Most of my blog posts are purely technical, but every now and then I post something different. Like this post about my favorite movies that combine Chinese mythology, American characters and culture, martial arts, and fantasy. Let me be the first to say that many of these movies aren’t very good. But I like this genre.
1. Forbidden Kingdom (2008) – A bullied American teenager, Jason, is magically transported to ancient China. He meets a wanderer (Jackie Chan), a monk (Jet Li), a beautiful girl, an evil white-haired witch, and many others. After many adventures, Jason frees the Monkey King and helps defeat the evil Jade Warlord. I give this movie a solid A grade, but most of my friends aren’t as impressed.
2. Big Trouble in Little China (1986) – Irresponsible Jack (Kurt Russell) helps his Chinese pal Wang to rescue Wang’s kidnapped girlfriend Miao (Suzee Pai). Miao has green eyes and consummation of her forced marriage to the evil Lo Pan will grant Lo Pan eternal life. A wildly creative and entertaining movie that holds up well after 30 years. I give it an A grade.
3. Enter the Warrior’s Gate (2016) – A video game-playing teenager, Jack, is transported to ancient China. He must use his skills to rescue the beautiful princess from an evil king (Dave Bautista). Story by Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, Valerian) and is very entertaining. Didn’t do very well at the box office. My grade = B+.
4. The Great Wall (2016) – In ancient China, travelling rogue and mercenary William (Matt Damon) and his pal Tovar are taken prisoner by Chinese soldiers. The Great Wall of China is the only defense against ancient alien-monsters that emerge from underground every 60 years. A lot of action – almost too much action – in this film. My grade = B.
5. The Man with Iron Fists (2012) – Sometime in the 1700s in China, Englishman Jack (Russell Crowe) is secretly an agent of the Emperor and is tasked with helping to guard a shipment of gold as it passes through a rough and wild village. Lots of bad guys want the gold. Madame Blossom (Lucy Liu) is the owner of a brothel. The village blacksmith has his arms cut off but they’re replaced by iron arms. Oh, and one of the bad guys (Dave Bautista) can turn into bronze. Crazy, entertaining (but gory) movie. My grade = B.
6. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008) – In the 1940s, adventurer Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser) and his wife, and their friend face off against an ancient, not-very-nice Chinese mummy. Lots of action and good special effects, but the plot was a bit too haphazard and random for me. My grade = B-.
7. Bulletproof Monk (2003) – In the modern day, an older-than-he-looks monk (Chow Yun-Fat) must guard a magic scroll and find an heir to pass his responsibilities to. Petty thief Kar (Seann William Scott) bumps into The Monk. Is Kar destined for great things? My grade = C+.
8. Mortal Kombat (1995) – A fighting monk, Liu Kang, a movie actor, Johnny Cage, and a military gal, Sonya Blade, are coached by the god Raiden (Christopher Lambert) in a fighting tournament to save the Earth. They do. Princess Kitana helps. This movie was a surprise hit at the box office and is a guilty pleasure for many people (including me). My grade = C+.
9. The Medallion (2003) – Modern day Hong Kong policeman Eddie (Jackie Chan) must protect a young boy who is The Chosen One, and prevent a magic medallion from falling into the hands of the bad guys headed by Snakehead. My grade = C.
10. Warriors of Virtue (1997) – Young boy Ryan is the runt of his school. He is magically transported to the fantasy world of Tao inhabited by all kinds of creatures including giant kangaroo-warriors. The evil sorcerer Komodo wants to gain possession of a magic manuscript. This movie got terrible reviews but I found it moderately entertaining. My grade = C.