overall. The real anticipation in the movie is the head on clash between Jet Li and Jackie Chan unfortunately, it only happens once, for about 5 minutes. What's even more of a letdown is that half of said fight scene between the '2 masters' is done with excessive movie magic.
We're not talking Bruce Lee takes on Chuck Norris in Enter the Dragon, we're talking about tons of cable jumps, CGI, and over the top movements. If we're gonna do fight movies like that all the time nowadays, then what's the point of using real martial artists like Jackie Chan and Jet Li? Any big star can be a kung fu God cough*KeanuReeves*cough with movie magic we want to see people who ACTUALLY know how to fight beat the crap out of each other!
If you're a fan of Jet Li or Jackie Chan, or just overly fantasy movies in general, this one's worth a shot. Do NOT go in expecting an epic showdown to finally determine once and for all which of the two is truly 'the best', because the only real entertaining moment between the two is not the fighting but sadly when Jet Li actually golden-showers' Jackie Chan.
Coming soon: Harold & Kumar, and Ironman!