Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Martial Arts Cycle > The Forbidden Kingdom (Blu-ray + DVD-Video/Lionsgate)

The Forbidden Kingdom (Blu-ray + DVD-Video/Lionsgate)


Picture: A-/B     Sound: A*/B     Extras: A-     Film: B-



One of the most, if not the most anticipated Martial Arts movies to ever arrive is 2008’s The Forbidden Kingdom, and for 2 reasons: Li and Chan.  Similar to how horror films had always wanted Freddy and Jason to collide, Martial Arts fans have long awaited to see these two larger-than-life Martial Artists to come together in the same film.


Ok, so finally after a long wait and tons of rumors the project gets the go-ahead and Jet Li and Jackie Chan pair up for an epic film that at it’s core involves what else…fighting.  Oddly enough Rob Minkoff gets the directing job and the result is mixed.  While most will appreciate the films attempt to be something more along the lines of 2004’s House of Flying Daggers, it ends up being too ‘Americanized’, which is a result of Minkoff’s directing.  Li and Chan light up the screen though and are able to make the film work predominately because of their status and their ability to work together so well. 


The storyline is actual quite good and reminds me of something that Akira Kurosawa would have put together at some point where two fighters (Li and Chan) are put in charge of training a 21st century fan, who has been summoned to fight for the freedom of the ‘Monkey King’ and combat against superior fighting forces.  It is only through their training that he has any chance at all and the Kingdom is on the line.  However, Kurosawa would have been more focused on the character study and aspects of the storyline, whereas a director like Minkoff is more interested in the commercial qualities of the film and is more focused on the fighting, than the actual characters.  This is where the film becomes mixed. 


Lionsgate has pulled no punches with this film knowing that it’s a great title to bring forth because of the large draw that it will have for fans.  This Blu-ray release is perhaps one of their best to date and offers great performance as well as a load of extras that will have fans tickled to death.  Let’s begin with the technical aspects of the Blu-ray. 


A quick comparison back and forth between the DVD and the Blu-ray the first impression is that while both have solid transfers in their respective formats, the Blu-ray is highly detailed with great depth and dimension that delivers a more life-like presentation.  Both transfers are framed at 2.40 X 1, while the Blu-ray is in High Definition 1080p it offers amazing color depth where the DVD quickly shows it’s limitations as the colors are not able to be fully realized.  Darker scenes make this more evident as the softness is more prominent in the standard definition disc, where the Blu-ray really excels though is the fight sequences as greater detail can be seen even in faster passages that the DVD just can’t compute. 


Likewise the audio is fantastic on both discs, but again the DVD, which is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is no match for the far superior 7.1 DTS-HD lossless audio track that the Blu-ray boasts.  This is without a doubt one of the better mixes that we have heard in 7.1 in a long time and demonstrates just how much fidelity that Blu-ray can offer in up to 8-tracks of information.  Having not seen this film theatrical it’s hard to imagine it getting much better than this.  Fight scenes, dialogue, the musical score, everything just comes through with such energy, life, fidelity, and overall richness that the DVD just can’t hold a candle to.  If ever there were a way to convert someone to Blu-ray look no further than this title as it quickly shows how great DVD can be, but how much superior Blu-ray can be even beyond that point.  A must for presentation! 


*This rating is based on the viewer having all 7.1 capability in DTS-HD lossless format. 


As if the presentation wasn’t reward enough, then comes the extras, which are abundant to say the least.  There are several featurettes that encompass a large degree of topics, mostly directed as Li and Chan and pairing them together.  There is a blooper reel, deleted scenes with directors commentary, a directors audio commentary track, plus a pre-production visualization featurette as well, plus the films casting, interviews, location featurette, and a really cool feature called “MOLOG” and this if the very first Blu-ray to use this new technology that enables the user to go Live online and insert shapes, text, audio and other graphics into the film along with other online users and create blogs for other users as well.  A very nifty little feature that surely will get lots of attention as a film like this will have a large enough fan base around the world to warrant such activity.  There is also a second disc, which contains the digital copy of the film as well.  Whew, that’s a lot of stuff!  The same extras are on the DVD minus the interactive online features. 


Overall a decent film that might disappoint the biggest Martial Art critics, but entertaining at the same time and far more enjoyable in the Blu-ray format with all the bells and whistles to boot!



-   Nate Goss


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com