Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sidebar:

Just watched The Forbidden Kingdom. Jet Li and Jackie Chan in the same flick.

You know, I'm pretty sure they made this entire movie just for the scene where the two beat the crap out of each other in the temple. *grin* Good times, that. I'd pay to watch it again, just for that part.

Admittedly, the rest was pretty darn good, too.

It wasn't as Disney as I was half-expecting. People died, both on-screen and off. One character uses a soldier's own sword, still in the soldier's hands, to slit the soldier's throat. Very little blood, but definitely not Disney.

Much ass-kickery, which rocks. A little mysticism, which is hella cool. The Monkey King, which will always get my attention, heh. Yeah, me and monkeys. They just seem to abound when I'm around.

And there was an actual story involved, which is always good. Oh, man, and the opening credits? Astoundingly well done. I'd love that bit as a screensaver. Of course, I'd never get anything done because I'd just sit there watching the comic book-like images flashing in pseudo-3D all day, but hey. Way cool.

But when it really comes down to it, while the movie was great in its own right, it's the first collaboration of two of the most well-known names in Americanized martial arts films. You really can't go wrong, there.

And Collin Chou makes me pretty happy, too. He has such presence. He should always play an emperor or something regal like that. Seraph in the Matrix movies was cool, but in my humble opinion, vastly underused. And as kid Jet Li's father in Fearless, he was excellent and dutifully awe-inspiring. But again, such a short part. He needs more lead roles.

Jet Li and Jackie Chan were spot-on, too. I like that their main fight was dirty. They each took hard hits, for all that they were masters. A couple of rough tumbles for landings. A few grunts and groans. To be honest, there were a couple of hits that look like they really landed. Like they weren't pulled. You gotta wonder about the outtakes for this flick -- if there'll be a bunch of just sparring between them. Heh.

I've always thought them both astounding for being able to not only do all of their martial arts work but to be able to act in another language. That can't be easy. I mean, Jackie Chan admits it freely in outtakes. And in Jet Li's first few American movies, he didn't even speak English. That's so impressive to me. I mean, sure, I could speak enough German to save my life, though I no longer consider myself fluent. I know lots of Japanese potty words. Quite a few French and Spanish ones. A few common phrases in Spanish, too. An Italian curse or two. Even a Chinese one. Heh.

But enough to act? To emote, to put emphasis on the right syllables to get the correct response? No way. That's impressive.

Anyway, all actor stroking aside, the flick is a great watch for those who have both a fondness for old kung fu flicks and an admiration for the newer wire-work-and-CGI-type mystical flicks. There are a few obvious effects shots -- the white witch's whip, to name just one -- but they don't really detract, considering all the wire work in certain scenes. And the chi energy is especially well done -- a fact to which I hope Steven Chow will pay attention when he goes to FX the DragonBall movie.

Oi, but don't get me started there. As far as I'm concerned, that whole thing should be CGI instead of live action. Ack! No soap box!

So yeah, go see Forbidden Kingdom. All sorts of good fun for traditionalists and newer kung fu-ers alike. Have fun. I know I did.

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