Australian Council on Children and the Media

Forbidden Kingdom

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Not recommended under 13, PG to 15 due to frequent action violence and some coarse language

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Forbidden Kingdom
  • a review of Forbidden Kingdom completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 31 July 2008.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended for children under thirteen due to frequent stylised action violence, including occasional blood and gore, and some coarse language
Children over the age of 13 Parental guidance recommended for children over the age of thirteen.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Forbidden Kingdom
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Martial arts violence and infrequent coarse language
Length 104 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Jason Tripitikas (Michael Angarano) is a teenager with a great passion for Kung Fu films, which he buys from a dusty old shop in Chinatown run by an old Chinese man called Old Hop (Jackie Chan). Old Hop has an antique Chinese fighting staff, which, he tells Jason, has been in the shop for more than a hundred years, and will one day be claimed and returned to its rightful owner.
While walking home after visiting Hop’s shop, Jason is set upon by a group of local bullies. The leader of the bullies Lupo (Morgan Benoit) forces Jason to deceive Old Hop so the gang can get inside Old Hop’s shop to rob it. During the robbery Old Hop is shot in the chest and, while lying on the floor, gives Jason the staff, telling him that it is he who must return the staff to its rightful owner. Jason is pursued by Lupo and his gang but, through the magic of the staff, finds himself being pulled away from the gang. He is hurled off a rooftop, but before he hits the ground the film blacks out.
When Jason wakes up he finds that he has been transported back in time to a small village in China where he is befriended by a wine soaked beggar named Lu Yan (also played by Jackie Chan). Through narration and imagery Lu Yan tells Jason the story of the Monkey King, an immortal who was deceived and turned to stone by the Jade Warlord (Collin Chou), an evil immortal who has caused much death and destruction. For the Monkey King to be set free his magical staff must be returned to him by the Seeker. Lu Yan then tells Jason that he is the Seeker who must return the staff to The Monkey King. To free the Monkey King, Jason must outrun a witch and the Jade Warlord’s henchmen, cross a desert and find the Jade Warlord’s palace at the top of “Five Elements Mountain”. Jason sets off with Lu Yan and they are joined by Golden Sparrow (Yifei Liu) a girl seeking vengeance against the Jade Warlord, and a mysterious silent monk.
During their journey the Jade Warlord’s witch Ni Chang (Bingbing Li) confronts Jason and his friends. Although the group manages to escape, Lu Yan is shot in the back by a magical arrow. Jason believes that the only way to save Lu Yan’s life is for him to go to the Jade Warlord and offer him the Monkey King’s staff in exchange for the Elixir of Life. Jason makes it to the Jade Warlord’s palace, but instead of receiving the Elixir of Life, he is challenged to a “fight to the death” by the witch Ni Chang. When it appears that Jason has lost, Golden Sparrow, the Silent Monk and a host of Kung Fu monks arrive and do battle.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Kung Fu and Chinese folklore

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

Most of the violence depicted through Forbidden Kingdom is heavily stylised action violence with minimal blood and gore. At other times the violence is intimidating and realistic. Examples include:

  • frequent and sometimes prolonged stylised martial arts fighting with spinning and twirling kicks and punches to the face, chest and body. Weapons such as swords, knives, throwing spikes, spears and whips are used. Adversaries crash into the sides of mountains, and on occasions we hear sounds like bones breaking
  • Jason is harassed by a group of bullies. Lupo, the group’s leader, pushes Jason off his bike, slaps and kicks him and knocks him to the ground
  • Lupo grabs Old Hop roughly by the shirt collar, they tussle and Lupo is knocked to the ground. Lupo shoots Old Hop in the chest with a handgun
  • the village to which Jason has been sent is attacked. Soldiers stab and slash at villagers with swords. Lu Yan fights the soldiers in a comical manner and rescues Jason
  • the Monkey King and the Jade Warlord fight with lots of stylised martial arts action
  • a young woman throws two metal darts at a soldier. The darts stick in the soldier’s throat killing him
  • the Jade Warlord stabs a guard in the stomach
  • the white haired witch Ni Chang use a whip to strike an old man. The whip wraps itself around the man’s throat and the witch drags the old man across the ground
  • the Silent Monk and Lu Yan use Jason as a type of puppet through whom they hit one another
  • Golden Sparrow relives a horrific event from her childhood in which the Jade Warlord’s soldiers attack her village, killing the villagers and burning their houses. Golden Sparrow’s mother is killed by a soldier after she has hidden Golden Sparrow.
  • the witch Ni Chang and a number of soldiers ambush Jason. In the ensuing fight, guards are hurled against trees and Golden Sparrow slashes down guards with two swords (no blood and gore).
  • Lu Yan is shot in the back with a magical arrow fired by Ni Chang
  • Jason fights with the Ni Chang, and Ni Chang uses her whip to begin strangling him
  • Jason is pushed to the floor and a guard with a sword makes ready to cut off his head
  • the Silent Monk, Golden Sparrow and a troop of monks arrive to prevent the decapitation, and another all out fight follows in which the Silent Monk is punched repeatedly in the face, the Jade Warlord is struck in the throat by a staff and the Jade Warlord attacks the Silent Monk cutting him several times on the shoulder and chest.
  • Ni Chang falls to her death
  • Golden Sparrow throws a jade hair pin at the Jade Warlord (Jade is the only thing that will kill an immortal), but the Jade Warlord uses magic to throw the hair pin back at Golden Sparrow the pin hits her in the chest the force throwing her into the wall behind (we see blood on her lips).
  • The Monkey King kicks the Jade Warlord the force hurling the Warlord into Jason who is holding the jade hairpin he has removed from Golden Sparrows chest. The pin pierces the Jade Warlord’s chest and we see green vapour escaping from the Warlord’s face and body and his face becoming corpse-like in appearance. The Warlord falls into a river of lava and perishes. We see Golden Sparrow die in Jason’s arms.
  • After Jason is returned to the present time, he is immediately set upon by Lupo and his gang of bullies. They fight, Lupo pulls out a gun and points it at Jason, but Jason easily kicks the gun from Lupo’s hand.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • scenes in which tendrils of green light come out of the Jade Warlords mouth and fingers.
  • two corpses are shown hanging from a tree with a rope tied around each corpse’s neck
  • when the Jade Warlord is stabbed with a jade hair pin, green tendrils of light escape from his mouth and body and his face changes taking on a corpse like appearance.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Apart from the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are no images or scenes of concern in this movie.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Apart from the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are no images or scenes of concern in this movie.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Apart from the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are no images or scenes of concern in this movie.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • older Kung Fu (Bruce Lee) movies
  • video games (Virtual Fighter 2).

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Old Hop makes a reference to “Spanky Monkey”, referring to masturbation.
  • Lu Yan tries to conjure up rain, and it appears as if rain is falling, but then the camera shows that the Silent Monk is urinating on Lu Yan’s head

 

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • there is a scene in a brothel with lots of Chinese courtesans wearing skimpy tops that reveal cleavage and midriffs, and see-through dresses that reveal their thighs. 
  • two women stand in front of the Jade Warlord apparently for inspection with the inference that the Jade Warlord will later force himself upon them
  • Ni Chang wears low cut tops that reveal her cleavage.

Use of substances

None

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • shit
  • taking a dump
  • bitch
  • piss ant.

In a nutshell

Forbidden Kingdom is an action, adventure fantasy film that features the martial arts skills of the film’s two major stars Jet Li and Jackie Chan. Fans of Chan and Li will not be disappointed with their performance, and all of the film’s cast members perform well.
The main messages from this movie are that:

  • seeking vengeance may not always achieve the desired effect
  • greatness lies within and we are all capable of achieving it, but only the individual themselves can free that greatness.

Kung Fu is a way of life and thinking that can be applied to every aspect of life.
Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • loyalty
  • camaraderie
  • self-sacrifice
  • endurance through adversity and respect.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as.

  • pursuing vengeance
  • using martial arts skills to harm others rather than for protection only.

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