A Jungian's look at The Forbidden Kingdom


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"If you die here, then you will be dead in the other world," says Jackie Chan. His new student in the martial arts listens in surprise, but does not yet understand "the words that are coming out of" his mouth. Suddenly, it dawned upon me to watch the Forbidden Kingdom Jungian style.

Before meeting Jackie Chan, the movie begins with this guy looking for a few Kung Fu movies in a Chinese movie shop. Later, he meets up with a few bullies who beat him down, and then they make him go to the Chinese movie shop with them so that they can rob the owner of all his money. All hell breaks loose in the shop, so the old man ends up getting shot, but the boy scrambles out with a mysterious looking staff, only to fall about 10 or 15 feet and land flat on his back onto the hard paved road in a back alley. This is where he lay unconscious and the journey, or dream, begins.

Now lets consider the words of Jackie Chan again: "If you die here, then you will be dead in the other world." In other words, "If you die here in your inner world, then you will be dead in the exterior world," of which is the world that the boy seeks to return, but will he begin his hero journey here in his inner world, where he must defeat the Shadow? Just as Jackie Chan is leaving the boy due to his unbelief, the boy asks, "Will you teach me Kung Fu?" The answer requires just a bit more background information.

When the two first meet, Jackie Chan, the great drunken master, believed in the boy because he held the Monkey King's staff, and while watching the movie, I kept thinking of what the golden staff could be a symbol for. I was thinking that perhaps the staff is a symbol for the truth about ourselves that remains hidden and yet to be discovered, or unhidden and already discovered; for everybody recognizes him as the prophesized one due to his ownership of the staff, but he never opens his eyes to the way everybody sees him in his inner world. Even his enemies are threatened by the boy's presence, which is a prophecy, a foretelling that the Monkey King would be awakened after 500 years of remaining frozen as hard as rock inside his prison of stone. Once the Monkey King is given the staff, he will be free. However, the boy does not yet "know himself," so when he continues on pestering Jackie about wanting to go home and forgetting about this entire thing, Jackie declares, "You are hopeless!" Obviously the boy felt hopeless! Therefore, Jackie is leaving, but the boy is persistent and does not give up. By asking him to be his teacher, Jackie concedes to his request.

Yo, we can have a field day with this! There is so much symbolism here. In my opinion, Jackie Chan and Jet Li are archetypes that act and contain the character of angels, specifically guardian angels. Their sole purpose is to make sure that the boy gives the staff to the Monkey King, but he must first confront all those nasty enemies. They cannot defeat the Shadow for him. No, the boy must kill the Warlord, repeat his journey again, or give up and quit. The Shadow, who is basically an archetype for Satan, also has henchmen, and both tell dark truths about oneself. For example, the bad girl, who looks like Storm, tells the boy that he is a misfit following a bunch of misfits. She reminds the group of four of their failures in life, for instance. Of course, the failures are ture. As soon as they reach the Shadow, the boy faces his biggest fear. Metaphorically speaking it is now time to behead his fear! Eventually he kills the Shadow and frees the Monkey King. The Monkey King is the Self in Jungian terms. Well, that is what I understand.

What did you see in The Forbidden Kingdom through the eyes of Jungian theory?
I like Jungian theory but haven't yet seen The Forbidden Kingdom so can't comment.
Quite a good film, prefer the original monkey series... Way better :D there can only be one Monkey king... It's like willy wonka... A newer more popular character playing the role, and it still doesn't compare.

I am unaware of this original monkey series you speak of. Hey, is it the video that the kid wakes up to in his room? I noticed that the soldiers are dressed the same way in both.
It's mainly just about the monkey king.

Monkey Heaven

It was a cult classic as a kid and still is (In England) Seeing as you paid alot of attention to the film you should have noticed at the start(ish) when that american kid wakes up there is a TV to the left of his bed playing a movie(Monkey) The man with the gold crown in red and yellow is the original monkey :D
Monkey was one of the most unusual and best of the late 70s cult classics. Not seen this film so no comment on it. But I do wonder what Japanese stories have to do with Jung and how it all links in. Need to look for it.