At the beginning of the 1990s, famous tomb explorer Hu Bayi decided to retire with his fiancée Shirley. But before his wedding, Bayi discovers his first love Ding Shitian, who had supposedly died 20 years ago, is actually still alive.
I love Asian action movies. Only in the past couple of years have I really come to understand and appreciate them. I’m not talking about classic Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan, they go without saying, I’m talking modern-day action/adventure films that put most Hollywood so-called blockbusters to shame. I had heard about “Mojin: The Lost Legend” a while back and the trailer and posters gave me goosebumps, a real adventure movie in the vein of Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones. But alas, my excitement was quickly laid to rest.
The movie starts off promisingly enough; Hu Bayi (Chen Kun), his girlfriend Shirley (Shu Qi), and his best friend Wang Kaixuan (Huang Bo), are tomb raiders in search of hidden treasure in 1980s China. The trio are famed for their methods in discovering buried riches and tombs long forgotten but lately, their dry spell has forced them to take on dangerous, supernatural quests that most other adventurers avoid. After they barely escape their latest mission with their lives and no treasure in tow, Hu and Wang move to America where they wind up homeless on the streets.
Shirley manages to track them down and offers Hu the opportunity to become a U.S. citizen if he marries her, this way, he can get a legitimate job and together, they can work towards a future together. With Wang constantly nagging Hu to go back to China and resume their treasure-seeking ways, Hu informs him that those days are over and considers taking up Shirley’s proposal. Shortly thereafter, they receive a video tape in the mail, it is from Wang who is in Mongolia, going after the famed and up until now, mythical Equinox Flower, rumored to have the power to resurrect the dead.
Against their better judgment, Hu and Shirley make their way to Mongolia to back up Wang and it’s a good thing they do as he has teamed up with some unsavory characters who claim they want the Equinox Flower for the betterment of all mankind. Naturally, they show their true colors and after escaping their clutches, our heroic trio must race ahead of them and discover the flower before they do.
The movie is all over the place and it’s quite apparent early on, that director Wuershan is undoubtedly inspired by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson but try as he may, this film is no “Raiders of the Lost Ark” or “Lord of the Rings.” The film is fraught with adolescent and infantile humor that quite often, takes over the story to nauseating effect. What efforts are made to try and inject some element of character exposition, fall flat on their face with the constant barrage of juvenile buffoonery.
The movie does boast, at times, some exciting cinematography and expansive set-pieces but sadly, they are not enough to save the movie. If you want to see a real adventure, go watch “Raiders of the Lost Ark” instead.
In select theaters now
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