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Genre: Action/Fantasy
Starring: Jay Chou, Lin Chiling, Chen Daoming, Eric Tsang, Miao Pu, River Chen, Will Liu, Kenneth Tsang
Director: Kevin Chu
Rating: PG
Year Made: 2009



- Jay Chou Interview




Languages: Mandarin
Subtitles: English/Chinese/Malay
Aspect Ratio: 16x9
Sound: Dolby Digital
Running Time: 1 hr 46 mins
Region Code: 3
Distributor: Scorpio East
Official Website:




In the northwest desert where countless prosperous dynasties have flourish and fallen, there is rumour of a buried treasure of unbelievable riches. A group of mysterious guardians have kept the map to the location of the treasure safe, until a fierce rivalry erupts. A notorious international crime group, The Company hunt down the map keepers and before they manage to secure it, the keeper passes the map to a young chivalrous man Ciao Fei. Ciao Fei is forced to give up the map to save the live of his mentor's daughter Lan Ting. Teaming up with Hua Ding Bang and Lan Ting they embark on a dangerous journey to recover the map and fight to protect the ancient treasure.


I can think of many ways to spend NT$5 billion dollars (S$22 million) and not one of them would be on this absolute wreck of a film. Yes, this reviewer will unreservedly tell you that he has declared this Kevin Chu film the worst movie of 2009, and to warn you most ardently to stay well away from this stinker.

It’s tempting to think that “The Treasure Hunter” is Asia’s answer to Hollywood’s Indiana Jones, but the reality is anything but. First, Indiana Jones had a genuine sense of fun and adventure; “The Treasure Hunter” unfortunately has none. In its own self-importance, it tries to spin some yarn involving some mystical protector of ancient treasures in the desert called “The Eagle of the Desert” and a quest to uncover what has been hidden for centuries. All well and good, had “The Treasure Hunter” actually decided it was going to be about that.

Thanks to its motley team of screenwriters (a total of five, with Ivy Ho at the helm), there is not one plot strand that is properly developed. Besides “The Eagle”, it also tells of some Sandstorm Legion, a city of drifters led by Sword Thirteen, an archaeologist Hua Ding Bang (Chen Daoming) also in search of the treasure and some other mambo-jumbo about The Lost City. It’s best if you’d not bother to take an interest in any of them- for if you do, the distinct lack of interest on the writers’ part will certainly make you even more frustrated.

Part of the reason Indiana Jones was so enjoyable was also the fact that Indiana Jones, himself, was a cool dude, the kind of big-screen hero we all love to watch. Not Jay Chou’s equivalent, Qiao Fei, though- the whip may be intact, but Qiao Fei as played by Chou is a stone-faced desert adventurer capable of only three expression, one with both eyebrows down looking cool, another with one eyebrow up looking cool and the last with both eyebrows up trying to look surprised.

Indeed, you might quite well say that it’s gotten quite tiring watching Jay Chou play essentially the same type of laconic character in all his films, and “The Treasure Hunter” might just be the final straw. Of course, the script does him no justice by having him spout the most absolutely cringe-worthy lines to Lin Chiling’s novelist Lan Ting around a fire in the middle of the desert. Had this been some adolescent romance, we would have been more tolerant; in a swashbuckling adventure this tries to be, it is terribly out of place.

Speaking of which, despite the involvement of renowned action director Ching Siu-Tong, the action sequences in “The Treasure Hunter” are nothing short of disappointing. True, it’s admirable that Jay Chou decided to do most of the stunts himself, but it’s all too obvious that he is being pulled in this and that direction by some handy wires attached to his body. The wire-ful action is not helped by gaudy CGI, which only make the supposed action-packed part of the adventure even more distasteful.

Perhaps the only redeeming quality in the movie is its production design (courtesy of Yee Chung-Man). The widescreen lensing of the desert-scapes are beautiful, just as the cornucopia of details that have gone into the various locations in the film- definitely worthy of a Hollywood production. Pity then that the movie wastes what potential it had of becoming the fun-filled action adventure audiences were looking for, staging something so dull and tedious it’s as arid as the desert.


Jay Chou Interview -
Apparently, Jay Chou really believes that Lin Chiling can act, or that he has to work hard at convincing you so. Either way, he reiterates that point many times throughout this promotional interview. We’d like to hear what he thinks of his own performance after watching it.


The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio holds up surprisingly well during the film’s action scenes even for a surround sound experience when paired with a decent home-theatre system. Visuals could be sharper and many scenes are grainier than should be (and no, it’s not because of the swirling sand in the desert location).



Review by Gabriel Chong

Posted on 8 February 2010


. The Treasure Hunter (Movie Review)

. The Treasure Hunter Singapore Press Conference

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. The Sniper

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. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

. High School Musical 2: Extended Edition

. Pixar Short Films Volume One

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. The Jungle Book

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This review is made possible with the kind support from Scorpio East


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