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TREASURE HUNTER, THE

SYNOPSIS:
Ancient treasures of past dynasties - including a famed lost city - lie hidden beneath the vast desert, guarded by fierce and magical warriors, led by the fearsome Desert Eagle (River Chen). When a gang of tomb raiders kidnaps the lovely young Lan Ting (Lin Chi-ling) they demand the secret map to the lost city for her return. In a violent confrontation, the protector of ancient relics, the swashbuckling Ciao Fei (Jay Chou) saves Lan Ting, and the gang escape with the map. Joined by the sole survivor of a previous expedition to the lost city, archaeologist Hua Dingbang (Daoming Chen) and opportunist Pork Rib (Eric Tseng), Ciao Fei and Lan Ting set off on a wild and dangerous adventure to find the gang ... and the lost city, said to be filled with treasure.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The plot of The Treasure Hunter tends to get a bit garbled and is proudly derivative of other adventure films with secret buried treasure and lots of desert sand. But it does have a couple of extra layers and is made with great energy, plenty of martial arts action, a handful of effects and dressed with top notch production design.

In December 2009, The Storm Warriors scored the second highest opening box office for a Chinese language film in Australia; The Treasure Hunter may well equal or even surpass it, with Taiwanese singer/actor star Jay Chou as the romantic male lead and the lovely Lin Chi-ling from John Woo's Red Cliff as Lan Ting, the girl trying to learn more about her dead father. Both young stars deliver solid performances, Jay Chou playing the ultra cool hero in pursuit of the lost city under the desert, and Lin Chi-ling the lovely heroine with a day job as a writer of adventure novels. There is a hint of romance between them - just enough to make the film a date movie - and enough comedy to make the film happy escapism.

The two leads are well supported by an enthusiastic cast, especially Eric Tseng as the hilarious opportunist, Pork Rib, the comic relief whose likeable face often breaks into an infectious laugh as he struts his stuff. Also notable are Daoming Chen as the quietly spoken archaeologist with demons to conquer, and young Little Feather, who makes a memorable cameo.

The opening sequence is designed to send a message that we are in for some fancy fantasy effects within the martial arts environment as black robed fighters erupt from the desert sand, clash, and disappear back again in a flurry of sand and swordplay. Effects are sparingly used to great effect and the fight stunts are also thrilling.

Veteran director Yen-ping (Kevin) Chu has borrowed from old masters (including Sergio Leone) to fashion a film that manages to pay tribute to the classics while adding a fresh, youthful edge to the film's mood. There are lots of close ups of the key characters, and just as many 'epic' desert images - and The Treasure Hunter comes with BIG music. It's pure escapist fun.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

TREASURE HUNTER, THE (M)
(Taiwan, 2009)

Ci Ling

CAST: Jay Chou, Lin Chi-ling, Eric Tsang, Daoming Chen, Mao Pu, River Chen,

PRODUCER: Tun Wu

DIRECTOR: Yen-ping (Kevin) Chu

SCRIPT: Yen-ping (Kevin) Chu

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Xiao-Ding Zhao

EDITOR: Po-Wen Chen

MUSIC: Ricky Ho (song by Jay Chou, lyrics by Lin Chi-ling)

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Chung-Man Yee

OTHER: Tony Ching Siu-tung (action director)

RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Vendetta Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane: January 14, 2010







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