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The Forbidden Kingdom 2-Disc Special Edition DVD

 

How much fun to have this little giftie fall into our hot little hooves. You’ve already read our review of the feature film release (Click here to go there), so now I can give you the skinny on the lovely special edition 2-disc of The Forbidden Kingdom.

Straight away the spiffy lenticular hologram slipcase sets us up for fun. Of course and most importantly for me is the wonderful letterbox transfer that now allows me to fast forward past any scene with the awkward and annoying Michael Angarano, so right off the bat, I give this disc the big ups.

The commentary by director Rob Minkoff and writer John Fusco gives illuminating details on both the shoot and the cultural perspective to their choices. Fusco is particularly learned on martial arts, but one is perilously close to having their eyes glaze over from his insistence on demonstrating a knowledge that teeters on the point of kung fu nerdishness. He tells a story of having written in all sorts of very specific Shaolin kung fu moves into the script and talking to legendary action director Yuen Woo-ping about them and being so impressed that Woo-ping used his moves in the big Jackie vs. Jet fight. Uh-huh…. Outside of Fusco’s vicarious living through his script, both men are well-versed in Asian culture and don’t seem to be parroting facts. They’d do best to refrain from comparing their film to other Hollywood fare, for example, making us aware that Robert Conrad, star of the 1960’s Western series The Wild, Wild West is “a great martial artist” is almost flinchworthy when you’re commenting on a film starring Jet Li and Jackie Chan. Advising viewers of a “Hope and Crosby moment” between Chan and Li also feels weird when the two have their own unique chemistry.

Informative as the commentary is, there is always one flaw in talking too much about Jackie Chan’s involvement in a film. It always gives one the impression that the director was only a second banana to the more experienced control freak Chan is renowned to be on a movie set. Minkoff is wise enough to have taken Chan’s advice and also adjust the details of the film as advised by Jet Li’s superior knowledge of the Monkey King story. Minkoff and Fusco speak of so many such advisements and alterations by their stars that one wonders why both men don’t have a writer/director credit. It is fun to hear Minkoff’s recollections of Jackie and his old friend Yuen Woo-Ping going head to head, one-upping each other for dominance of a complicated fight sequence in a teahouse, resulting in said scene originally scheduled for about 5 takes being shot over 150 times in one night.

This commentary is obviously for the grown ups, but as it was with the broad demographic for the film itself, the DVD will babysit both little kids and teenagers for hours.

 

Extras! We got Extras!

 

The Kung Fu Dream Team: How the Hollywood producers’ collaboration with the Wuxia Gods Jackie Chan, Jet Li and fight choreographer Yuen Woo-Ping came to be. Thank goodness the American producers paid attention to their more experienced cast’s wisdom. There are some great clips of Woo-ping teaching the actors their moves and interesting tidbits about how the Chan/Li movie match-up finally came to be.

Dangerous Beauty: We’re given a closer look at the alluring femmes fatales of Forbidden Kingdom and the actresses playing the heroic Golden Sparrow {Liu Yifei} and the evil Queen Sindel  - I mean, The Bride With White Hair – er, the witch, Ni Chang {Li Bing Bin}.

Discovering China: A travelogue of the producers talking about how special it was that they filmed a movie that takes place in China in China. What Asian filmmakers have been doing for decades is suddenly remarkable because Western producers are doing it. We also get a valuable lesson on how to abscond with someone’s bamboo crop. Nice close-ups of the truly stunning scenery.

Filming in Chinawood: An exploration of Hengdian World Studios, the largest film studio in Asia. In a nice bit of trivia, we’re informed the studio was originally manufactured to accommodate Chen Kaige’s epic The Emperor and the Assassin.

Monkey King and the Eight Immortals: Writer John Fusco shows off his Asia-cred, his interest in Chinese culture and some kung fu moves on his own (- in costume!), while explaining the roots of not only his film’s characters, but all martial arts!

Pre-visualisation Featurette: CGI animated storyboards show us the earliest ideas for The Forbidden Kingdom.

Blooper Reel: Yay for the blooper reel! Not nearly as cleverly put together as the Rush Hour end credits, but they do show an unusual amount of cutting up on the set by Jackie (- I guess he wasn’t as strict with time on a Hollywood budget). The boo-boos confirm what a great time both J’s - Jackie and Jet - had making this film. Shame they didn’t use some of these over the end credits in true Jackie fashion.

Deleted Scenes: Really we were better off. Absolutely nothing that would have added to the released cut. Pity we couldn’t have deleted an actor.

Lotsa fun, kids. Worth your jiao!

 

~ The Lady Miz Diva

September 8th. 2008

 

 

The Forbidden Kingdom Special Edition 2-Disc DVD goes on sale, Tuesday September 9th, 2008

 

 

 

 

 

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