The Forbidden Kingdom
Jason (Michael Angarano) is a Boston kid who isn't skilled in martial arts, but he loves kung-fu movies. Caught in the middle of a robbery at his favorite Chinatown pawn shop, Jason stumbles upon an ancient staff that will save his life and transport him to ancient-China for a quest to return the staff to its rightful owner, The Monkey King. This seemingly impossible task becomes easier as Jason acquires three companions: Lu Yan (Jackie Chan), a master of the martial arts that needs wine as his elixir to keep himself alive; Sparrow (Liu Yifei), a gorgeous young girl seeking vengence against the Jade Warlord (Collin Chou) who killed her family; and a monk (Jet Li) who has spent nearly all his life searching for the staff and the one who can return it to its owner. Pursued by a beautiful, yet deadly bounty hunter with long, white hair (Li Bing Bing), Jason must learn the true precepts of kung fu if he and his friends are to have a chance in accomplishing their quest and finding him a way back home.
This is just plain old kick 'em up fun! Michael Angarano is kinda dopey in a Shia LeBeouf kind of way, but if he is the weak spot in the film, its still a pretty strong film. There is nothing deep to the storyline like in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or House of Flying Daggers. This is just plain fun, with two cinematic martial arts masters at their best (albeit with a little wire-work, of course). All the action was choreographed by Yuen Wo-Ping (the man who turned Keanu Reeves into a martial arts master in The Matrix movies), and it was always exciting, yet never over-blown, or too long; I never looked at my watch, thinking, man, when is this scene going to end? In fact, I didn't look at my watch once during the movie, which is always a good sign. When the dust and bodies finally settle, The Forbidden Kingdom comes away with a grade of B+
Oh, and for the record, "Crystal" Liu Yifei is my new Chinese-crush.