Mystical ‘Forbidden Kingdom’ enchants with kung fu

Emerson Muzada

World renowned martial artists Jackie Chan and Jet Li joined forces for the very first time on the big screen to showcase their remarkable talents as masters of the “Forbidden Kingdom.”

The epic journey of “Forbidden Kingdom” takes us to a world where mystical and enchanting forces mold the legacy of the Monkey King, a playful monkey-looking warrior who giggles at every soldier he hits, played by Jet Li. Directed by Rob Minkoff, the genius who brought us our childhood favorite “The Lion King,” and written by John Fusco, who brought us “Young Guns” and “Hidalgo,” “Forbidden Kingdom” was produced by Casey Silver.

Esteemed and duly recognized choreographer, director and star in China, Woo-Ping Yuen took the challenging job as choreographer for the film. Woo-Ping is known for his choreography in “The Matrix” trilogy, “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon,” and Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill.” The producers also hired director of photography Peter Pau to take control of the cinematography, who also worked on “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.”

Jason, played by Michael Angarano, is a scruffy haired teenager from America whose infatuation with kung fu and martial arts movies lands him in trouble when he witnesses the murder of a Chinese elder at his favorite pawnshop. As Jason attempts to escape the murderers, he loses his balance and falls off the roof of a building. Descending in horror, Jason is magically warped into a mysterious vortex that takes him to ancient China. Dazed and confused on how he got to China, Jason realizes that he holds the Monkey King’s legendary staff given to him by Old Hop, the elder that was murdered.

Lu Yan, played by Jackie Chan, is the drunken immortal who protects and trains Jason in the kung fu arts. As they are chased by the warlord’s evil empire of soldiers, the two are accompanied by Golden Sparrow (Liu Yifei,) a young woman who seeks revenge from the evil Jade Warlord.

While traveling through a bamboo forest, Silent Monk (Jet Li) steals the sacred staff from Jason. Silent Monk claims himself as rightful owner to the staff, however Lu Yan disagrees. The two superstars engage in an extraordinary display of their fighting prowess, and battle it out for the staff. After an exhausting session full of jabs and round houses, the two warriors realize they need to fight side-by-side to defeat the Jade Warlord, and free the Monkey King.

Kung Fu enthusiasts will be dazzled by the performance of the two legendary masters of martial arts. The complex choreography, quick reflexes and daring stunts defineJackie Chan’s and Jet Li’s signature imprint on the movie. The quick jabs, blocks, and counter attacks will keep audiences guessing who’s hitting who, and the two superstar’s ability to display the difficult and thrilling moves looks effortless.

Cinematography extraordinaire, Peter Pau, took the task of landscaping the setting using tranquil and mesmerizing colors to capture the exquisite and exotic uniqueness of China. Pau chose the dampened colors of purple, green, and blue inspired from Van Gogh’s paintings. The excellent choice of colors, extravagant visuals of glistening waterfalls, pretty blossom plants, bamboo forests, and gigantic mountains gives viewers a sense of tranquility and appreciation for nature’s blessings.

Audiences won’t be disappointed with this epic journey alongside America’s favorite martial artists. Viewers can expect an amazing account of the two superstars as this being the first of many productions the two may collaborate on.

“Forbidden Kingdom” elevates the excitement of martial arts and redefines the culture behind the long lost stories of legendary Chinese tales.