The Forbidden Kingdom Rob Minkoff

The Forbidden Kingdom Rob Minkoff
For those of us who bow at the altar of action classics like Drunken Master II and Once Upon a Time in China, the announcement of the first on-screen collaboration between Jackie Chan and Jet Li ranked somewhere between having an orgasm and witnessing the second coming of Christ, on a scale of awesomeness. Ah, but there’s a catch: the leading man is actually Michael Angarano, who plays an American teenager who gets transported back in time to ancient China. His only hope of getting back is to return a staff to the mythical Monkey King. He’s aided on his journey by Li, a mysterious wanderer, and Chan, a drunken master (nice touch). The fact that director Rob Minkoff also brought you The Haunted Mansion suggests that the primary audience is not old enough to have seen our heroes at their peaks. For an uncharismatic kid who doesn’t even get his picture on the DVD cover, Michael Angarano sure gets a lot of screen time. Still, The Forbidden Kingdom is innocuous family entertainment — colourful and generally enjoyable, in a comic book way. But anyone who’s paying to see The Forbidden Kingdom has come for Jet and Jackie, so does it work on that level? Yeah, pretty much. They get a nice, five-minute, Yuen Woo-Ping-choreographed fight scene that should satisfy any appetite for Jackie versus Jet whoop-ass, and they have good chemistry together, bickering like two kung fu Sunshine Boys. Separately, both of them remain enjoyable screen presences. Chan is particularly fun to watch; his performance recalls his cheeky, rascally screen persona of the ’70s and ’80s. The Forbidden Kingdom may not be a return to its stars’ glory days but it’s still Jet Li and Jackie Chan, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s worth the price of a rental. The Forbidden Kingdom is available on DVD, in a bare bones and a two-disc special edition, which has commentary by Rob Minkoff, some documentaries and a digital version of the film for iPods but no Jet and Jackie commentary. Oh well, maybe next time. (Maple)