Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Michael Angarano, Crystal Liu, Li Bing-bing, Collin Chou, Deshun Wang, Shaohua Yang, Morgan Benoit"/>
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With: Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Michael Angarano, Crystal Liu, Li Bing-bing, Collin Chou, Deshun Wang, Shaohua Yang, Morgan Benoit
Written by: John Fusco
Directed by: Rob Minkoff
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of martial arts action and some violence
Running Time: 113
Date: 04/04/2008

The Forbidden Kingdom (2008)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Jet Set

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In my little movie nerd world, the first onscreen teaming of Jackie Chan and Jet Li is a monumental event the rough equivalent of the moon landing. And The Forbidden Kingdom comes with a doozy of a scene in which the two old masters meet and fight over a magical staff in an abandoned temple. Yuen Woo-ping choreographed it, Chan gets to do his "drunken boxing" style, and it's just about perfect. It had me grinning like a sweet-toothed kid on Easter morning. It's too bad that the film isn't actually about Jackie or Jet; rather, it's about a bland, annoying, white kid (Michael Angarano) from Boston who is transported back through time to return the staff to its rightful owner. Whenever the film focuses on him (most of the time), the momentum sputters and stalls. Worse, we have to wade through a mushy romantic subplot between he and the lute-playing, dart-throwing Golden Sparrow (Crystal Liu). It's not clear whether writer John Fusco and director Rob Minkoff intended this as a family film; it's a pandering affair, with tacked-on morals and lessons. If it is, it's far too violent for kids. If not, it's too dumb for veteran kung-fu fans. Fortunately, the striking Li Bing-bing eventually turns up and evens the score as an evil, white-harried warrior girl bent on stopping the heroes from reaching their goal.

DVD Details: Lionsgate has released a two-disc DVD set for 2008. It might be worthy of the family video shelf, even if only for the one great fight scene between Chan and Li. Minkoff and writer John Fusco provide a commentary track. There are several short, generic featurettes, including one on "the dream team," Chan and Li. We also get bloopers (not as good as Chan's usual stuff), deleted scenes and trailers for other Lionsgate releases. The second disc contains the "digital copy" of the movie, which works on both Mac and PC. Also available on AskMen.com: The Forbidden Kingdom

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