I decided I’d head out to the LaGrange on this cool yet ridiculously humid night to see a movie.
What were my choices?
Forgetting Sarah Marshall – That’s okay, I don’t know her to begin with.
Shine A Light – A documentary on the Rolling Stones by Martin Scorsese. I have a strict rule. I only watch documentaries on the Stones where-
- Someone is stabbed by the Hell’s Angels
- The Stones sue to prevent its release because they are embarrassed by their behavior
- They are upstaged by the Who.
21 – I think I first saw the trailer for this back in early 1992. After the forty-seventh time of seeing the trailer I got so excited about the hijinx of Kevin Spacey and his merry band of MIT pranksters, but then when I saw it thirteen more times my interest finally waned.
The Forbidden Kingdom – Let’s go!
Okay, first, some setup.
I don’t have any bills on me, so I stuff a handful of quarters into my pocket and hop in the car. I drive into LaGrange and am surprised to see a carnival setup in the downtown area. Carnivals make me happy. I like all the pretty lights, what can I say?
I mosey up to the theater and see the price is $3.50. I think, “Did they raise the price?” I had thought the new price was $2.50 — I knew the price had gone up, I just remembered wrong. I didn’t have enough quarters with me. I feebly asked the guy in the ticket booth if I could charge the ticket (I couldn’t!). I then sprinted up to an ATM, got some cash and managed to still get back in time before the film started.
Were you worried just then? That was not just dramatic license on my part. That whole series of events actually happened.
Anyways… The Forbidden Kingdom. I knew very little about this. As the credits start rolling, I see the Action Choreographer is Woo-ping Yuen. Woo-ping Yuen has choreographed a lot of Hollywood movies (Crouching Tiger, the Matrix trilogy, etc.). Even if Forbidden Kingdom turned out to be rather chokey, I had some confidence that there would be some nicely-done fight scenes.
Incidentally, Woo-ping Yuen is also an excellent director – he has directed one of my all-time favorite action movies, Wing Chun. He’s got plenty of other good ones as well — Drunken Master, Twin Warriors, etc.
So Jackie Chan and Jet Li are the big names in this movie. From what I can tell, they haven’t really worked together before, so I’m assuming this was a coup to someone somewhere. I was interested in seeing how the goofiness of Chan would mesh with the more matter-of-fact style of Li. At about the middle of the film, there’s a nice, extended fight scene between the two. I thought to myself, “It’s all downhill from here.” And I was right!
Chan and Li each play two roles in the film. Chan is an old geezer who runs a pawn shop in the present day, and also plays a drunken kung fu master in Ye Olden China. I appreciated the nod to his Drunken Master films.
Li plays a monk, as well as the Monkey King, an immortal being who lost his staff, which must be returned to him. Li had some pretty styling hair as the Monkey King, making him look like a primped-up Captain Kangaroo.
Oh, I neglected to mention the star of this movie. Hold on. Lemme look up his name. Ahhh. Michael Angarano. He plays a kung-fu movie-obsessed dweeb in the present day who finds a staff in a pawn shop, is told he needs to return the staff to its rightful owner, then falls off a building into ancient China.
When he gets to China, Chan and Li accompany him on his trip to get the staff back to the Monkey King, and improbably teach him how to fight along the way.
There’s a little problem. The actor looks like a young Sean Astin (y’know, Rudy). The audience is meant to identify with him. As the group nears their destination, his character starts sporting a little ponytail.
Think about it. Sean Astin with a little ponytail. Rudy with a little ponytail. Samwise Gamgee with a ponytail. This is who I am supposed to identify with?
Fuck the Monkey King and his staff, I don’t want any part of this stupid adventure.