The Forbidden Kingdom Movie Poster Image

The Forbidden Kingdom



Mostly bloodless Chan/Li martial arts adventure.
Popular with kids
  • Review Date: April 22, 2008
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 113 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Overall, the movie is a classic good vs. evil scenario, with good triumphing in the end. And the main character learns important things about himself through helping others. Still, Jason's choices do lead to an old man getting shot, Li Yan appears unable to get by without drinking, a young woman is hell-bent on revenge, and a warlord and his henchwoman will stop at nothing to get what they crave.


Fight scenes make up the bulk of the movie, but they're beautifully choreographed and largely bloodless. That said, there are plenty of disconcerting sounds, such as bones breaking and joints crunching. Swords and arrows are repeatedly brandished, and some characters perish. A group of thugs beats up Jason and shoots an elderly man -- an incident that's far more disturbing than the martial arts fights, which appear more like a ballet than a violent skirmish.


A martial-arts fighter crashes through what appears to be a brothel, though the women are fully clothed; later, a villain ogles a woman as if she were an item he was considering purchasing.


Fairly tame, though "s--t" is said a couple of times. Other words include "damn," "hell," "pissant" and "bitch."


Not much of an issue, except for several mentions of Bruce Lee film titles.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One adult character can only thrive when he drinks.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that, despite its seemingly endless parade of bone-crunching kung-fu battles, this Jet Li/Jackie Chan martial arts action movie is actually pretty tame. Since there's more focus on the artistry of fighting than on its gory aftermath, there's very little blood (despite the presence of knives and swords). Plus, the basic story -- in helping others, a young man discovers his own strength and will -- is pretty warm and fuzzy. There's minimal swearing and basically no sexual content; Chan's character drinks, but it's presented as a weakness. One warning: Younger viewers may need to be warned not to try the kung-fu moves at home.

What's the story?

Shy teenager Jason Tripitikas (Michael Angarano) might not seem like the most likely person to be fated to return a centuries-old golden staff that once belonged to the mythical Monkey King (Jet Li), who was turned to stone by the evil Jade Warlord (Collin Chou). But Jason finds himself in that very situation when an elderly shopkeeper (Jackie Chan) entrusts him with the task ... after Jason betrays the old man, who winds up getting shot. In no time, a guilt-ridden Jason is transported back to ancient China, where he meets up with two kung-fu masters -- Lu Yan (Chan again), whose elixir is wine, and the Silent Monk (Li, also in a double role) -- who must teach him how to vanquish the Jade Warlord, free the Monkey King, and go home. Is Jason up to the task?

Is it any good?


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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the movie depicts martial arts battles vs. other fights. What's the difference between martial arts and "regular" fighting? What makes the former an actual "art"? What message is the movie sending by presenting the martial arts sequences beautifully and casting the present-day brawls in an ugly light? Are some forms of combat more acceptable than others? Families can also discuss Jason's choices in the movie. In the end, does he redeem himself?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 18, 2008
DVD release date:September 8, 2008
Cast:Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Michael Angarano
Director:Rob Minkoff
Topics:Sports and martial arts
Run time:113 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:sequences of martial arts action and some violence.

This review of The Forbidden Kingdom was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 11 years old March 29, 2013


VIOLENCE: 6/10 Some martial arts fight sequences. Some swordplay. A man's face is burned and charred, and a man is shot, with blood. The man is shot scene is really strong. People battle with spears and swords. People are struck in the neck with metal darts. Some stabbings. LANGUAGE: 5/10 One Sh*t, a b*tch, and some d*mns. SEX: 4/10 Kissing, and some mild flirting. CONSUMERISM: 5/10 Drinking and eating at a resurant. Some objects shown that people buy in a pawn shop. DRINKING: 5/10 Swigs taken from jugs, alcohol usage. Total Content displayed: 25/50. A rather intense martial arts film. PG-13. Fits the rating perfectly. Good movie overall!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent of a 5, 9, 11, and 14 year old Written byJamesRobertson January 4, 2009
Teen, 16 years old Written byraeedthunder February 16, 2011
i like it
What other families should know
Too much swearing


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