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Love crappy movies but are too ashamed to admit it? Are you a big Rob Schneider fan but you're tired of being burned? Not sure if you want to waste your money on the same old movie? That's why you have Joe.

Joe Loves Crappy Movies is by Joseph Dunn. Joe willingly goes to see the very worst that Hollywood has to offer. Whenever a crappy movie comes out Joe will be there to see it, make fun of it, and actually review it. Nothing is safe, and nothing is sacred. From the big budget action disasters to the low brow fart based comedies, to anything starring Martin Lawrence? Joe will tear it apart.

With each entry you'll get not only a comic poking fun at the movie, but also a detailed review. Joe's not educated in film or cinematography or acting, he's just a guy that draws comics and likes movies. So if you're looking for the everyman perspective and a little joke in comic form... you're in the right place.

The Forbidden Kingdom

Starring: Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Michael Angarano, Yifei Liu, Collin Chou, Bingbing Li

Directed by: Rob Minkoff

Lionsgate Films

The Official Site of The Forbidden Kingdom

Discuss The Forbidden Kingdom on the boards!

Like may people, when I first heard that Jackie Chan and Jet Li, the most influential and recognizable figures in martial arts theater since Bruce Lee, were teaming up for the first time on screen, I got very excited. Excited about the kind of movie it could be. I envisioned 20-minute action pieces with trick stunts and amazing feats of acrobatics like no other action heroes on the planet could recreate. Two legends squaring off against each other in epic Kung Fu battles that would rewrite the way hand-to-hand fighting would be portrayed in film for the rest of time.

But my dream of a gritty, white-knuckled, Kung Fu smack down was not to be. Maybe that was the right way to go though. DeNiro and Pacino gave us exactly the “type” of movie we wanted to see them in and Righteous Kill was an uninspired mess. More importantly, it’s not like Jet and Jackie have built a career on mercilessly kicking ass. Tons of kicking, and sure – some of it was in the ass – but rarely was it done aggressively or with malice.

Think about every Jackie Chan character you’ve ever seen since he began making films in America. He never plays the capable super soldier knocking out teeth and killing without remorse. He’s ALWAYS the simple soldier that falls ass backwards into some sort of calamity he needs to bumble-kick (yeah, that’s a real move) his way out of. He’s the goofy, reluctant warrior and that works for him. I almost don’t want to see him as a ruthless killer.

Jet, on the other hand, has traveled down that road before. Unleashed is a great example of him at his gnarliest, but he’s the victim in that movie; In most of his movies actually. Jet plays a great wronged hero. A warrior with no options left, fighting for the right reasons. What’s nice about The Forbidden Kingdom is that we’re seeing him in a completely different way. I know it’s not want you want, but be prepared to see the silly inner child of Kung-Fu’s greatest monster.

That’s something I certainly didn’t come close to expecting when I first heard about the team-up. I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work though. This fantasy adventure that brings together classic mythology, state of the art visual effects, and a pure spirit of imagination that we rarely see on the big screen these days, succeeds in many unexpected ways. The Forbidden Kingdom might not be the movie we wanted or expected, but maybe that’s a good thing.

Jason Tripitikas, our young hero played by the terribly underrated (and completely overshadowed by LeBouef) Michael Angarano, is a young man living in modern times, obsessed with old Kung Fu movies and plagued by dreams of another world. Dreams of a world where a Monkey king battles Jade warriors on mounting tops. An accidental bump on the head sends him into his dream world like it were a tornado in Kansas, and the movie doesn’t shy away from questioning reality. When Jason awakens he thinks it's a dream but finds himself in the middle of an adventure he can’t seem to wake up from.

I won’t go too far into the plot of the film other than saying it’s a quest movie. An unlikely band of allies including Jackie’s drunken warrior, Jet’s Silent Monk and a mysterious young woman (a.k.a – standard, throw-away love interest that seems unnecessary at first but serves her role well by being easy on the eyes and having a revenge theme that inspires Jason and keeps him motivated) all set off on a mission to return a legendary weapon to its rightful owner. It’s pretty standard storytelling where the unlikely hero becomes a true hero through the challenges faced throughout the journey. Not to mention the hysterical training sequences where a very surely and impatient pair of masters struggle to make him be as good as he can be. But it works. Great characters and a wild imagination keep it from being stale and formulaic.

What the movie is really about is Jason becoming a man. Just like Teen Wolf without the car surfing.

As completely charmed as I am with the adventure, had the movie not followed through with something special on this classic team-up I would have been disappointed. If there weren’t at least one scene with the masters tearing it up, then it would have been all for naught. You wait for it. For that perfect scene. Something. Anything. The tiniest little leg sweep that would somehow justify this legendary pairing.

They definitely make you wait for it but when Jet and Jackie finally do face off – it’s brilliant. A 10-minute display of what we’ve come to expect and love in them. The action throughout is wildly entertaining (Admittedly a little heavy on the wirework, but this is a land of magic and fizzy lifting drinks so some free-floating gravity issues are nothing to get excited about.) but never as good as when the two are facing off against each other. No blood, no Baterangs, just good, solid Chinese kick ass.

Sure, The Forbidden Kingdom may not be the rough a tumble pairing we thought we always wanted from Jet and Jackie but don't rob yourself of this magical adventure. I admit that it’s not the movie I wanted, but I never could have imagined this. It’s like if Bruce Lee played the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz – that’s how good the The Forbidden Kingdom is. The Forbidden Kingdom forgets what we want and instead gives us what we need. Even if we didn’t know we needed it.

Rating: 8 out of 10 - If I had to point out a flaw I would say the movie drags a bit in the middle. I think it makes up for a sluggish pace with a great sense of humor and really fun ideas. It’s a fair trade in my book. Something else I neglected to mention in the review, and that will most definitely be referenced to you by any of your friends that did see the movie, is the pissing scene. One of the characters takes a very controversial Golden Shower. It’s played here for laughs and somehow goes beyond a simple dick and fart joke. I wasn’t sure if I should be offended or not at the time, but the kids in the theater thought it was funny and I’m pretty sure it was innocent laughter. Here’s hoping it’s not a case of “monkey see/monkey do” though. The last thing we need is an outbreak of kids pissing all over each other.

I was charmed by The Forbidden Kingdom last spring when it was released, but if you’d asked me then if it was DVD worthy I’m not sure I could have given you a dependable answer. Having lived with the movie for a couple weeks and gone on the adventure a few more times I can now say that I don’t know what I’d do without it. My DVD collection would be incomplete without the sleeper gem of a movie that I look forward to revisiting and sharing with my family in the years to come.

My comic counter part was more concerned with the language gap than I was, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t something that had crossed my mind. Jet and Jackie are a force in cinema, but they’re known more for their forceful nature then their biting tongues. It’s always been more fun to watch them kick ass than talk smack, and part of that has been because of the language barrio.

In Kingdom it’s not a real issue. Some lines feel forced and unnatural but I think the two of them have spent enough time in front of the camera to know how to emote beyond the lines. Jackie as the drunken immortal and Jet in his Monkey King outfit really commit to the goofiness and humor needed to make those parts work. The language barrier was obviously an issue, but it’s nothing to get upset about.

The Wizard of Oz - I’ve mentioned Oz and Bruce Lee films with loving nostalgia already in this review, but chose the adventure of a young Kansas girl takesn to a far away land for the direct comparison because it’s truer to the fantasy that The Forbidden Kingdom perfectly encapsulates. Both movies are about journeys to mysterious lands inhabited by strange new creatures that make the impossible seem possible. On their journeys, the heroine and the hero learn something about themselves and grow in the process and that’s an important comparison.

It’s such a classic form of storytelling that I feel has been lost over the years. Perhaps the “Was it real or was it only a dream?” scenario has been written off as a cheap way to avoid properly explaining a complicated situation, but if it’s good enough for Dorothy and Toto it’s good enough for Jet and Jackie.

In Kingdom I found it to be a comforting reminder of simpler times when I didn’t worry about plot holes or cheap tricks. A time where I would suspend belief in favor of having a good time. Since I decided to criticize films I’ve become the guy that’s looking for the flaws or looking for the explanations, and I don’t think I enjoy movies as much as I used to. I’m not looking for reasons why a movie is a modern classic; I’m looking for reasons why it’s not. That kind of stinks.

The Forbidden Kingdom will never likely achieve the kind of admiration and that Oz or Bruce Lee have, but I’ll certainly do my best to make sure my kids are exposed to this brilliant adventure.

To any of you that live in the Baltimore area, Phil, Irv and I will be attending the Baltimore Comic Con this weekend. This is one of our favorite shows to do. Such a great crowd of traditional comic fans that love the format for all the right reasons. If you’re in the area be sure to stop by. I’ll be doing sketches, and well have a few new items up for sale. It should be fun.

Before I close shop for the day I wanted to reference an e-mail I got recently. Believe it or not it was for a wonderful young man who thanked me for recommending Kate and Leopold. In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been dropping in the occasional reference to this classic sci-fi romantic comedy in the comic from time to time, and it’s by no mistake. I ADORE this movie. I know it’s silly, I know I’m silly for loving it, but I think it’s a well-told, well-performed sweet little movie.

For this reader to contact me with a big thank you meant the world to me. He is now my brother. My Kate and Leopold brother, and we shall face all time traveling love Hollywood throws at us as brothers! Give us your Lake Houses and 13 Going on 30s - they shall all bow down before Kate and Leo! I guess my real point is that if you also like the movie – you’re not alone.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading!

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Joe – The creator of the strip who has embraced giving crappy movies the chance they deserve. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.

First Appearance - The Introduction

Yeo – Yeo is Joe’s wife and often the voice of reason in the strip. Having her act rational allows the rest of the cast to embrace being in a comic strip which primarily involves randomly punching people, interacting with fictional characters and talking about boobs. Yeo is smart, beautiful and way too good for Joe. Don’t tip her off.

First Appearance - Fever Pitch

Irv – Joe’s movie-going sidekick who’s always down for watching Jason Statham crescent moon kick some thug through a plate glass window and getting some drinks before after and during a Vin Diesel movie. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.

First Appearance - Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior

Agent 337 George Jones – A government Agent that took over for Joe after he was bad-mouthing President Bush in the V for Vendetta strip. George ran the show for over a month bring a much needed sense of patriotism and justice to both the strips and reviews. He eventually got too attached to his work, empathizing with Joe’s plight to give crappy movies a fair shake. In a way he came to love crappy movies as well and was pushed out of the position. He spiraled out of control and ended up in prison. His adventures will be told in the limited series JLCM Presents: 337 Locked Up which is set to début Christmas of 09.

First Appearance - V for Vendetta

Other Notable Appearances: Stay Alive, Ice age 2, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Slither, Here Comes Guest week, Let’s Go To Prison

Leonidas – The former king of Sparta who has traveled into the future and is having trouble coping with the modern times. Yelling loudly and kicking people into giant holes doesn’t really work the same way it did in the olden days. As time as gone by he’s adjusted but it’s a safe bet that he’s always one bad message away from throwing a spear through someone.

First Appearance - 300

Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Strip# 300, The Golden Compass, Rambo, Untraceable, The Ladies of Max Paybe

Palpatine – Former Senator, Emperor of the Galactic Empire, Sith Lord... He shows up in the Joe Loves Crappy movies galaxy on occasion to let people know that they’re being stupid. No one’s really sure how he shows up in this universe but chances are it breaks all kinds of copywrite laws.

First Appearance - Episode III: The Dark Side

Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Night Watch, Saw 3, Are We Done Yet

Slow Billy – Billy is a sweet kid but he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. If you’re watching him for the day be prepared to explain to him the plot of the movie or how popcorn works or, not so much where babies come from, but what babies are. He’s a complete moron.

First Appearance - Four Brothers

Other Notable Appearances: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Da Vinci Code, Vantage Point, Journey to the Center of the Earth

Kyle the Movie Snob – Be careful what fun facts about movies you tell your friends at a friendly gathering or in line for the latest blockbuster, because if you’re even slightly wrong, Kyle will be more than happy to let you know. He usually gets what’s coming to him though. Poor guy has cracked three ribs since joining the JLCM cast.

First Appearance - Ultraviolet

Other Notable Appearances: 16 Blocks, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Transformers, Journey to the Center of the Earth

Jean-Luc Picard – Another lawsuit waiting to happen is Jean Luc Picard who, towards the end of the strip’s first year, became the go-to background character. If there was ever a seat to fill or a random person to place wandering around in the background, nine times out of ten it was Picard. While Picard has crossed paths with Irv he and Joe have never met. Perhaps they will some day but for now just can an eye on the background.

First Appearance - The Producers

Other Notable Appearances: I’m not telling you, that’s no fun. It’ like Where’s Waldo – go find him!

Ice Cream Sandwich – Delicious and… deadly? Usually when you see someone eating an Ice Cream sandwich, someone else is experiencing a substantial amount of pain. Still, how nice is an ice cream sandwich on a hot summer day?

First Appearance - Saw IV

Other Notable Appearances: Bee Movie, Run Fatboy Run, Saw V