The Forbidden Kingdom
|The Forbidden Kingdom|
|Directed by||Rob Minkoff|
|Produced by||Casey Silver|
|Written by||John Fusco|
|Music by||David Buckley|
|Edited by||Eric Strand|
|Box office||$128 million|
The Forbidden Kingdom (Chinese: 功夫之王: Gong Fu Zhi Wang (Mandarin) or Gung Fu Ji Wong (Cantonese) and translated King of Kung Fu (English); Working title: The J & J Project) is a 2008 wuxia film written by John Fusco, and directed by Rob Minkoff, and starring Jackie Chan and Jet Li. Loosely based on the 16th century novel Journey to the West, it is the first film to co-star Jackie Chan and Jet Li. The action sequences were choreographed by Yuen Woo-ping.
The film is distributed in the United States through Lionsgate and The Weinstein Company, and through The Huayi Brothers Film & Taihe Investment Company in China. It was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the US and Hong Kong on September 9, 2008 and the United Kingdom on November 17, 2008. Rotten Tomatoes' critical consensus praises the fight scenes but says the film has too much filler. The Forbidden Kingdom grossed $128 million against a budget of $55 million.
South Boston teenager Jason Tripitikas is a fan of martial arts films and awakens from a dream of a battle between the Monkey King and celestial soldiers in the clouds. He visits a pawn shop in Chinatown to buy wuxia DVDs and discovers a golden staff. On his way home, Tripitikas is harassed by some hooligans, whose leader Lupo attempts to use him to help them rob the shop-owner Hop, who is shot by Lupo. Hop tells Tripitikas to deliver the staff to its rightful owner and Tripitikas flees with the staff. He is cornered on the rooftop before being pulled off the roof by the staff.
When Tripitikas regains consciousness, he finds himself in a village in ancient China that is under attack by armored soldiers. The soldiers see his staff and attempt to seize it. He is saved by the inebriated traveling scholar Lu Yan, a supposed "immortal," who remains alert and agile even when drunk. Lu tells him the story of the rivalry between the Monkey King and the Jade Warlord. The Warlord tricked the King into setting aside his magic staff, Ruyi Jingu Bang, and transformed the immortal into a stone statue, but the King cast his staff far away before the transformation. Lu ends the tale with a prophecy about a "Seeker" who will find the staff and free the King. Just then, they are attacked by the Warlord's men again, but manage to escape with the help of Golden Sparrow, a young woman whose family was murdered by the Warlord.
Meanwhile, the Warlord, upon learning about the staff, sends the witch Ni-Chang to help him retrieve it in exchange for the elixir of immortality. Tripitikas, Lu and Sparrow meet the Silent Monk who joins them in their quest to free the King. As the four travel to Five Elements Mountain, Lu and the Monk teach Tripitikas kung fu along the way. After crossing a desert, they encounter Ni Chang. Ni Chang offers to return Tripitikas home in exchange for the staff. When Tripitikas refuses, a battle ensues and Lu is badly wounded. Tripitikas's team escapes and takes refuge in a monastery, where they learn that Lu is not an immortal as he claimed to be, and only the Warlord's elixir can save his life. Tripitikas goes to the Warlord's palace alone to exchange the staff for the elixir.
Because the Warlord can only give the elixir to only one of them, he orders Tripitikas to duel Ni Chang - the winner will therefore receive the elixir. Sparrow, the Silent Monk, and the monks from the monastery arrive to join the battle. While the witch is distracted, Tripitikas manages to grab the elixir and tosses it to Lu, who drinks it and recovers. The Monk passes the staff to Tripitikas, who uses it to smash the King's statue. The King is freed and the Silent Monk is revealed to be one of the King's clones. After another long battle where Ni Chang and Sparrow are killed, the Warlord is eventually stabbed by Tripitikas and falls into a lava pit to his death. The Jade Emperor, having returned from his meditation, praises Tripitikas for fulfilling the prophecy and allows him for one wish, which he asks to return home.
Tripitikas finds himself back in the present. He overpowers Lupo and drives the other hooligans away. Hop survives being shot and claims that he is immortal (hinting that he is actually Lu). Before the film ends, Jason is delighted to meet a woman who resembles Sparrow. Tripitikas continues honing his kung fu skills while Lu narrates the King's search for truth.
- Jackie Chan as Lu Yan / Hop, the pawn shop owner
- Jet Li as the Monkey King / Silent Monk
- Michael Angarano as Jason Tripitikas
- Liu Yifei as Golden Sparrow / Chinatown Girl
- Collin Chou as the Jade Warlord
- Li Bingbing as Ni Chang
- Deshun Wang as the Jade Emperor
While the character Sun Wukong came from Wu Cheng'en's famous classical novel Journey to the West, in an interview with Screen Power magazine, actor Collin Chou denied that the plotline would be related to the novel. The details of the plot were devised by screenwriter John Fusco along with actor Jet Li. Li explains,
The screenwriter is a good friend of mine and we have been sparring partners for the past three years. I was among the first to get hold of the story and later we were joined by Jackie and others. The screenwriter and I discussed how to turn the story into a fantasy and dream-like film. He is a superb screenwriter and has been learning Chinese martial arts for more than 10 years. He has roughly put across in the film some of my basic understanding of martial arts and principles of Buddhism.
In a behind the scenes article he wrote for Kung Fu Magazine, screenwriter John Fusco also stated he derived the surname for the Jason Tripitikas character from "the wandering monk, Tripitaka, from Journey to the West".
The Golden Sparrow character was inspired by Cheng Pei-pei's character Golden Swallow from the Shaw Brothers film Come Drink with Me. Before trying to kill the Jade Warlord, Golden Sparrow refers to the 1966 film, telling him to "Come drink with" her.
Production began in early 1 May 2007 in the area around the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. Before filming began, the entire cast did a costume fitting and a script read through, certain dialogues were altered to suit the different actors' English speaking abilities; this was due to the majority of the cast having English as their second language. Chan described the first day of shooting as "very relaxing" because the shots only required drama and walking, with no action. When the two martial arts veterans (Chan and Li) did film action scenes together for the first time, they both expressed how easy it was to work with one another. Chan explained:
I have not worked with someone whom I’m comfortable with, in terms of movements, rhythm and natural reactions, in the last 10 years. I have done many fight scenes with others but there were usually more than 10 takes, which is a waste of time as the person may forget his moves and unnecessary injuries. When I fought with Jet, our actions were quick. We also didn’t have to do the same stunt over 20 times.
Filming finished on August 24, 2007, and the film went into post-production on September 29, 2007.
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 63% of 131 surveyed critics gave the film positive reviews; the average rating is 6/10. The consensus reads: "This hotly-anticipated pairing of martial arts legends Jackie Chan and Jet Li features dazzling fight scenes but is weighed down by too much filler." Metacritic reports the film has an average score of 57 out of 100 based on 26 reviews, indicating mixed or average reviews.
It is sold on single disc and two-disc special editions. The single disc edition has no extras but contains widescreen and full screen presentations of the film. The special edition includes a commentary by director Rob Minkoff, deleted scenes with commentary, featurettes (The Kung Fu Dream Team, Dangerous Beauty, Discovering China, Filming in Chinawood, and Monkey King and the Eight Immortals), a "Previsualization Featurette" with commentary by writer Fusco and director Minkoff, and a blooper reel. In addition to these extras, the Blu-ray release contains a digital copy.
Box office performance
The Forbidden Kingdom grossed a total of $127,906,624 worldwide — $52,075,270 in the United States and $75,831,354 in other territories. In its opening weekend in the United States and Canada, the film grossed $21,401,121 in 3,151 theaters, ranking No. 1 at the box office opening weekend and averaging $6,792 per theater.
- Jackie Chan filmography
- Jet Li filmography
- List of American films of 2008
- List of martial arts films
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