Parents' Guide to

The Forbidden Kingdom

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Mostly bloodless Chan/Li martial arts adventure.

Movie PG-13 2008 113 minutes
The Forbidden Kingdom Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 9 parent reviews

age 12+

Racist slur made me wish I had skipped this one

Came for Jackie Chan and Jet Li, left feeling disappointed. The movie is…fine. Great fight scenes, as you’d expect, fairly boring plot. Was really surprised to hear a racist slur used TWICE during one of the scenes with the bullies.

This title has:

Too much swearing
age 8+

Wonderful fantasy martial arts film with real applicable messages

Recently taught my son about Jackie Chan and he couldn’t wait to watch a movie with him in it. He also enjoyed learning out of the bits of Chinese mythology mixed in with the movie. The film does a great job of showing the beginner period of learning martial arts, there’s a heavy emphasis on the spirit of training and finding your way through work and perseverance and that message remains in focus throughout. At times the violence is a little intense, the introduction has a scene where an elderly man gets shot, as well as later in the film there are stabbings and a scene depicting a couple of hanged villagers, but it never feels gratuitous or for it’s own sake. It’s always to point out wrongs being done and strengthen the main characters conviction to do the right thing. There is some language, but again there is nothing gratuitous about it, no f bombs and only maybe a couple of s’s and a handful of b’s coming from the villains. Considering the context and that he’s already started learning about bad words and not saying them, he didn’t have any issues understanding that is it’s not the kind of language that anyone should actually use. In the fantasy setting based on Chinese folklore, there exist immortals with special powers. In order to stay immortal they have to drink a magic elixir. One of Jackie Chan’s characters’ elixir takes the form of wine. Coming from alcoholic parents, I’ve had discussions with my child about addiction and how it can negatively impact your life, so for me this is another detail that doesn’t really matter, especially since later on the characters use of wine is addressed as his weakness and gets in the way of the protagonists’ quest. I think the way that the spotlight was put on addiction without demonization was refreshing Overall we all loved the film and it’s so great to have films like this to share with my budding martial artist.

This title has:

Great messages

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (9):
Kids say (12):

Its plotlines are circuitous to say the least, but THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM is pure fun (there's a message somewhere about "learning the form but seeking the formless," but it's almost unimportant). The fighting sequences are exhilarating, especially those that pit Chan against Li. Seeing Chan in action, it's clear that the pure martial arts genre is the best showcase for his talents; in his sidekick movies, he doesn't get to unleash his prowess as extensively as he does here. Angarano also holds his own, and the villains are deliciously over-the-top, especially Li Bingbing, who plays the devious, white-maned Ni Chang.

But anyone who's expecting Kill Bill-style action will be disappointed. Though the fighting moves on display here are legit, there's little gore. Arrows cartoonishly pierce skin but don't draw blood (which is good if you plan on taking kids to see it). The film could also have done with less forced banter; the "witty" repartee isn't really all that witty. And the film's present-day bookends, though they inject Forbidden Kingdom with some semblance of a frame, are forgettable throwaways.

Movie Details

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