'Kingdom' casts magical spell

The Baltimore Sun

Kung fu purists may scoff, but escapists with a sense of humor should romp through The Forbidden Kingdom. It teams Hong Kong superstars Jackie Chan and Jet Li for the first time in an American/Mandarin fantasy that showers affectionate irreverence on martial-arts classics as well as kitsch milestones like The Karate Kid.

In an irresistibly giddy story that plays mix and match with mythologies from Chinese legendry and Greek fable to pulp fiction, Michael Angarano plays a Greek-American boy from South Boston, Jason Tripitikas (as in Jason and the Argonauts). While scouring a Chinatown pawnshop for martial-arts DVDs, he stumbles on an antique staff that catapults him into a medieval Chinese-fantasy universe of soldier monks, witches and immortals.

The Forbidden Kingdom (Lionsgate/Weinstein Co.) Starring Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Michael Angarano. Directed by Rob Minkoff. Rated PG-13 for some violence. Time 113 minutes.

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