Ascent 152 – The Forbidden Kingdom

forbidden KThere are certain movies that I’m partial to that I love to watch over again. My son Christopher recently shared that he had a blast from the past and had watched The Forbidden Kingdom again. I had seen it once before and the story really resonated with me. After our conversation, it was stuck in my mind and I knew I had to watch it again. Memorial Day presented the perfect opportunity and I get to write about it today.

The movie stars two of the world’s greatest Kung Fu stars – Jackie Chan and Jet Li. Seeing them together in the same movie is a treat. The main character is Jason Tripitakas, played by Michael Angarano.

The story begins with the story of the Monkey King, one of the most loved icons of Chinese Legend. He was a powerful warrior and the Jade Army was unable to suppress him. After he crashed a party in heaven, the Jade Warlord challenged him to a duel. As they fought, it was evident that the Warlords fighting and magic skills were not enough to defeat the Monkey King and his staff. He tricked the Monkey King into setting his staff down and then imprisoned him with a spell, encasing him in stone. The Monkey King was able to send his staff out into the sky, so the Warlord would not acquire it.

Switch to Boston where Jason, a Kung Fu obsessed teen, explores a pawn shop in Chinatown. His attention is drawn to a staff, that the store owner said is waiting for a man to take it to it’s rightful owner. Jason is forced by a gang of punks to get the store owner to let them in and they proceed to rob him. Jason grabs the staff and runs with it. He gets up on the roof and realizes he has nowhere to go. As the punks surround him, the staff takes on an energy of it’s own and drags him off the roof. He awakens in ancient China, with the staff, and his journey begins.

He is besieged by the Jade Army and just as they were about to take the staff, the drunken Jackie Chan shows up and persuades them otherwise. Jason then learns about the legend of the Monkey King and realizes that the staff is what will free him – and that he is the one to take it to him.

The staff is taken from Jason by Jet Li and they catch up with him at a temple. After an amazing fight scene between Chan and Li, they realize they are on the same team and the staff is returned to Jason.

Both Li and Chan attempt to impart their Kung Fu mastery to Jason, confusing the heck out of him and creating conflict with each other.

They do secure a tight bond and are committed to the quest together. They rest at a Kung Fu school to allow Jackie Chan to heal from his wounds. Jason decides he didn’t want to wait and took off for the Warlord’s palace. The Jade Army allows him to pass and the Warlord pits him in a fight to the death with the white-haired witch.

Jet Li shows up and engages the Warlord in combat. As the fights wage on, it seems like the Warlord and the witch have the upper hand. Then, the door blows off and the school’s students enter, carrying Jackie Chan and the fight continues.

The staff must strike the Monkey King statue for him to be released. The Warlord attempts to stop him and then finds out he has the one weapon that can kill an immortal. The Warlord meets his demise and the Monkey King is freed.

As they gather, the Monkey King says to Jason “You have freed me, traveler. Now, go free yourself.” (My favorite line). Jason is then transported back to Boston where he is faced with the gang of punks again. The leader attacks him then finds out that now, Jason is a Kung Fu master and the tables are turned.

It’s a wonderful story of self-discovery, friendship, trust, courage and determination. The action is awesome and the humor buoys the story and helps keep the movie engaging.

Click here to see the movie trailer:


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