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Chinese language cinema

Film review: Mojin - The Lost Legend a jumbled tomb-raiding zombie adventure

Film’s Mongolia-born director, Wuershan, sticks to the formula that made his career, but this rehash of Indiana Jones and Mummy series has weak plot and character development for all the action

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 January, 2016, 5:56pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 January, 2016, 5:58pm

After blending his consummate visual style with eccentric humour and brassy narrative flair for his feature debut, the modestly budgeted action comedy T he Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman (2010), the Mongolia-born director Wuershan went on to make the ponderous, effects-driven fantasy Painted Skin: The Resurrection (2012), which inexplicably became one of China’s highest grossing films ever.

Thus, nobody should fault him for pulling the same tricks with his third feature Mojin: The Lost Legend, a tomb-raiding adventure film that entertains sporadically with supernatural elements, but bores you to sleep whenever anyone starts talking. Although it’s an adaptation of the second half of an eight-volume internet fiction series, Ghost Blows Out the Light, the film and its mostly rambling narrative doesn’t bother to fill viewers in on character back stories.

The plot circles around Hu Bayi (Chen Kun), Wang Kaixuan (Huang Bo) and Shirley Yang (Shu Qi), once proud descendants of a mythical band of grave robbers (or mojin), who have retired to become lowly immigrants in 1980s New York. When an offer by a shadowy cult leader (Liu Xiaoqing) arrives for them to retrieve a life-resurrecting artefact from an ancient Khitan tomb, the trio are swiftly back in business.

What Wuershan ends up making – apart from a large pile of cash – is an elementary adventure that freely rehashes the Indiana Jones and Mummy films. There are enough zombies – both ordinary and Japanese – to keep the characters busy, though the film’s best twist is a political one: Bayi and Kaixuan shared traumatic memories in that tomb back in the 1960s, when their fellow youth guards unwittingly unleashed the dead. Awkward.

Mojin: The Lost Legend opens on January 14