First off, I just want to start by saying that I was very pumped to see this movie. Finally, Jet Liís not starring in a rapper kung-fu movie, co-starring MTVís artist-of-the-year garbage, and Jackie Chanís going back to his roots playing the role that got him where he is today as the Drunken master.
The opening credits were awesome, but little did I know that it was the theme of the movie. About ten minutes into it, I thought I had walked into the wrong movie theater. What happened to this potential masterpiece of a kung-fu spectacular? I tell you what, The Forbidden Kingdom was written by John Fusco, an American writer who loves kung-fu movies. Unfortunately, he does not know how to write them. This script could have easily been pawned off as the next Power Ranger movie. Also, the director, Rob Minkoff, is an accomplished Disney movie director, not kung-fu. These two elements were a bad combination for attempting to make a good kung-fu movie.
The ridiculous plot follows a young man (Michael Angarano), a karate kid wanna-be, in the mid-nineties who finds a magic staff in an old Chinese manís (Jackie Chan) video store. Suddenly he is wisped away to an alternate universe where the clichť kung-fu movie comes alive, can you say Last Action Hero? The story continues as he bumps into Lu Yan, the Drunken Master (also Jackie Chan), where he discovers that the staff needs to be returned to its rightful owner, the Monkey King (Jet Li). Now enter a few bad villains with cool superpowers and another character, the Silent Monk (also played by Jet Li) and they both teach the kid kung-fu so he can take on the final bad guy and get the girl in the end.
The predicable story had no substance and I found myself itching to just see some fighting scenes. Iím sorry, but I was very disappointed with this Never Ending kung-fu Story, and where was Falcore? The only thing that kept me from walking out was the beautifully choreographed fight scenes by the infamous Woo-ping Yuen (The Matrix, Kill Bill). If you want to see a good kung-fu movie this weekend save your money and go rent some classics such as The Drunken Master starring, in his best role, Jackie Chan and any of the Once Upon A Time In China starring Jet Li, also in his best roles.
Words by: Russ Lippitt