For many years, martials arts cinema fans have had a collective fantasy: a film starring both Jackie Chan and Jet Li. Rumors about a collaboration had been swirling around for just about forever, but the topic was academic — until it was announced that the two had finally reached a point in their schedules where they could join forces for The Forbidden Kingdom.
But I think it’s safe to say that any rejoicing was immediately tempered by two things.
First, while both are still incredible to watch onscreen, Chan and Li aren’t getting any younger, and both realize it. For example, Chan has stated, on numerous occasions, his desire to do less action because his body just can’t handle it anymore. So there’s certainly some question as to whether or not the onscreen pairing will live up to expectations.
And second, and perhaps more troubling, The Forbidden Kingdom is a Hollywood film. I don’t want to sound off on some anti-Tinsel Town screed, but let’s face it, Hollywood doesn’t exactly have a great track record when it comes to Asian-related films. Sure, those Rush Hour films might be entertaining, but is that really the caliber you want to shoot for when you’ve got both Jackie Chan and Jet Li in your cast.
All that being said, I am really digging the trailers for the film. Not only do they boast some impressive-looking scenery (the film was shot on location in the Gobi Desert) and effects, but some of the action sequences remind me of such classic HK action/fantasy fare as The Bride With White Hair, The Heroic Trio, and Butterfly & Sword.
And yes, the sight of Chan and Li going mano y mano does look pretty cool, regardless of how wire and FX-laden their fighting might be.
The Forbidden Kingdom comes out in theatres on April 18, 2008.
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I've also written for Christ and Pop Culture, ScreenAnarchy, Filmwell, and Christian Research Journal. I pay the bills by creating beautiful user interfaces and websites for Firespring and Red Bicycle.