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The Forbidden Kingdom (2008)

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A discovery made by a kung fu obsessed American teen sends him on an adventure to China, where he joins up with a band of martial arts warriors in order to free the imprisoned Monkey King.

Director:

Rob Minkoff

Writer:

John Fusco
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Popularity
4,639 ( 154)
5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jet Li ... The Monkey King / The Silent Monk
Michael Angarano ... Jason Tripitikas
Jackie Chan ... Lu Yan / Old Hop
Juana Collignon Juana Collignon ... Southie Girl
Morgan Benoit ... Lupo
Jack Posobiec Jack Posobiec ... Southie
Thomas McDonell ... Young Southie
Zhi Ma Gui Zhi Ma Gui ... Old Woman
Shen Shou He Shen Shou He ... Farmer
Bin Jiang Bin Jiang ... Young Village Man
Shaohua Yang Shaohua Yang ... Jade Soldier
Yu Yuan Zeng Yu Yuan Zeng ... Inn Keeper
Deshun Wang Deshun Wang ... Jade Emperor
XiaoLi Liu XiaoLi Liu ... Queen Mother
Collin Chou ... Jade Warlord
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Storyline

An American teenager who is obsessed with Hong Kong cinema and kung-fu classics makes an extraordinary discovery in a Chinatown pawnshop: the legendary stick weapon of the Chinese sage and warrior, the Monkey King. With the lost relic in hand, the teenager unexpectedly finds himself traveling back to ancient China to join a crew of warriors from martial arts lore on a dangerous quest to free the imprisoned Monkey King. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The battle for eternity is the fantasy of a lifetime. (Canadian poster) See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sequences of martial arts action and some violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | China

Language:

English | Mandarin

Release Date:

18 April 2008 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Jackie Chan/Jet Li Project See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$55,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$21,401,121, 20 April 2008, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$52,075,270

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$127,980,002
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

SDDS | DTS | Dolby | Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jet Li worked with John Fusco on the screenplay and said, "He is a superb screenwriter and has been learning Chinese martial arts for more than ten years. He has roughly put across in the film some of my basic understanding of martial arts and principles of Buddhism." See more »

Goofs

As Ni Chang prepares to fire (should be shoot - fire is for guns) the arrow which hits Lu Yan, she places it on the wrong side of the bow. An arrow held as she positions it would rotate away from the bow as the bow is drawn. See more »

Quotes

The Silent Monk: But, he's not even Chinese.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Jackie Chan and Jet Li are credited together before the title. Jackie Chan's name is spelled out horizontally, but Jet Li's is spelled out vertically, and the same "J" is used for both. See more »


Soundtracks

Deng Zhe Ni Hui Lai
("Waiting 4 U")
Written by Yan Kuan
Performed by Bai Kwong
©EMI Music Publishing Hong Kong
avec l'autorisation d'EMI Music Publishing France
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Pointlessly Enthusiastic
24 April 2008 | by divadrummerSee all my reviews

If you're not a 13 year-old boy, Forbidden Kingdom was not really made for you. I understand the appeal of Jet Li and Jackie Chan, together at last, and everyone's hopes for a harmonious combination like peanut butter and chocolate. I shared this hope, but was served something more like canned cheese with crackers. It's not that this combination is bad, just that their pairing is framed within a feeble, pointlessly enthusiastic action film.

Forbidden Kingdom follows the story of Jason (Michael Angarano), a die-hard kungfu fan and his concussion-induced journey back in time to a mythical China. Jason must return a golden staff to the Monkey King (Jet Li), who is imprisoned in stone under the evil gaze of the immortal Jade Warlord (Collin Chou). Jason meets a silent monk (Jet Li), drunken master Lu Yan (Jackie Chan), and musical assassin Golden Sparrow (Yifei Liu) who all have a vested interest in the Monkey King or the demise of the Jade Warlord. They accompany Jason on his quest and give him the skills he needs to repel his foes.

The characters are interesting but completely shallow. We're introduced to them as stock. There's an assumed level of familiarity with martial arts movies, which they're directly inspired by, but little more is given than this stereotype. Lu Yan and the Silent Monk profess death threats, engage in playful antics, and display some unknown kinship, sometimes all within the same scene. We like Golden Sparrow because she's beautiful and she's the same age as our protagonist. Beyond an obvious romantic setup, a briefly uttered revenge quest, and a catfight, she's completely pointless. It's interesting that Li and Chan both play secondary characters in this movie, and in roles that are not their traditional typecast fare. Jackie Chan is terribly sympathetic, but by his own undeniable Jackie Chan charm, not on any strength of the movie.

My biggest problem with this movie lies in Jason's story. He's sent to mythical China with more stereotypes than skills, and through truly excessive use of montage, becomes a warrior who can help the Monkey King. I suspend disbelief for fantasy films, but the montages are as repetitive and annoying as the whiny Jason. Since we're so interested in Jet Li and Jackie Chan, why make them secondary characters and give the focus to a coming-of-age quest? My rhetorical question is answered for you in the first sentence of the review. But I think this also skirts the issue of trying to give equal screen time and top billing to the two biggest martial arts stars of our age.

As repugnant as the writing and editing may be, Forbidden Kingdom makes up for this in a good dose of fight scenes. This has some of the best story-to-action ratios of any martial arts movie, hearkening back to the heyday of kung fu, where the story is minimized to make room for more action. Nothing wrong with that! It's still entertaining as always to watch Chan and Li fight. There is one very long sparring sequence and while it's nothing terribly flashy, you do get a sense that the two are very well matched. Some of the editing is sketchy, relying heavily on reaction shots rather than allowing us to see maneuvers connect. Some of the fighting is extremely theatrical and extended, in true wushu style, and beautiful to see.

The visuals have that nearly animated quality, with emphasis on glow and gold, that we've seen so often in fantasy movies lately. Combined with the cutout characters, it gives the impression that you're watching more of a video game than a movie. I like video games, but this is not necessarily a boon. I'd like to see something more original, or maybe something that draws more heavily on Chinese cinema, since the movie already borrows so liberally from those films.

Forbidden Kingdom has all of the good components of a classic action film, but together, these elements work against each other in a big way. The narrative is short, but not short enough. The general tone is more like a poor comic book movie than a kung fu fantasy. This may appeal to some, but dressing up in silks doesn't make this tired thing new again.


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