One More Footnote to Martial Art Movies

Now that it’s getting a second follow-up post, I think The Forbidden Kingdom is officially the thing (not written by me) that I’ve written the most about.

Now that it’s getting a second follow-up post, I think The Forbidden Kingdom is officially the thing (not written by me) that I’ve written the most about.

That wasn’t really my intent, and perhaps implies that The Forbidden Kingdom is having more influence on my that it actually does. Though it is indeed a pretty cool and quite enjoyable movie.

A Stone Lion outside a traditional Chinese building.
Photo by Magda Ehlers on

Basically, in reading more about The Forbidden Kingdom, I’ve found a couple pieces of trivia that are interesting to be worth sharing. The first was really just the opportunity to do a Journey to the West themed doodle.

This one.

The second was a piece of cinematic trivia about The Forbidden Kingdom’s two stars.

Getting to that, you’ll remember, perhaps, that the biggest draw when The Forbidden Kingdom was first released was the opportunity to see Jackie Chan and Jet Li fight.

Jet Li and Jackie Chan in the film "The Forbidden Kingdom".
You’ll also remember that I couldn’t get a good picture of the actual fight scene.
The Forbidden Kingdom: Lionsgate.

You’ll also remember that I described Jackie Chan’s character in the movie as one big call-back to his earlier famous roles in Drunken Master and its sequel.

In the Drunken Master movies, Jackie Chan is playing (a highly fictionalised version of) real martial artist and Cantonese folk hero Wong Fei-hung.

Which is significant because Jet Li has also played Wong Fei-hung.

Two people sparring in an unspecified martial art.
I’m not sure what specific martial art this is supposed to be, but this picture does serve an illustrative purpose for a post about martial arts…
Photo by RODNAE Productions on

It’s less of a coincidence than it sounds.

Wong Fei-hung is one of China’s most famous martial artists and has, according to Wikipedia, been the subject of 123 films — including, incidentally, 77 where he was portrayed by the same actor, the record for number of times the same actor has played the same character.

So, yeah, it’s an interesting footnote to talking about The Forbidden Kingdom, but maybe not that interest. Maybe a bit like noting that two famous British actors have both been Hamlet.

The contrast between the two portrayals are pretty interesting, though — I’m sure you could write a solid mid-level Film Studies paper about it. Though, of course, if you’re going to, I demand a citation in your bibliography.

The Drunken Master movies are comedic movies, which is pretty much Jackie Chan’s thing. The Once Upon a Time in China movies are much more serious and unironic action movies.

And they’ve both got awesome theme songs.

Final sidebar: Jackie Chan is also classically trained in Chinese opera and has done several of his own theme songs, including this one. Sidebar to the sidebar: he was also Mulan’s commanding officer in the Chinese dub of Mulan.

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