The Forbidden Kingdom, 2008
dir: Rob Minkoff
To start with, I have extremely low expectations of this movie. In fact, I have waited until yesterday to watch the movie, and I wouldn’t have gone to watch it if not for the complimentary passes. The channel did a joint promotion for this movie, due mainly to our good relationship with both the distributors, one of which is our sister company. But the main reason why I decided to do a tie up is because I know this movie will appeal to our main target audience, especially with Jet Li being so popular with this customer group, and with this tie up, it is a reward to our loyal customers. Indeed, it is true. The majority of the people in the cinema yesterday are Malays. And they really enjoyed it, as far as I can tell from the yells and the “Yes!”.
The funny thing is, I enjoyed it as well and thought quite highly of this movie. Maybe it is because of the low expectations. I find this movie an honest fan-boy tribute to kungfu movies. It is at once quite well made, with good-humoured and like-able characters, charming acting from both Jet Li (as Silent Monk and Monkey King) and Jackie Chan (as Lu Yan and Old Hop), superbly beautiful girls-with-weapons to kill (Li Bing Bing as Ni Chang and Liu Yifei as Golden Sparrow) while Michael Angarano is not bad too as Jason Tripitikas although his overly abundant chest hair can get a bit annoying.
It is quite nice to see familiar characters reappearing on screen – Jackie Chan’s Drunken Master and scene reminiscent although a bit short on the training on the horse stance, the Bride with White Hair (Ni Chang) – Wow! Li Bing Bing is soooo beautiful and charismatic – I wouldn’t mind her playing a sequel or prequel to THE BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR, Cheng Pei Pei’s Golden Swallow – again, Liu Yifei is extremely beautiful too and same-same, I wouldn’t mind having her in a prequel/sequels/remake of COME DRINK WITH ME, the Monkey King etc. Weave all these together based on the story of the Monkey King, we have a well made fantasy-action-comedy movie.
How about the action and the fighting? The action choreography is directed by Yuen Wo Ping afterall. With Jet Li and Jackie Chan promising a duel, the action sequences should be top class, what more, with Peter Pau as the cinematographer ensuring that we see the actions well played out. The final result is that it is nothing much to shout about albeit fun to watch, and the various fighting sequences with the Tiger, Snake, Hawk methods is quite nice and reminds me of my own childhood where I was captivated and mesmerised by these Kungfu Stance and methods I took it on myself to perfect the snake stance, practicing with my dad who is a Chin Woo Martial Arts member.
All in all, this movie reminds me of the good old days where we, as kids, are captivated by kungfu movies. Watching this movie, I think to myself, “indeed it has been a long time”.