"the scenery and costumes are at times awe-inspiring"
For martial arts fans across the world, the prospect of two of the genres finest ever proponents, Jet Li and Jackie Chan appearing in the same movie is surely a mouth-watering prospect. Having briefly scanned the press release before going into to film, I had expected another Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon/Hero/House of Flying Daggers clone, with subtitles and an awful lot of wire work - not necessarily a bad thing, but something that I had seen done many times before.
I was grateful therefore, that The Forbidden Kingdom moved away from the more art house productions mentioned above, and added an element of childish humour to the mix. If any are of you are young enough to remember the old show Monkey, which showed around lunch time on BBC 2 about 10 years back, The Forbidden Kingdom is essentially that, but on steroids.
The scenery and costumes are at times awe-inspiring. Ranging from expansive deserts, the bamboo forests and rice fields, the sheer scope and scale at times leaves you breathless. Similarly the extravagant costumes add to the visual beauty of the film.
But down to business. How well to Jet Li and Jackie Chan stack up? The answer. Oh My God! I swear at times I had to pick my chin up off the floor at the moves these guys were pulling off. Yes there was some wirework, but the sheer speed and skill of these two remarkable human beings was amazing to watch - this is real Kung Fu in the Bruce Lee style, not the ‘Komedy Fu' we're used to from films like Rush Hour.
It goes without saying that the acting is not great. But that was never this films M.O. What it gives you is a fantastical story, spectacular scenery, spectacular costumes and unbelievable fight scenes, and if you're willing to forgive it it's weaknesses, it's a great way to spend two hours.