Posted by: Dr P | August 11, 2008

Forbidden Kingdom

When the opening scene of a martial arts movie sees a wholseome American whiteboy riding a pushbike and getting picked on by some larger bullies, you kind of already know what the final scene will be 😉

The chance to see the first big screen pairing of legendary icons Jackie Chan and Jet Li was simply too good to pass up. In addition to being a fan of these two, I am also hugely into the epic Chinese martial arts movies such as House of Flying Daggers and the sublime Hero. So the combination of the two promised great entertainment!

Practically nothing of reportable entertainment value happened in the build up to this film, we got served in a standard manner, no-one threw popcorn anywhere, Vic didn’t get anything in her eye, and there’s still no new Orange trailer! We love Rob Lowe, but come on! Get a new one!

So straight into the film. Loved the opening credits, how they used covers of old martial arts films as part of the title sequences, very clever, and particularly amusing as I[‘m sure Jackie Chan was in there too! The Yankee boy was portrayed as a fan of the 70s and 80s classics, which immediately scored points with me, as I used to own loads of them too – there’s nothing like watching early Jackie Chan with preposterous stunts, very silly villains, and seriously cool kung fu.

The story really kicks off when the bullies force our reluctant hero to take them to the Chinese pawn shop owned by a very old wizened guy – if you don’t spot who it is immediately, you need your eyes testing (and there goes another big chunk of the obvious plot!). The gang raid the shop and in the melee, whiteboy tries to escape after grabbing a big stick that the Chinese guy has said has some value … pursued onto the rooftops, heroboy falls off (duh) but on landing he awakens to find himself transported 100s of years back in time to an ancient land.

Here a war has raged between the good “Monkey King” (again, instantly recognisable) and the evil Jade Emperor. It transpires that the stick is a weapon belonging to the Monkey King and the only thing that can release him from his imprisonment in the Jade Warlord’s Palace!

Whiteboy is pursued by some local bandits, and is rescued by a very very drunk Jackie Chan, who manages to kick some butt while staggering around barely coherent. In that respect he’s a bit like half the cast of WWE. Or most of Bury on a Saturday night. It also turns out that Jackie is an immortal, who has turned up to help trashboy in his quest, but who requires the consumption of oodles of wine in order to retain his powers. Hmmm. Not a bad life I suppose. Not that I personally drink wine, but I am sure you connoisseurs out there would approve.

Our merry band is soon swelled by 2 more comrades. Firstly a young Chinese girl who bears a grudge against the Jade Warlord, and then by a travelling monk (Jet Li), who also is seeking vengeance, for perfectly obvious reasons if you’ve been watching the film with half an eye open.

The most entertaining part of the movie soon arrives, as Jackie and Jet get to face off for the first time – and they pull out all the stops in their quest for oneupmanship. It’s a bit like playing Virtua Fighter at a manic pace. And funny too. They soon realise that they should team up, which then provokes more laughs as they decide to teach our young hero the ways of kung fu. Jackie does this by making him slog his way through thick undergrowth (a bit like the wax on wax off bit in Karate Kid) while Jet gets him to stand in waterfalls seminaked and posing. We think this is to increase the appeal to 12 yr old girls as having a waterfall pouring on your head seems to be little preparation for a fist in the eye.

Anyway, the Jade Emperor has by now got to hear that the motley crue are approaching (actually, how cool would it have been if Motley Crue had been approaching!?) and despatches a witch to head them off. Not just any witch, mind, this one was raised by wolves and has astonishingly white hair which she can use as a weapon. Ladies, you’re missing a trick here! She was seriously hot, in fact so much I was kind of rooting for her, particularly against geekboy.

Anyway they eventually get to the emperor’s palace and the big showdown ensues, they all transform into the people they’re supposed to be, and it all goes off quite well. Our hero is sent back to Yankeeland, where he gets to kick ass on the bullies* and discover that all the people who helped him in his quest mysteriously now live in the street he frequents.

* this brings me to a long held gripe I have about Karate Kid. Quite aside form Ralph Macchio and his stupid headband, that bit at the end where he assumes the ludicrous one legged hopping position and uses it to kick his opponent down … why on earth doesn’t the other guy just walk around him and boot him up the arse?

A decent enough night out, particularly if martial arts is your thing.

Kung Fu – 8
Drunk Fu – 10
Jet Li – 7
Jet Li trying to smile – 3
Fu Manchu – 0
Typhoo – 4 (Yorkshire tea much better)
Hong Kong Phooey – 9
One Fu Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – ok, now we’re getting silly
Jackie Chan – 10
Charlie Chan – 5
Chan Chan the giant panda – dead
Chan Ting – a Buddhist speciality

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