The Forbidden Kingdom marks the first collaborative effort between Jackie Chan and Jet Li, unfortunately it’s a few years too late. The movie follows the story of Jason Tripitikas, played by Michael Angarano, a kung-fu movie loving Bostonian teen, as he enters the realm of the Forbidden Kingdom tasked with returning an ancient Bo staff to its rightful owner. All the while being accompanied by two kung fu masters, played by Chan and Li. While this may sound like a kung-fu lovers wet dream it’s Unfortunate that it had the wrong director. Rob Minkoff doesn’t have the experience or know how in directing a movie like this. It seemed like he was trying to make the movie too many things at once, blending a few too many genre’s into one movie.
Through his relationship with Lu Yan, an extremely old pawnshop owner played by Chan, Jason is transported back to a mythical China where immortals live and a Monkey King, played by Li, is imprisoned in stone by the evil Jade War Lord, played by Collin Chou. Aiding him in his quest is a younger Lu Yan, also played by Chan, the vengeful Golden Sparrow, played by the gorgeous Liu Yifei, and a mysterious monk also played by Jet Li, who do most of the heavy fighting while Jason ducks, runs, and acts freaked out until he’s trained in the art of combat.
The film delivers the goods when it comes to the action scenes, especially when you have choreographer Yuen Woo-Ping’s involved. Unfortunately the story feels convoluted and there’s barely and character development. The story feels mashed together at times and you’re often left waiting for the next fight to occur to speed things up. It’s unfortunate that the first collaboration between two greats comes off as mildly entertaining.