Sunday, April 20, 2008

THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM was described by one critic as “Kung Fu lite”. This is a martial arts, tongue in cheek, don’t expect anything surprising, old time formula flick that is just good entertainment, especially if you are a fan of Jackie Chan or Jet Li who both star in it.

The story centers around a kung fu obsessed teen (played by Michael Angarano) from Boston (of all places) who seems like any other teen nerd type that the movies portray as the stereo-type nowadays. He has a “friend” who is an old, old pawn shop owner who keeps him in stock with kung fu movies and articles of interest. In the back of the pawn shop, he finds an ancient staff. Well, not to tell too much, there are the “bad teens” who show up and threaten our hero who mystically gets transported through the “gate of no gate” (just a dumb plot device to get the kid where the action is) where he gets mentored by an always drunk Jackie Chan who can still best an army of bad guys while totally in the bag! What a guy! The plot is that our young hero must return the staff to the Monkey King who has been turned to stone for 500 years. Along the way they add the silent monk (Jet Li) and Sparrow (Yefei Liu) to the party.

There is nothing special about the plot of THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM and even the title doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the story … so who cares. Just bring on Jackie and Jet and have some fun. And that’s what the movie does. There is plenty of screen time for both Chan and Li. The martial arts scenes are what the martial arts movie buffs want and I don’t think they will be disappointed. I especially liked the arch villain the Jade Warlord (Collin Chou) who I thought made a great bad guy. All that mascara reminded me of Ming the Merciless.

I think the costumes and sets were wonderful and very well done as was the matt work for most of the scenes. The photography was good to the point of distracting, especially the scenes filmed in China. I found the whole film a pleasure for the eyes to behold. I did have some trouble understanding parts of the dialog from Li and Chan, which annoyed me a bit. But, if you’ve seen these guys before, you’re used to it.

Still, this is just another kung fu movie, nothing new here except it has both Jackie Chan and Jet Li. Despite the Karate Kid story line and the very predicable plot, I found this very entertaining. And that is what I go to the movies for, to be entertained. And it was a real pleasure to see Jet Li smile and even laugh in a film. Now that’s entertainment!!

I’ll give it an 8 out of 10 on my ever so humble Monkey King movie scale. You the man!

Saturday, April 19, 2008


EXPELLED: NO INTELLIGENCE ALLOWED is a semi-documentary film by Ben Stein (see links at bottom) that takes us on a journey around the globe where he interviews scientists, educators and philosophers that are being persecuted in a modern day witch hunt because they believe in intelligent design and dare to speak out against Darwinism. These learned people of education are being fired, ridiculed and ostracized for merely challenging Darwin’s theory; proposing that life on this planet could be a part of some intelligent design and not random chance. And you though the Scopes trial was over!

The movie has many topics that are covered and interviews with people from both sides of the street. Sure, there is a controversy involved with these two theories and there has been for decades … even centuries. There are hundreds of web sites out there each screaming the “evidence” to prove their point. I mean, this battle is so intense that people’s careers and lives are ruined by their beliefs. To me this is the main travesty that is exposed by this film. The loss of freedom and suppression of thought.

This points out to me is what I have seen my whole life. Some call it “the old boys school”, some say it’s elitism, there are dozens of names, but is IS out there and I, for one, have seen it first hand my entire life. It is good to see someone speak out about it for a change.

I can remember in High School English class. We were studying poetry. The teacher gave a student a failing grade because that person dared to interpret a poem differently than the teacher’s interpretation. I was glad to see that it didn’t stop there. The student complained and escalated the problem and after a battle with the powers that be, the teacher was forced to back down and acknowledge that there can be more than one interpretation.

This is one of the stories this movie is telling, except the “powers that be” here are more powerful and the mountain is harder to climb. We have the group with the power telling everyone what to believe. There is no debate and anyone who opposes their view is ostracized, fired, blacklisted and on and on. In this particular battle, I have also seen first hand, as have we all, the deteriorating of the conservative point of view, not because of proof or the evidence tells us the conclusion, but because others say it’s the way it should be and the rest of us must tow the party line.

This brings me to another point. This movie points out that theses scientists pushing Darwinism shouldn’t even be called scientists since they do not follow the scientific method which all scientific research must adhere to. For those who forget what the Scientific Method is, here is the definition from Wikapedia:

“Scientific method refers to the body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. It is based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.”

If you listen to what is said in the film, none of those against the theory of intelligent design have any proof. It is all based on conjecture and consensus. Science is not based on consensus, but on facts otherwise it is not science, but, in fact, conjecture. After all, Darwinism is a THEORY, not a fact. Even Darwin admitted that the fossil record did not support his theory and so don't its supporters. But yet, they teach and talk about it as if it were fact. Yes, those opposed to intelligent design have a theory, too. That is why both sides should be allowed to express their theories or we will be thrust back into scientific dark ages. I better get off the subject at this point, this is supposed to be a movie review!

I won’t go into the interviews with British biologist Richard Dawkins, or others. I won’t get into the some of the opinions on how life was brought here by aliens in UFO’s or tie-ins with the Holocaust and other atrocities. You will have to see it for yourself.

I found this movie well done and thought provoking. It shows that there are a lot of learned people out there that are just plain “stupid”... but, we already know that! Sure, my mind was made up on what I believed even before I saw this film and nothing could have changed what I know to be right. But, no matter which side you are on, I suggest you see it. There is so much information given and the discussions are so compelling that I will probably see it again. I feel this is a must see for everyone. I have to give this a 10 on my humble movie rating scale.

If you want to debate any of the content of this review or the topics of the film, feel free to add comments.

"But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty" I COR 1:27

More on Ben Stein

Personal website:

Or for lazy people: