The Forbidden Kingdom on DVD

The Forbidden Kingdom on DVD. Combining two martial arts stars in one film doesn’t always work, as Jet Li himself found out when he faced off against Jason Statham in the disappointing War. But this time the coupling with Jackie Chan, whose own recent work in Rush Hour 3 wasn’t so great either, produces a reasonably entertaining project. I was pleased that the director chose not to overdo the wire-work style of kung fu that has been too prevalent lately. The majority of the fighting scenes are close hand-to-hand, foot-to-foot, and staff-to-staff battles, a style I much prefer.

The plot centers on the 16th century Ming Dynasty character, the Monkey King, imprisoned by the Jade Warrior as a stone statue until the Traveler (in this case a teenage Boston kung-fu movie fanatic named Michael) can return the Monkey King’s magical staff. On his quest to defeat the Jade Warrior, Michael is trained and assisted by two other characters from Chinese mythology, Lu Yan (Chan) and the Silent Monk (Li), and a beautiful young girl named Golden Sparrow, all of whom have their own reasons for making this journey.  They are opposed by the Warrior’s army and the White Haired Witch, who seeks the staff so she can exchange it for an elixir granting her immortality.

In general, this film is a testament to moderation. It recognizes the mysticism in the story, but eventually shows that training, teamwork and technique will win out. It doesn’t try to overdo the special effects or the humor and by staying within itself, it is much more satisfying than many others.

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