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The Forbidden Kingdom ( ; working: The J & J Project) is a 2008 American martial arts-adventure film from Lionsgate and The Weinstein Company directed by Rob Minkoff. It is the first film to star together two of the best-known names in the martial arts film genre, Jackie Chan and Jet Li. The action sequences were choreographed by Yuen Woo-ping.

The film is distributed in the United Statesmarker through Lionsgate and The Weinstein Company, and through The Huayi Brothers Film & Taihe Investment Company in Chinamarker. It was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the US on September 9, 2008 and in the UK on November 17, 2008.


South Boston teenager Jason Tripitikas (Michael Angarano) awakens from a dream of a battle between the Monkey King Sun Wukong (Jet Li) and heavenly soldiers amongst clouds. He is then shown to be a fan of kung fu films; posters cover the walls of his room, and his television displays the film Monkey Goes West (1966). After getting dressed, he visits a pawn shop in downtown Bostonmarker's Chinatown to buy wuxia DVDs. There, Jason converses with Hop (a prosthetics-laden Jackie Chan), the shop's elderly owner, and, while exploring the shop, is drawn to a golden staff, which Hop tells him is to be delivered to its rightful owner.

On his way home, Jason is attacked by local bully Lupo (Morgan Benoit) and cronies, who force him to return to the pawn shop at night so that Hop will open the door, allowing the bullies to steal his money. Hop tries to attack the thieves with the staff, but is shot by Lupo. Hop, wounded, tells Jason that Jason must now deliver the staff to its rightful owner. Jason takes the staff and runs from the thieves. On top of a building, he is surrounded by the bullies, as Lupo fears that Jason will expose the shooting to the police and intends to kill him to ensure his silence. Before Lupo can shoot, Jason is pulled off the roof by the staff and falls backwards onto the asphalt.

When Jason wakes up, he is in ancient China, near a village which is soon attacked by armored warriors who notice his staff and try to take it from him. He is rescued by the inebriated traveling scholar Lu Yan (Jackie Chan), a supposed 'immortal', who is surprisingly alert and agile even when drunk. Later that night, seated in a teahouse, Lu Yan tells Jason of a legend of the Monkey King, who caused havoc at the banquet held by the Immortals on Five Elements Mountainmarker celebrating the Jade Emperor's forthcoming 500-year period of meditation. The Jade Emperor took a liking to the Monkey King and awarded him a heavenly title, much to the chagrin of the Jade Warlord (Collin Chou), who was the Emperor's general. The Emperor then left the Jade Warlord to rule by Mandate of Heaven before retreating to his period of seclusion. The Warlord then challenged the Monkey King to a duel to display their fighting and magical abilities. After tricking the Monkey King into setting aside his magic staff Ruyi Jingu Bang, the Warlord changed him into a statue of himself, whereupon the Monkey King threw the staff beyond the Warlord's grasp. Lu Yan ends the tale by stating a prophecy in which a person known as the "Seeker" will find the staff and free the Monkey King. Lu Yan and Jason are then attacked by the Jade Warlord's soldiers, from whom they are rescued by Golden Sparrow (Liu Yifei), a young girl who refers to herself in the third person. She reveals that her family was murdered by the Jade Warlord, against whom she has therefore sworn revenge.

The Jade Warlord, learning that his men have seen the staff, sends the young white-haired witch Ni Chang (Li Bingbing) to retrieve it in exchange for the elixir of immortality. When Jason wakes the next morning, he is attacked by a person dressed in white clothes, who takes the staff from him. Jason, Lu Yan, and Sparrow follow the man's trail to a temple. There, Lu Yan meets the Silent Monk (Jet Li), who refuses to give him the staff. The two fight until the Silent Monk realizes that Jason is the staff's prophesied Seeker and joins the protagonists in their quest to free the Monkey King.

As the four travel to Five Elements Mountain, Lu Yan and the Silent Monk teach Jason kung fu. After crossing a desert, they encounter Ni Chang and her henchmen. After a fight, the four manage to escape with the staff; but Lu Yan is mortally injured by Ni Chang's arrow. The protagonists take refuge in a monastery, where they find out that the Jade Warlord's elixir of immortality will heal Lu Yan, who, though immortal, will perish without his wine which has run out. Jason, desperate to help Lu Yan, goes alone to the Warlord's palace to exchange the staff for the elixir.

At the palace, Jason learns that the Jade Warlord has promised the elixir to Ni Chang in exchange for the staff; but given that Jason has brought it, he is commanded to fight Ni Chang to the death, earning the elixir by his victory. Although Jason has developed proficiency in martial arts, holding his own against the Witch, the more experienced Ni Chang eventually overwhelms him. The Jade Warlord taunts Jason for his foolishness, preparing to decapitate him. Jason is saved by the Silent Monk and Sparrow, who arrive while Lu Yan is carried behind them by monks from the monastery. The Silent Monk duels the Jade Warlord to protect the staff while Sparrow fights Ni Chang. During the fight, Jason seizes the elixir and throws it to Lu Yan, who drinks it and becomes immortal, regaining his vitality. Lu Yan then fights Ni Chang on a balcony. The Silent Monk is mortally wounded during his battle with the Jade Warlord and throws the staff to Jason. Jason takes the staff and shatters the Monkey King's statue form, freeing him from his imprisonment. The Silent Monk dies of his injuries and becomes a golden hair, revealing him to be a magical human familiar created by the Monkey King immediately prior to his imprisonment. The fight between the Monkey King and the Jade Warlord begins.

After a long battle, Lu Yan dispatches Ni Chang by making her fall from the top of the mountain. Sparrow tries to kill the Jade Warlord with her magical jade dart, but is fatally wounded when he deflects it. Jason later kills the Jade Warlord with the dart when the Monkey King shoves him toward Jason. The Jade Warlord then falls into a lava pit that he created earlier and disintegrates. Jason then attends Sparrow, who thanks him in first person before dying. He is subsequently praised by the newly returned Jade Emperor for fulfilling the prophecy. As his reward for his courage, Jason chooses to be returned to his native time and place.

Jason then wakes in 21st-century Boston at the very moment and location of his earlier fall. He is attacked by Lupo, but defeats him, frightens off the other bullies, and alerts the police. Hop survives his wound and reveals, to Jason alone, that he is immortal.

Before Jason leaves the scene, he sees a girl who is the reincarnation of Golden Sparrow, and who coincidentally works in a souvenir shop named Golden Sparrow. Jason, surprised but delighted to see her, speaks with her briefly and goes home, where he practices his kung fu on the roof with a staff as the Monkey King begins his Journey to the West.


Actor Role
Jackie Chan Lu Yan, the Drunken Immortal/Hop, the pawn shop owner
Jet Li Sun Wukong (called) the Monkey King/The Silent Monk
Michael Angarano Jason Tripitikas, the Traveler
Collin Chou The Jade Warlord
Liu Yifei Golden Sparrow, the Chinatown girl
Li Bingbing Ni-Chang, the White-Haired Witch/Assassin

Production details


While the character Sun Wukong came from Wu Cheng'en's famous classical novel Journey to the West, in an interview with Screen Power magazine, actor Collin Chou denied that the plotline would be related to the novel. The details of the plot were devised by screenwriter John Fusco along with actor Jet Li. Li explains,

In a behind the scenes article he wrote for Kung Fu Magazine, screenwriter John Fusco also stated he derived the surname for the Jason Tripitikas character from “the wandering monk, Tripitaka, from Journey to the West”.


Production began in early May 2007 in the area around the Gobi Desert in China. Before filming began, the entire cast did a costume fitting and a script read through, certain dialogues were altered to suit the different actors' English speaking abilities; this was due to the majority of the cast having English as their second language. Chan described the first day of shooting as "very relaxing" because the shots only required drama and walking, with no action.. When the two martial arts veterans (Chan and Li) did film action scenes together for the first time, they both expressed how easy it was to work with one another. Chan explained:

Filming finished on August 24, 2007, and the film went into post-production on September 29, 2007.

Critical reception

The response to The Forbidden Kingdom, by both critics and audiences, has generally been positive. As of September 1, 2008, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 64% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 121 reviews — with the consensus being "Great fight scenes, but too much filler". Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 57 out of 100, based on 26 reviews — indicating mixed or average reviews.

DVD and Blu-ray releases

The Forbidden Kingdom was released on DVD and Blu-ray September 9, 2008. It sold about 1,199,593 units which translated to revenue of $22,921,609, bringing its worldwide total to $151,758,670.

It is sold on single disc and two-disc special editions. The single disc edition has no extras but contains widescreen and full screen presentations of the film. The special edition includes a commentary by director Rob Minkoff, deleted scenes with commentary, featurettes (The Kung Fu Dream Team, Dangerous Beauty, Discovering China, Filming in Chinawood, and Monkey King and the Eight Immortals), a "Previsualization Featurette" with commentary by director Rob Minkoff and a blooper reel. In addition to these extras, the Blu-ray release contains a digital copy.

Box office performance

The Forbidden Kingdom grossed a total of $127,906,624 worldwide — $52,075,270 in the United States and $75,831,354in other territories. In its opening weekend in the United States and Canada, the film grossed $21,401,121 in 3,151 theaters, ranking #1 at the box office opening weekend and averaging $6,792 per theater.

See also


  1. Lionsgate has keys to the 'Kingdom' - Hollywood Reporter
  2. FORBIDDEN FIST: The Making of THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM By: John Fusco (screen writer of the film)
  3. Collin Chou to star as evil warlord - Variety Asia
  4. The Jackie Chan / Jet Li Project Will Tell a Journey to the West-Inspired Story?
  5. Jackie Chan's diary from April 26 - 29, 2007 Retrieved on February 26, 2007
  6. Jackie Chan's diary from May 1 - 5, 2007 Retrieved on February 26, 2007
  7. IMDB Page for Forbidden Kingdom

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