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Chinese language cinema

Film review: Legend of the Naga Pearls – Chinese fantasy adventure is generic yet enjoyable

Starring Wang Ta-lu and Zhang Tianai, this CGI spectacle largely transcends its genre clichés with a relentlessly earnest desire to please

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 August, 2017, 7:06pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 August, 2017, 7:02pm

3/5 stars

Few things signal a country’s rise as a filmmaking superpower quite as much as a fun blockbuster that slips from your mind the moment you leave the cinema. The Chinese film Legend of the Naga Pearls is just such a title, at once thoroughly diverting, perfectly generic and instantly forgettable. The fantasy adventure film, produced by Gordon Chan Ka-seung, tells a sprawling story that blends frenetic action, eye-popping visuals and often inappropriate humour with crowd-pleasing precision.

With an all-too-familiar setting, the movie features a mystical realm ruled by humans after their counterparts from the Winged Tribe were defeated in a previous battle. Following the discovery in the wild of the omnipotent device in the film’s title – one that is supposed to bring power to the winged creatures and help them take the world back – human pickpocket Ni Kongkong (Wang Ta-lu of Our Times ) and winged constable Raven (Zhang Tianai) are both swept along on the ride.

While it would take an essay to list every cinematic influence behind it – with Detective Dee , Monster Hunt and even Hollywood forebears such as Indiana Jones all coming to mind – this CGI spectacle largely transcends its genre clichés with its relentlessly earnest desire to please. Not even a gravely misused Simon Yam Tat-wah – in horrible make-up – as the villain could spoil the cheesy fun. The best thing to say about Legend of the Naga Pearls is perhaps that I did not feel my time was wasted.

Legend of the Naga Pearls opens on August 17

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