Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Forbidden Kingdom

Jackie Chan and Jet Li star together for the first time in this American written and directed version of an Asian Martial arts epic. The film doesn't try for any thing original except for the pairing of these two superstars. It's a combination of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" ,"The Karate Kid" , "Lord Of The Rings" with a bit of " The Wizard of Oz" thrown in for good measure.

The story itself is entertaining but suffers from anemic dialogue. The sparks do fly with every action sequence, especially an early fight between Mr. Chan and Mr. Li. The legendary fight choreographer, Woo Ping Yuen is not content to have his actors battle on the ground. There is more wire work in this film that a mouth full of braces. Even so, the action is fast and furious and fun to watch. Michael Angarano does his best Ralph Macchio impression learning to fight from the two masters while trying to find his way home.

If you enjoy this genre, you'll appreciate it more on a big screen. The locations are a visual treat, even if there is no logic to the trek between forest, desert and mountaintop. The desert sequence appears to have been written solely as a set up to a crudely humorous visual joke. Most of the humor in the film is provided by Mr. Chan and contrasting his style against the more serious Mr. Li is what makes the film fun to watch.

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