Adopted from the novel Gui Chui Deng by Tinn Xia Ba Chang, who also served as the film's script consultant, Mojin: The Lost Legend debuts on Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital HD today, Tuesday, May 3rd from Well Go USA Entertainment. This review is based on the Blu-ray release
Directed by Wuershan (Painted Skin: The Resurrection), the film centers on the exploits of three tomb raiders: Hu Bayi (Chen Kun, Snowgirl and the Dark Crystal), Shirley Yang (the always watchable Shu Qi, The Assassin), and Wang Kai Xuan (Huang Bo, Lost in Thailand and Journey to the West). It also features Angelababy (the stage name of Angela Yeung WIng, Tai Chi Zero and Tai Chi Hero) as Ding Sitian.
|Seeing the Twin Towers was unexpected, but appropriate for the film's time frame|
In 1988, after one of their capers turns out badly, Hu, Shirley, and Wang retire from tomb raiding and move to New York City. (Just why and how this was achieved is never really addressed; it probably has more to do with someone's desire to film in New York more than anything plot-related.) As a New Yorker who was present when the 9/11 terrorist attacks took place, I was briefly taken out of the movie when, at about eight and a half minutes into it, there was a view from Brooklyn looking across the East River with the Twin Towers in the background. I forgot the time period being depicted for a moment, and only later realized that it was necessary because a significant flashback occurs roughly twenty years earlier, during Mao's Cultural Revolution.
|Shirley leads Hu (behind her right arm), Wang (behind her left shoulder) and others in the quest for the Equinox Flower|
Ms. Ying Caihong, the President of Global Mining Company and leader of the Global Holy Disciplinary Institution, a strange cult, seeks the Equinox Flower, which is said to only exist at the limbo of Yin and Yang and which is believed to connect the living and the dead, to open the gate to the underworld and bring the dead back to life. After Wang decides to go back to China to locate it for her, Shirley and Hu follow.
|Corporate and cult leader Ying Caihong (in white) with her followers|
There are vast sets and loads of adrenaline pumping action. CGI is employed rather extensively, but it's of a very high quality. There's also some very fine make-up work done on one of the characters.
|One of the film's vast sets|
I came to think of Mojin: The Lost Legend as a Chinese blending of the Tomb Raider (Angelina Jolie, 2001 and 2003) and The Mummy (Brendan Fraser, 1999, 2001, and 2008) series of fils. All-in-all, it was a very enjoyable watch.
-- Making of featurette (4:00)
-- Behind the Scenes
-- Chen Kun (3:32)
-- Huang Bo (3:24)
-- Trailer (1:57)
AsianCineFest Rating: 3 out of 4 stars; recommended