Review: THE TREASURE HUNTER 刺陵 (2009) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Review: THE TREASURE HUNTER 刺陵 (2009)


Another Chu Yen-Ping, Jay Chou and Eric Tsang collaboration. Another instant recipe for disaster. And that is certainly rings true for them. Two years after the awful KUNG FU DUNK (2007), their latest venture, THE TREASURE HUNTER, is a poor man's rip-off of INDIANA JONES and THE MUMMY. Of course no doubt Jackie Chan's highly-popular action adventures ARMOUR OF GOD (1986) and OPERATION CONDOR (1991) are hundred times better. Even a forgettable fluff like Jet Li's DR. WAI IN "THE SCRIPTURE WITH NO WORDS" (1996) is at least enjoyable than this crappy effort. Go figure. 

The plot: Jay Chou is Ciao Fei, a long-haired and whip-equipped adventurer who wanders around fulfilling his duty to prevent grave robbers from removing ancient treasures from their resting location. When his old flame Lan Ting (Lin Chi-Ling), a mystery novelist whose father (Kenneth Tsang) was murdered by a gang of unknown villains, Ciao Fei finds himself drawn into the quest for the "Lost City", a place believes to contain a fortune in lost gold. Not only that, the place also housed a mystical perarl and some sort of ancient curse that previously wiped out a group of adventurers. Coincidentally, the lone survivor of that ill-fated adventurers is the crazed Hua (Chen Daoming) who also interested for the "Lost City" as well. Joining the quest is the bumbling Pork Rib (Eric Tsang), who co-operates alongside with Hua. Naturally, this motley group stumble against each other. Conflicts and secrets ensue and the adventure begins. 
Sounds like fun, except that director Chu Yen-Ping has little idea how to mix a potentially interesting story and action into something intriguing or entertaining. Despite the involvement of award-winning screenwriter Ivy Ho of COMRADES, ALMOST A LOVE STORY fame, the plot is disappointingly cut-rate and terribly uninspired. Any sense of originality is totally out of question here, while the characters are strictly one-dimensional bore. 
To top that, emotion is zero as well. Jay Chou looks dashing for his rugged adventurer part, but too bad he doesn't have the certain engaging persona to pull it off completely. Lin Chi-Ling, who first burst into acting role in the two-parter RED CLIFF, is certainly beautiful to look at but her acting skill remains questionable. Their much-anticipated chemistry shows little spark, not to mention their forced romantic moments as well. 
Perhaps the biggest problem lies here is everything in this film wasted too much precious time on fillers after fillers and there's hardly depth whatsoever. Not even the presence of Ching Siu-Tung can help much either. Action sequences are cheap-looking and exaggerated with over-the-top wireworks, and the overall excitement is painfully routine. The ending is especially pathetic, and awfully anti-climatic. 
For all the budget spent for its location shoot, special effects and all, this film is a monumental waste of time. Completing the level of awfulness is the song "Dai Wo Fei (Take Me Flying)" sung out in the end credit by Lin Chi-Ling. It's a potentially beautiful ballad but the song is almost ruined by her shaky pitching voice. 
Count this as among the most disappointed film of the year alongside with THE STORM WARRIORS.

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