Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Movie Review: The Forbidden Kingdom

The Forbidden Kingdom is a wuxia film set in ancient China. Wuxia (Chinese: 武俠) refers to a genre of Chinese martial arts fiction.[1] It is comparable to Japanese chanbara (samurai fiction), European chivalric romances (knights-errant fiction), swashbucklers (sword-fighting fiction), and American Westerns (cowboy fiction). Despite its setting in ancient China, this is an English language film.[2] In fact, the majority of the actors—including two of the most recognizable martial arts performers in Hollywood, Jackie Chan and Jet Li [3]—don't speak English as their primary language.

My verdict: For the most part I enjoyed this movie, but I doubt it would appeal to most. The acting is shallow and corny, but this is not unusual for wuxia films. Jackie Chan's character seems to be an homage to his Drunken Master films (which I did not enjoy).  There are some spectacular shots of the Chinese landscape and the cinematography is generally interesting and well-done. The fight scenes are meticulously choreographed and executed and are interesting to watch. Be warned that there is one rather crude scene while the main characters are crossing a desert.


[1] See

[2] There are a few scenes in Mandarin and Cantonese, though. It's a little disappointing that the focal character was an American boy.

[3] This is the first film they've appeared in together.

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