Sunday, April 20, 2008

Crouching Tiger, Spanking Monkey


I've been burned too often (I'm looking at you, The Tuxedo) by American-made Jackie Chan movies to have it be an automatic thatI'll be there opening weekend; but, largely because of Armond White's review [New York Press - ARMOND WHITE - Mash of the Titans], I did open the wallet and make the trek to check out The Forbidden Kingdom.

I was a little worried about five minutes in when the gang of toughs reminded me a little too much of the Rumble in the Bronx baddies. Luckily, the magical transport to the Middle Kingdom happened pretty quickly and the movie hit its stride. Jackie and Jet worked well together, the fight scenes were fun, and there were lots of nods to classic movies to give the geeks like me some chances to buff our Shaw Bros. merit badges earned for learning to recognize the animal styles before they're called out.

This Michael Angarano kid they found to be the student to Jackie and Jet though ... I read he had to learn kung fu to get the role, so I hoped that meant he could already act. He learned enough kung fu to convincingly play a novice but maybe they'd have been better served finding someone with a martial arts background who could learn to act. If he had any screen charisma at all, I'd be pulling for a sequel where Jackie's Lu Yan character continued to mentor him through another adventure.

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