Director: Wu Ershan
Cast: Chen Kun, Angelababy, Shu Qi, Huang Bo, Xia Yu, Cherry Ngan, Liu Xiao Qing
Runtime: 2 hrs 5 min
Rating: PG13 (Some Violence)
Released By: Shaw
Opening Day: 7 January 2016
Synopsis: Mojin-The Lost Legend is an epic fantasy adventure about a trio of legendary grave robbers. While relishing retired civilian life on the mean streets of New York City hawking goods, they are approached by a shady client. Before long, the three get thrown back into the job, raiding the secrets and treasures of ancient tombs in China, risking their friendship and even their lives on the tumultuous journey.
There are enough reasons to be excited about this action fantasy thriller. It stars Huang Bo, the Beijing Film Academy graduate who delivered top notch performances as Sun Wukong in Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons (2013) and a father in search of his lost child in Dearest (2014). His co star is the ridiculously good looking Chen Kun, who has appeared in blockbusters like Painted Skin: The Resurrection (2012) and Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon (2013). Accompanying the two men is the gorgeous Shu Qi, who has been receiving international acclaim for her restrainedly powerful role in The Assassin (2015).
The supporting cast is equally worthy – there’s Mrs Huang Xiaoming Angelababy, as well as veterans Xia Yu (Breakup Buddies) and Liu Xiaoqing (Legendary Amazons). There’s also the up and coming Hong Kong actress Cherry Ngan (The Way We Dance) in the mix.
With a stellar cast like this, what’s there not to like about the 125 minute movie which reportedly cost US$37 million to make?
At first glance, the movie directed by Wuershan (The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman) and produced by Chen Kuo Fu (You Are The One) seems like an Asian rip off of adventure franchises like Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider (check out the, ahem, not so inspired costume donned by the leads). There are enough elements to make film snobs go all critical about this commercial flick – the bombastic action sequences, the very loud soundtrack score, the countless scenes incorporating computer generated effects and the formulaic plot are just some of the things that a harsh film reviewer will list in his no bars held article.
But this columnist has always believed that there is a reason behind every movie production. Just look at the two big names behind this movie – Dalian Wanda Group and Huayi Brothers. Did you really think the folks behind these conglomerates were out to make a small, independent film to make viewers go all melancholic and reflect on life?
You’ll have to look beyond its straightforward storyline – a group of retired tomb raiders deciding to make one final heist to retrieve a flower which supposedly has the power to raise the dead.
If you are at the movies to enjoy a blockbuster with action and effects, this one is for you. There are enough scary flying creatures, grotesque zombies, loud explosions and picturesque sets to keep you entertained throughout the two hours. It helps that the actors are likeable in their own rights. Huang is again a natural, effortlessly playing a character who you want to root for. Chen and Shu quibble over love, but you know all’s going to be good before the end credits run.
The supporting cast doesn’t have this fortune though. Xia is a hustler bordering on being irritating, while Liu holds her aged face together to play a creepy religious cult leader. Ngan is a Japanese (we don’t get this) sidekick with little to do.
However, if you are simply searching for pure popcorn entertainment, this is one movie worth your time. The movie grossed US$92 million from Friday to Sunday, making it the third best opening weekend ever for a Chinese movie. The numbers do indeed speak for themselves.
(The epic adventure blockbuster may be formulaic, but it is solid popcorn entertainment for the masses)
Review by John Li