Starring: Jackie Chan / Jet Li / Colin Chou / Michael Anagarano - 2008
Directed by :Rob Minkoff
Copyright © 2008 Relativity Media / Lionsgate The Weinstein Company
For years many wished for the chance that Jackie Chan would star alongside Jet Li, But whats amazing is that after so much time many thought it would never happen.
What's more so amazing is that it would be for a Western film shot in English and by a American screenwriter who initially wrote the story (which was based on the Monkey King Legend) for his son.
Now when it was announced that a project was under way ,Martial art fans were jumping for joy at the prospect of some Chan on Li action.But this was excitement was killed when the production company announced the director ( Rob Minkoff of Stuart Little fame). How wrong they were.
If ever a film had so much riding on it ,it must have been this one,not just the cost involved but the reputation of the two biggest on screen martial art stars alive today..So to be honest even though i was surprised at the named director ,i was still hopeful that it would be a good film.
Jackie Chan and Jet Li in the desert for real
Was i right in thinking this ,well hell yes .you see if i had to show a person who did not watch martial art films a film to convert them to the genre this would be it.Not just because of the fighting ,but because of the easy to get in to story which combines the Legend of the Monkey King and Karate Kid/Drunken Master and a bit of G I Samurai all in one.Then add the fact that the film was being location shot in China and that it would showcase China's amazing Vista's from Deserts to Rain Forests and Bamboo woodlands.(this really shows on BluRay).
Then add a cast of Colin Chou,Li BingBing,Lu Yifei and Michael Anagarano ( the new kid) with action direction by the legendary Yuen Woo Ping who had previously directed both Chan and Li in their early works and you have a match made in heaven.
The Drunken Immortal battles The Silent Monk
The film starts with the tale of the Monkey King (Jet Li)as he battles many adversaries.Then we shoot forward to present day America were Jason( Michael Anagarano) awakes from his sleep with Old Kung Fu flicks playing in the background.Then we are treated to a intro that pays homage to the old kung fu flicks and stars of old (this really sets you up for the film).
Now young Jason is a glutton for Old Kung Fu movies ,he revels in the stuff which he acquires from a local pawn shop owner in China Town.It is here that he will learn of the legend of the Monkey king as he is transported back in time after being forced to take part in a robbery at the pawnshop by the local thugs, which see's him deceive his friend and witness his friends shooting.
It will be here that a legendary Staff will rescue him and send him back to the land of legends.
A couple of Posters for the film
When Jason awakes to find himself In China some thousands of years ago he becomes bewildered by the fact that no one understands him even though they wish to talk to him ,When Soldiers arrive to harass the villagers Jason is spotted and chased (as any Gwei-lo would be in ancient China). Getting cornered just out side the village he is saved by a Scruffy looking drunkard on a donkey who dispatches the soldiers with ease.When this drunk approaches him and speaks Chinese ,Jason just replies ''i Don't understand'' But the Drunkard (Jackie Chan) keeps speaking Chinese with Jason saying '' no understanding'' with the reply coming from the Drunk ''That's because your not listening'' In English. What this accomplishes is that all of a sudden Jason can understand Chinese because he has taken time to listen ,it also makes you think cor i understand Chinese ( you don't but the scene is set).
Anyway Jason accompanies the Drunkard ''Lu Yan'' to a eating establishment where Lu Yan explains who he is and finds out about Jason and the Staff he is carrying.Lu Yan tells Jason about the legend of the Monkey King and how 500 years ago the evil Jade warlord tricked the Monkey King in to doing battle with him because he did not like his Character as he felt he was humiliated in front of the Jade Emperor (the all seeing and ruler of the land ,who left the land in the Jade Emperor's control whilst he went on his 500 year meditation),the Jade Warlord used Magic to turn the Monkey King to stone during a honorable battle ,but not before the Monkey King had a chance to banish his Magical staff to the lands out of reach of the Jade Warlord.
Now it is this staff that Jason Carries with him and he is told of legend of a warrior that will come to free the imprisoned Monkey King by smashing his stone prison with the Staff to set him free.Thing is the Monkey King's stone entrapment is within the Jade palace and the chosen one must break in to do this deed.
Whilst at this venue soldiers come storming in and Jason is forced to fight with Lu Yan to escape being slightly aided by a young girl called Sparrow.This fight showcases some classic Chan as he demonstrates his Drunken Kung Fu along with some more Modern moves i noticed within the scene but all came together in a fight scene that lasted quite some time ( buy now i new this was going to be Awesome).
Upon escaping the three comrades ,Jason Lu and Sparrow get to know each other ,Lu being one of the Immortals as long as he has his Drink and Sparrow being a young girl set on vengeance after the Jade Warlord had killed her family.But with Jason's inept fighting (he does not know kung fu) even though he recites countless movies and moves from 70's Martial Flicks.It's with this that Lu finds the task hopeless for Jason to return the staff to it's owner(Monkey King). Sleeping that night Jason awakes to find what seems ,he is all alone then at the corner of his eye he spots a Mysterious character on horse back who charges at him stealing the staff ,Lu and Sparrow return to Jason's surprise and when they discover the staff is gone they fear all is lost.
They trace the Mystery man to a temple where Lu Enters to retrieve the staff only to be confronted by a Monk (Jet Li).This is the first time you see Jackie and Jet on screen together and it's a moment to see,what follows is the fight we have all been waiting for as Lu battles the Silent Monk for the staff.
This fight is film heaven in my book as Lu displays his Drunken fist against The Monks Wushu ,then we are treated as the two changes styles going through the animal styles and back again ,with Chan's evasive body bending maneuvers and Li's stylistic Kung Fu what we have here is one of the best screen fights of the past Ten years.Along with the comic genius of Jackie and Jet's straight laced cool stare it makes for a thrilling view with some comic elements to spruce things up a bit.
At the end when all is square with the group and the monk is willing to help Jason with his quest (your find out why later) They set off ,but with Jason's lack of Kung Fu the two masters decide they will teach him the ways.This is where the film takes it's Karate Kid /Drunken Master scenario from as Lu and The Monk ''Su Wukong'' compete to train Jason with hilarious results and at Jason's cost of Humility.
The Monk gets the band to follow him in a desperate bid to free the Monkey King ,he drags them through the Gobi desert and and as all hope seems lost they spot in the distance the lands they have been looking for.
Meanwhile the jade Warlord has dispatched the evil White Haired Witch (Li Bingbing) to track the group down with a promise of Immortality if she succeeds.When they are confronted by her and her army in a field of Blossom (When they shot this the field was bare they had a hundred people gluing Blossom on the twigs prior to shooting) A battle ensues and in the commotion Lu is shot in the back with a poison arrow from the witches Bow.
With Lu injured and in need of his elixir (Wine) they travel to a temple where help could be ,but as one of the immortals ,Lu's only Savior is the elixir of immortality which is within the walls of the Jade palace. Against The Monks wishes Jason goes it alone only to be confronted by the Jade Warlord and the White haired Witch with whom he must fight ,but to no avail and at the last moment of his life he is saved by the Monk and Sparrow who storm in to fight alongside him ,behind him are the temple monks carrying a Injured Lu ,and in a battle for the elixir between Jason and the witch and Sparrow the elixir finds it's way to Lu who gulps it down and springs back to life to join battle with his friends.
Now we have all our heroes fighting to get the Staff to the Monkey King who is in the center of the room bound in stone ,with martial arts moves flying form all along with some well placed special effects this is a tour de'force of a battle with as all combatants seem to fight each other ,with Lu concentrating on the evil White Haired witch and The Monk and Jason trying to smash the Jade Warlord and free the Monkey King ,but it is Sparrow that gets the raw deal as her vengeance on the Jade Warlord backfire's when his magic turns her attack back at her and stopping her dead.
It is after this that Jason finds his courage to fight to free the Monkey King in a frenetic battle Jason and The Monk fight the Jade Warlord and at the right moment Jason smashes the stone statue of the Monkey King ,thus freeing him as the Monkey King (Jet) appears the Monk vanishes in to thin air leaving behind only a hair which finds it' way back to the Monkey King.It is the the Monkey King who then battles Jade Warlord (Colin Chou) and comes out on top.
With the Monkey King Free ,the land in piece and the Jade Emperor back on the scene to send Jason back home at his request,Jason must now go back to his time and confront the thugs that where chasing him before he was whisked away to the far off land.But this time he is a changed man ,he not only watches Kung Fu he KNOW'S IT.With hand on heart he confronts his own demons and brings down the Thugs and saves the old Pawn shop owner Mr.Hop ,who replies to young Jason when he asks if he's OK ''don't worry I'm immortal you know''. Then he meets a young girl who praises his braveness ,who smiles and retreats to her shop '' Chinese gifts ''Sparrows'
Lu Yifei as Sparrow
With a ending of Jason on a rooftop practicing his Pole form the credits role and you would have seen one of the most important Martial flicks of the last Ten Years.
Now being BluRay the whole film is just marvelous to watch with it's locations and colors which grab hold of you ,the trees and fields jump out at you and you have a sense of the scope of the China ,It truly is China in your living room .
Along with a list of features from outtakes,Bloopers reels Commentary's and Interviews with the writer and Director and a look at the legend of the eight Gods .The disc will keep you occupied for some time and your bound to watch the film again soon.Put on top of that you can pick up the BluRay disc for as little as £7.00 it's a bargain too.
Forget what the others say if you like martial arts /fantasy / and being entertained this is one hell of a film to watch ,and who better to review a Martial arts flick then a Martial artist .This is The Snake signing of.
Score out of Ten = 9
Trailer for the Film
Interview with Jackie Chan
Jet and Jackie Film the Fight