Sunday, 13 May 2012

The Forbidden Kingdom Commentary

I got this movie as a two-pack Blu-Ray with The Bank Job for $10.  For that, I can't go wrong.  I figured I would get a couple hours of two of the best Chinese kung-fu stars that Hollywood has to offer.  It's sort of the equivalent of when we got Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro together in Heat.  The only problem is, Heat had a great story and didn't have to rely on DeNiro and Pacino.  The Forbidden Kingdom didn't have that and, sadly, having those two martial arts stalwarts together wasn't enough.  It is basically just another Asian martial arts epic that does absolutely nothing new.

The Forbidden Kingdom tries to be more than it actually is.  It takes elements of other martial arts and action movies and tries to blend them together into a timeless tale of mysticism and finding your way and honour and so on.  It tried too hard and ultimately falls short in all of those endeavours.  It's almost as if they took Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and mixed it in with the Karate Kid and a bit of Back to the Future.  The setup with Jason and Old Hop was a bit too short and the Jason character never really had the foundation he needed to be the unlikely hero.  The background and character of the Monkey King was more annoying than anything else.  Finally, the adjustment of Jason to this new world where people inexplicably understand everything he's saying is just too lazy for me to have really gotten engrossed as a viewer.  I don't mind creating a different reality in movies but you do have to establish the rules a bit and how the characters adjust to those rules; especially if the start of the story is in our world like this one is.  In the Forbidden Kingdom, they just ignored that.

There is some good in this movie though.  The visuals are what we've come to expect from Asian martial arts epics.  They are great.  Even though some of the wire fighting could have been done better, the locations, costumes and CGI scenery is really top notch.  Action effects are also done very well over all.  And the choreography with Li and Chan is up to par with what they've done in the past.  Their fight over the staff was a thrill to watch.

But, effects notwithstanding, there is just too much lacking in this movie with regards to story and originality.  Don't see it.

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