Wednesday, July 09, 2008

THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM - Mun-kaaaaaaaaayyyy!!!

FORBIDDEN KINGDOM is a loving a tribute to chessy kung-fu flicks and the dream movie for geeky kung-fu fanboys around the globe. The movie gives them their dream of being transported from drab reality into a world where Jet Li and Jackie Chan will teach them to fight and win the hot Asian chick of their dreams. But it's also a movie that lovingly mocks the conventions of the genre and the fans who worship it. (WANTED wishes it had this much heart and wit.) Jet Li spoofs Masaaki Sakai's Monkey - he fights brilliantly but he's also brilliantly funny. Both Jet Li and Jackie Chan mock the silly white teenagers who know every move but can't perform a single one. And let's not forget the Pure Comedy Genius of the Silent Monk making rain for the Drunken Master!

Comedy aside, fanboys will be watching the movie for the first screen battle between Jet Li and Jackie Chan. About half an hour in we see their fight. Yes, there's some wire-fu but it's mostly fist-on-fist. Awesome stuff, even if the physical impact of all the contact is muted for the 12A rating.

In fairness, the narrative surrounding the fight scenes is very corny Cinderella stuff. The dialogue is cheesy as is the incipient romance between the geek and the kung fu chick is weak. I also loved the montage where the kid learned kung fu in a week. Truly worthy of a TEAM AMERICA tribute song! Still, I can't deny that the movie left me in a cheerful mood. It's nice to think that dreams can come true. What else is cinema for? And all that wonderful location photography of sun-lit Chinese countryside made for a nice change after the torrential London rains.

FORBIDDEN KINGDOM was released earlier this year in Malaysia, Singapore, Canada, Indoensia, the Philippines, Thailand, the US, Hong Kong, Russia, South Lorea, India, Turkey, Israel, Portugal, Kuwait, Ukraine and Iceland. It goes on release in the UK today and opens in Estonia, Finland, Japan and Australia later in July. It opens in Norway, Brazil and the Netherlands in August; in New Zealand, Belgium and France in September and in Spain in October.

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