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.
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.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
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
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).
by Gabriel Chong
Posted on 8 February 2010