Long ago, in the Forbidden Kingdom, there was a Monkey King who wreaked havoc at the Jade Emperor and Empress's banquet. This bothered only the Jade Warrior, who challenged the Monkey King to a duel. He tricked the Monkey King to separate from his golden staff and turned him into stone. It was prophesied that a mystery will come and return the staff to the Monkey King and release him from his stone prison.
Teenager Jason Tripitikas was a gutless kid with an addiction with kung fu. He's friends with an elderly Chinese pawn shop owner Hop. When Lupo, Jason's bully, found out about this relationship, he bullied Jason into helping him steal money from Hop's shop. During the robbery, Hop got shot and gave Jason a golden staff that Jason was supposed to return to its rightful owner. Lupo intended to get rid of Jason to shut him up, but Jason fell and got knocked out with the staff in his hands.
Jason woke up in ancient China in a land called the Forbidden Kingdom. There he found his destiny to return the long lost golden staff to the Monkey King. To aid him in his journey is Lu Yan, one of the Drunken Immortal, and Sun Wukong, a monk whose life's mission is to find the staff seeker and help him return the staff to the Monkey King. Jason's love interest is the Golden Sparrow, a girl orphaned by the Jade Warrior. She seeks revenge; therefore she follows Jason to fight the Jade Warrior and his minions.
At first I thought The Forbidden Kingdom was going to be stupid because I knew the movie was going to twist the Chinese fables into an out-of-this-world story. I was partly right. The movie did change the Chinese stories but in a good way. Famous characters from a variety of stories were added to the famous Monkey King story. There was the Jade family, one of the Eight Immortals, and the White Hair maiden. You'll think it'll be a jumble mess but every character had a purpose that fit into the storyline. One little detail that bothered me, though, was how Jason and the Chinese characters can understand each other. I mean, when Jason first landed in China, everyone was speaking Chinese except him, but when Lu Yan arrives, people started speaking English. Throughout the movie there was a switch between Chinese and English. I thought that was pretty weird. They should've just stuck to one language.
The Wizard of Oz was also blended in with the story. The journey, the many characters that were benefited in the end and the reward of going home given to the main character were elements of the Wizard of Oz.
Costumes and Setting:
I though the clothes and hair were pretty good. I especially like Ni Chang's white hair. It gave me a video game feeling to the movie. Her white hair is so far one of the best I've seen (meaning it's not dry and look fake). I really like the girls' clothes; it's really flow-y and has dark rich colors. Speaking of rich colors, the scenery has some nice colors that gave the movie a poetic feel to it. There were forest scenes with lushly green and blue. The lighting was pretty dark but that too gave the movie a poetic feel.
I would recommend this movie to those who like a good twist to a classic tale. If you don't like changes to an old story then don't watch. If you want to watch the movie because Jackie Chan and Jet Li are in it, like me, you wouldn't be disappointed.