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The Forbidden Kingdom (2008)

tomatometer

64

Average Rating: 6.1/10
Reviews Counted: 126
Fresh: 81 | Rotten: 45

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.

59

Average Rating: 5.7/10
Critic Reviews: 32
Fresh: 19 | Rotten: 13

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.

audience

60

liked it
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 326,109

My Rating

Movie Info

Legendary martial arts stars Jackie Chan and Jet Li come together onscreen for the first time ever in director Rob Minkoff's time-traveling take on the Monkey King fable that finds an American teen transported back to ancient China after wandering into a pawn shop and discovering the king's fighting stick. Once there, the adventurous teen joins an army of fierce warriors who have sworn to free their imprisoned king at all costs. In addition to appearing as the mythical Monkey King, Li assumes

PG-13,

Action & Adventure

John Fusco

Sep 9, 2008

$51.9M

Lionsgate - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (126) | Top Critics (32) | Fresh (81) | Rotten (45) | DVD (4)

One of the more entertaining movies we've seen in recent months.

April 21, 2008 | Comments (4)
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Every time the focus switches to Michael Angarano channeling his inner Ralph Macchio, The Forbidden Kingdom reminds you that it's primarily an act of occidental tourism.

April 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Time Out New York
Time Out New York
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It might take a Zen master to explain exactly what audience this is aimed at.

April 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Seattle Times | Comment (1)
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's difficult to resist, especially if you're a 12-year-old boy whose parents won't let you rent Once Upon a Time in China or the Kill Bill movies.

April 18, 2008 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle | Comment (1)
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

When Chan and Li match wits, each celebrates the other's presence. This isn't just a martial-arts display; it's generosity and camaraderie in motion.

April 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Salon.com
Salon.com
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Thanks to the two stars' disparate styles - the laser-like focus of Li and the whirlwind whimsy of Chan - The Forbidden Kingdom makes up for its flaws with plenty of eye-popping moments.

April 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Newsday
Newsday
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Surprisingly a lot of fun, with a simple good vs. evil plot, nice action sequences and a battle of the ages between two of the biggest martial art movie masters.

October 18, 2012 Full Review Source: Lyles' Movie Files
Lyles' Movie Files

If you're a big Jackie Chan and/or Jet Li fan this movie was made for you and you should go see it on the big screen once. But because of a complete lack of storytelling effort from the filmmakers, there's no reason to ever see it more than once.

March 22, 2011 Full Review Source: ComingSoon.net
ComingSoon.net

Kung fu fever and fluff mix it up with hordes of floating knights in shining armor with bad attitude, and just a little heavy on the dressing, courtesy of the costume department.

September 9, 2008 Full Review Source: NewsBlaze
NewsBlaze

Think of it as a kung fu fairy tale almost anyone can appreciate.

August 28, 2008 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

The first onscreen meeting of screen legends Jackie Chan and Jet Li is possibly reason enough to see this fantasy, whose extravagant martial arts sequences are choreographed by Woo-ping Yuen, whose signature was inked in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

July 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

... despite falling prey to some of the anticipate problems, it ultimately emerges victorious, perhaps wobbling a bit, but only in the giddy manner of the drunken master played by Chan.

July 4, 2008 Full Review Source: ESplatter
ESplatter

Fans of either martial artist will probably find enough to enjoy out of this, and will even like it more if they like 80's fantasy films.

June 8, 2008 Full Review Source: Sin Magazine
Sin Magazine

Fueled by Jackie Chan and Jet Li, this enjoyable romp has plenty of kick.

June 5, 2008 Full Review Source: Atlantic City Weekly
Atlantic City Weekly

An unapologetically old-fashioned fantasy ... solid enough entertainment for grown-ups, but something that many kids will absolutely adore.

June 3, 2008 Full Review Source: The Cinema Source

If The Forbidden Kingdom missteps, it's by assuming that its digitally enhanced stunts are more impressive than they are and, therefore, lavishing more attention on the kinetics than the story.

June 2, 2008 Full Review Source: Paste Magazine
Paste Magazine

Welcomed doses of slapstick and winking humor are sprinkled throughout rescuing the film from the occasionally heavy but never overbearing exposition.

May 25, 2008 Full Review Source: Spectrum (St. George, Utah)
Spectrum (St. George, Utah)

When I say the movie is cheesy, I am talking provolone, American cheese, Swiss cheese; cheesy.

May 17, 2008 Full Review Source: WJFK-FM (CBS Radio)
WJFK-FM (CBS Radio)

Yeah, it's a dopey kid's movie, but -- significant detail -- one that feels like it was actually written for kids ... Also, whenever things threaten to get too schlocky, this amazing villainess with a magic bullwhip shows up.

May 15, 2008 Full Review Source: The Stranger (Seattle, WA)

It would be little without its superb martial arts sequences, so its good to report that the movie isn't just filled with them, but that each fight was choreographed by Yuen Wo Ping.

May 13, 2008 Full Review Source: Bangor Daily News (Maine)
Bangor Daily News (Maine)

The story, which should be forbidden, keeps coming back for more. Whenever the plot pops up, from predictable love scenes to the villainess who hates men for no reason to the crypto-Confucian lines, you keep wishing for the next fist to fly.

May 8, 2008 Full Review Source: Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada) | Comments (2)
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)

Plenty of fun action sequences, but one wants more from a movie that contains this promising line: 'Summon the witch. The one born of wolves.'

May 6, 2008 Full Review Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

(Minkoff) botches the film's fantasy elements, saturating these segments with cheesy effects.

May 2, 2008

Jason's relationship with Golden Sparrow stays pretty locked in first gear, such that the movie might attend to kung fu%u2014sort of.

April 30, 2008 Full Review Source: PopMatters
PopMatters

All the martial arts movies have become clichés. This film is worse than stupid. Enough!

April 27, 2008 Full Review Source: Tolucan Times | Comments (5)
Tolucan Times

Fortunately, Minkoff has one talent many of his American predecessors have lacked: When Chan or Li is fighting, he knows how to hold the camera still.

April 27, 2008 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com
eFilmCritic.com

Audience Reviews for The Forbidden Kingdom

An American kung fu movie geek is entrusted with an ancient staff which transports him to a magical world where the mystical kung fu characters of his movies are real. The Forbidden Kingdom is a throwback to the wish fulfilment fantasies of the 1980s, sharing a lot in common with the likes of The Karate Kid, Big Trouble In Little China and even Indiana Jones. Making the hero of the film an American will no doubt irritate many and he is certainly the least interesting character in the film, but he is for the most part a figure of fun in the same way as Jack Burton was in Big Trouble. Jet Li strikes up a great buddy partnership with Jackie Chan who revives his Drunken Master routine, and their face off is impressive as you'd expect. And having grown up on cheesy 70s TV show Monkey, I'd have to say that he makes a brilliant Monkey King; I'd go as far as to say that I'd love to see a film version with him in the role. I would have to say that it is inevitably very formulaic and Yefei Liu's superfluous character only seems to be there to make sure that there's an even distribution of hotties. As a whole it's a funny, exciting family friendly fantasy with a knockabout charm that is clearly pandering to the Pirates Of The Shaolin crowd. But it works. Corny in an almost pleasing way and probably the best thing Jackie Chan has done since he first started bending over for the Hollywood buck, hating this film for the "homogenization of Chinese culture" is basically like calling Mr. Miyagi an evil traitorous sell out. Completely missing the point.
August 19, 2014
garyX
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

There are kid movies, and then there are kid movies, and this is one of the good ones. Make no mistake, Jackie Chan and Jet Li are the reasons to see this (doh!), their choreographic dramas flights of sheer acrobatic fantasy. I was smiling despite my years of superior cynical removal, a kid again, wishing I could do that. There's bad writing, sure, and you will groan out loud at some. But most every conversation leads to a fight scene so ... Some magic.
March 31, 2014
ApeneckFletcher

Super Reviewer

Hmmmm the usual curious mystic Honk Kong phooey chop sockey spiritual action flick based in the Orient. What can I say...it looks lovely with beautiful green vistas and magical splashes of light and sorcery...but the story is the usual weird and wonderful mess which is kinda unoriginal and boring. Its the usual wizards, martial arts, magic and evil henchmen by the numbers haha

The heroes (Jackie and Jet) train and make a martial arts expert outta of useless 80's lookin American kid who somehow travels to another world of mystic wizards and monkey kings and of course..manages to save it no worries, surprise surprise hehe.

There's nothing special here a tall really, its all been seen before and is rather cliched. Chan and Li are good together for sure but they need to do something more original.
February 9, 2012
phubbs1

Super Reviewer

    1. The Monkey King/the Silent Monk: But do not name it my friend, for it's like water; nothing can overcome water, yet it can overcome rock. It does not fight; it moves around the opponent, boneless, nameless. The true master dwells within. Only you can be free.
    – Submitted by Typhon Q (23 months ago)
    1. Old Hop/Lu Yan: Praying Mantis! Very good... for catching bugs! But not Tiger!
    – Submitted by Geraldo G (2 years ago)
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