For what it's worth, I had rather enjoyed the first Kevin Chu - Jay Chou cinematic collaboration in Kung Fu Dunk. Thinking that their follow up film in The Treasure Hunter would be somewhere along the same vein, despite the obvious lifts from films such as Indiana Jones, The Mummy franchise and just about every desert based Hollywood film out there, I'd had rather they really go all out to copy those elements outright, than to come up with this half baked film doomed with a nonsensical story plagued with bad acting throughout.
I suppose the pairing of two of the hottest Taiwanese celebrities in Jay Chou and Lin Chiling (after her maiden outing in John Woo's Red Cliff) would be a no brainer, except that the attempt here is pretty much lame (oh how I hate to use this word), since a supposed romance turned out to be worse than the indecisive ones faced by the lovebirds from Twilight. Here there is absolutely zero chemistry between the leads, in a romance that's plagued by a courtship full of crap dialogue that will make you foam in the mouth, and a love that's so cloy and coy, that it'll make Bella and Edward look like they actually know what they're doing.
Lin Chiling had admitted that her character Lan Ting was done in a chaste manner so as not to ire Jay Chou's female fans, but I thought that is only an excuse, since the film had only one cheesy seduction scene to boast of, and even that came across as quite amateurish. Then again, perhaps this is not a romance film, but one steeped in action and adventure, since Jay Chou's character has a stylish name in Qiao Fei, some incredible powers a couple of notches up against Indiana Jones, and with a morally upright calling in life to return all antiques to their rightful place?
Wrong on that count as well. In fact, this is more of an unintentional comedy with some really bad villains who pop up now and then just to satisfy their sado-masochistic tendencies in having their arses kicked by Qiao Fei. There's a mummy man who looked as if he stepped out of a toilet wrapped from head to toe with toilet paper that just won't run out, a ghoul and a gang leader decked out in armour which were nothing more than sideshow villains, and a group of common thugs termed the Sandstorm Legion (ooh) who decided their outing should involve pulling down the structure of the only bar in the middle of nowhere. Or how about the "mysterious" desert eagle who's supposed to be the messiah and guardian of all things surrounded by sand dunes?
The entire film is one big schizophrenic affair in not knowing what it wants to do with itself, other than to milk the money off fans of Jay Chou and Lin Chiling (if she has any to begin with). Characters are tossed around with zero motivation or purpose, being in the film for the sake of. There's absolutely no plot here other than everyone trying to get their hands on a treasure map first, then to follow the markings to some mysterious area as marked out for the promise of treasure. Yawn.
And in between there's Chen Daoming and Eric Tsang (allowed in the film to switch between Cantonese and Mandarin) with the former being a poser, and the latter being the loud mouth, complementing each other as a duo out on their last adventure, one having plenty of emo moments to reflect upon, which is uninteresting to begin with. For the most parts they look like a lost duo roaming around waiting to pass time, contributing to the ensemble of wandering, mindless characters talking rubbish, given the nonsensical plot. Then again, having 5 writers contributing succumbed to the adage of having too many cooks, and one wonders if all had been smoking something to write something so comical as this film.
If there are those who are still holding on to slivers of hope that Kevin Chu can still make a decent film, this one will pulp all that to the ground pronto. The film's all over the place, with laughable action sequences. Clearly he has some fantasies about the good old dynamite sticks which can blow up like cluster bombs, or got too engrossed in the special effects that, hmm, what's the point of it all again?
There's one thing this film confirms though, it's that Jay Chou cannot act and his game is up - he's a one-expression chap made to look good thanks to wire-fu stunts. That however does not bode well for his Hollywood stint as Kato, since he has huge shoes to fill in, that of Bruce Lee's. I hope for the sake of The Green Hornet that he would have done miles better than this terribly dismal effort, clearly made just to milk off his popularity and the festive period.
One of the worst movies this year, and definitely not something that you'd want to ruin your start to 2010 with. Avoid at all costs, even the DVD.