The Forbidden Kingdom

Starring Michael Angareno, Jackie Chan and Jet Li. Directed by Rob Minkoff
Running Time:
Rated: Rated PG (martial arts violence and infrequent coarse language)

Kung Fu Panda would have martial arts appeal to children's audiences. The Forbidden Kingdom has a similar kind of story but is geared towards the teenage audience (and is not as funny!).

There is huge marquee value in having Jackie Chan and Jet Li together in a Kung Fu movie and they live up to their appeal. Jackie Chan is not as young as he used to be and, while he does get into the action, and vigorously, he plays the master role this time. Jet Li did announce his retirement from these films a year or two ago, but obviously he has been persuaded to come out fighting one more time.

After a prologue with Li as the Monkey King, the Great Sage, clashing with foes, we are in South Boston where a group of vicious toughs are threatening young Jason (Michael Angareno) and assaulting the old Chinese man who owns a shop with souvenirs, combat DVDs and so on (Jackie Chan again). Then, suddenly, we are in a very picturesque China, mountains, valleys and deserts where a bewildered Jason cannot communicate with anyone until he encounters a drinking warrior who turns out to be an immortal (Jackie Chan). They team up with a monk warrior (Jet Li) and a young girl out for vengeance against the war lord who has killed her parents.

Jason has to do lots and lots of backbreaking training - with both master and monk training him. Eventually, they reach the war lord's kingdom and battles, many battles (with athletic martial choreography) ensue. There is also a female villain, young but with white hair (which itself is at times quite lethal).

A PG action film and a chance to see Chan and Li together.

HoytsOut July 24

Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.