Movie Review: Forbidden Kingdom

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If you like to dream, have elaborate fantasies and like martial arts, then you will enjoy "The Forbidden Kingdom."

The movie starts out with a dream sequence prologue of a martial arts expert known as the Monkey King (Jet Li) battling heavenly warriors. The Monkey King has a magic staff and cannot be defeated.

A young teen, Jason Tripitikas (Michael Angarano), awakens and we see his room plastered with kung fu movie posters and DVDs of martial arts action movies. Jason visits a pawnshop in Boston's Chinatown to check out the latest kung fu DVDs. He visits with the shop's elderly owner Hop (Jackie Chan) and then goes through some of the DVDs but gets bored and notices a door ajar in the back of the shop and sees a golden staff hung on the wall. Hop closes the door to the back room and tells Jason the staff needs to be delivered to its rightful owner.

On his way home a local gang attacks Jason and forces him to take them back to the shop so they can rob the old man. Using Jason as a shield the gang forces their way into the shop and tear the old man's living quarters apart looking for money. Hop gets angry and tries to fight back using the staff, but the leader shoots him in the chest.

Jason grabs the staff and runs to the top of the building where the gang corners him. Before he can be shot, Jason is dragged off the roof by the staff, travels back in time and finds himself in ancient China.

Jason finds himself in a small village that is soon attacked by Jade Warriors. They see him with the golden staff and pursue him on horseback. As they are about to attack him and take the staff, a Drunken Immortal, Lu Yan (Jackie Chan), wanders into the fray and fights the warriors, grabs Jason and they flee on one of the horses.

Lu Yan explains the story of the staff to Jason. The Jade Warriors find the two fugitives and a fight ensues during which they are helped in their escape by Orphaned Warrior, Golden Sparrow (Liu Yi Fei). Golden Sparrow has vowed vengeance on the Jade Warlord for killing her family.

The Warlord learns that the magical staff has been found. He dispatches his bounty hunter/assassin to get it back for him.

Meanwhile, back in the bamboo forest, a mysterious stranger, Silent Monk (Jet Li), steals the staff from Jason. Lu Yan, Golden Sparrow and Jason trace the thief to an old abandoned temple.

Silent Monk and Lu Yan take time along this journey to teach Jason kung fu. Sure, what takes mortal man decades to master can be done in a short space of several days on a journey through China in search of the heavenly palace -- Sure ... Oops, I forgot, this is a fantasy -- movie, entertainment -- for our edification. I wasn't edified, I was disappointed.

The movie was too long, too round about, and had too many fight sequences that were too fantastic.

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