Posted on 22 July 2009 by Joe
Forbidden Kingdom came out in 2008 and I paid the money and went to the theater to see it. I mean two of the biggest names in the current kung fu movie genre (Jackie Chan and Jet Li) were finally together on screen, yet the fact that they are both well into their careers and both are established names world-wide, it was likely just a shameless plot to capitalize on their popularity and make a few bucks without having to spend time or money on writers or directors. Still, lack of plot and story has never been a deterrent for me when it comes to kung fu movies so, with some trepidation, I went and I was pleasantly surprised. Not as epic as it would have been if it had been made 10 years prior, it was still a very enjoyable movie to watch. The characters were fun and the story was pretty good. It had the silly “Crouching Tiger” wire fighting that I hate so much, but it wasn’t over the top and in general the fight scenes were entertaining.
The general idea behind the plot is that a kid obsessed with kung fu movies is sucked into a mystical ancient Asian land and charged with the task of returning a magical staff to the Monkey King (Jet Li) who was imprisoned 500 years ago by the Jade Warlord. It sounds cheesy (and really it is), but it never pretends to be something it isn’t. On his way he meets a drunken beggar (Jackie Chan), Sparrow (a pretty young girl whose family was killed by the Jade War Lord), and a monk (also Jet Li) who help him on his way and train him in kung fu.
All-in-all, it is a fun movie and worth watching at least once.
Posted on 06 July 2009 by Joe
Hello again. Ni hao. Konichiwa. An Nyoung. Welcome back. So I have spent a great deal of time this summer in deep meditation (and by deep meditation, I mean slacking on my blog). But now I’m back. And in honor of my triumphant return, I would like to tell you about my personal favorite movie in the kung fu genre, Jet Li’s Fist of Legend.
Jet Li pays homage to Bruce Lee through this remake of The Chinese Connection (1972). Though the plot is different (you should watch both) the premise is the same. In 1937 Japanese occupied Shanghai, the master of the Jing Wu school has been killed. Chen Zen (Jet Li) returns from boarding school in Japan to sort through the mystery behind his master’s death. We meet Chen Zhen in class in his Japanese boarding school as the local Kendo club invades the classroom to force the Chinese to leave. This film does a nice job of highlighting the racial tensions of the occupation. A sweet fight scene ensues in which Chen Zhen disables all of the kendo players and provides a physiology lesson by dislocating a variety of joints in each of his opponents. This just sets the tone for the rest of the movie. All of the fight scenes are epic, the characters are interesting and well developed, and there is even a (tolerable) love story so you can watch it with your significant other.
Jet pays his respects to Bruce in a few other ways as well. We see hints of Lee’s fighting style, especially in the final fight scene, Jet discusses some of Bruce’s fighting philosophy in his fight with Funakoshi, and he even does the cool back-flip kick popularized by Bruce.
All in all, this is just a great movie. It was released in 1994, before Jet Li gained a lot of popularity in the US, so it is not really well known, but if you like kung fu movies (and if you are reading this, you likely do) you should watch this movie. You’ll love it.
“That’s right, I’m Chen Zhen…the best.”