Everybody was kung fu fighting

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Jet Li and Jackie Chan team up in Americanized Chinese legend

Kung fu meets, well, more kung fu in The Forbidden Kingdom, a pint-sized Chinese epic that answers the age-old question: what would happen if Jackie Chan and Jet Li were in a movie together? Answer: the white teenage boy would get the Asian girl.

Kung fu meets, well, more kung fu in The Forbidden Kingdom, a pint-sized Chinese epic that answers the age-old question: what would happen if Jackie Chan and Jet Li were in a movie together? Answer: the white teenage boy would get the Asian girl. Based on an ancient Chinese legend - I believe it was called Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - The Forbidden Kingdom is a sort of adolescent version of those martial arts films where people fly through the air, kicking each other among the glorious bamboo forests and sending special-effects shock waves picturesquely across the screen. The fights were choreographed by the legendary Wo Ping (The Matrix) and the movie was directed by the unlikely Rob Minkoff (The Lion King), which gives you an idea of the tone of The Forbidden Kingdom: Crouching Puberty, Hidden Hormones. Michael Angarano stars as Jason, a kung fu-obsessed teenager in south Boston who discovers an ancient Chinese fighting staff in a pawnshop and is magically transported back to medieval China. There he becomes a key player in an ancient legend whose backstory is given by an itinerant warrior-scholar (Chan) who arrives drunk on a donkey, spouting Zen wisdom (He who speaks does not know. He who knows does not speak.) This is partly a tribute to Jackies seminal kung-fu Drunken Master films, and partly just cool. The story - and youd better sit down for a moment - concerns the famous battle between the Monkey King (Li), a roguish kung-fu immortal, and the evil Jade Warrior (Collin Chou), who tricks him into long-term ossification. The Monkey Kings magical fighting staff is kicked forward to south Boston, and only Jason can restore the balance to the kingdom, vanquish the Jade Warrior, rescue the Monkey King and, if things work out, get down with Sparrow (Crystal Liu), a dishy kung-fu girl who also has reasons for vengeance against the Jade Warrior. The Forbidden Kingdom races along nicely, but it stops every once in a while for little heart-to-hearts about dead parents, missing fathers and other flotsam and jetsam of superfluous subtext. Around this point, Jason gets to say one of the key lines in modern kung fu cinema - I cant free the Monkey King. I gotta get home - and were off on a mini-epic quest through the lush Middle Kingdom. Along the way, our hardy band picks up another member, the silent monk (Li again), and there are several creative fights involving fists, feet, elbows, magical fighting staffs, a whip and - in the person of sub-villain known as the witch (the magnificently named Li Bing Bing) - long, flowing locks of hair. Rating: three stars out of five

Geographic location: Boston, China

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