Film Review: Mojin: The Lost Legend

Grab a big bag of popcorn and a soda and sink yourself into this rambling but skillfully done and surprisingly deep Chinese action romp.
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This second film version of Tianxia Bachang’s best-selling series of novels follows the adventures of three tomb raiders, Shirley Yang (Shu Qui), Hu Bayi (Chen Kun) and Wang Kaixuan (Huang Bo), now retired and living in New York. They go back into action, however, when a mysterious, cult-leading millionairess (Liu Xiaoquing) hires them to discover the last resting place of an ancient Khitan princess in Inner Mongolia. Their specific mission is to find the Equinox Flower, an eons-old treasure which can resurrect the dead.

If you just relax and go with Mojin: The Lost Legend, you may find yourself enjoying it as much as a kid at a Saturday matinee of anything spanning movie history, from the perils of Pearl White to the exploits of Indiana Jones. Mongolian director Wuershan skillfully juggles a multitude of genres here—adventure, romance, horror, comedy, fantasy and, of course, martial arts to bracingly kaleidoscopic effect and the action is nonstop, yet happily tinged with a resonant sense of history and social comment. The characters have a background that was deeply affected by their involvement in the Communist Youth League and this, plus a love for the same woman once shared by Hu and Wang, gives the film some surprising romantic depth amid all the gruntingly effortful acrobatics and near-escapes from death.

The guys are highly likeable and funny in that time-honored buffa-stretched-to-the-limit comic way favored by Asian commercial cinema. The strong, beautiful women are the standouts here, with the achingly pretty Shu proving herself a delightful and very tough comedienne, while a Cruella de Vil-streaked Liu shows that you indeed have to be Asian to play a definitive Dragon Lady (with apologies to Gale Sondergaard). Also strikingly along for the ride are Cherry Ngan as Liu’s punk-ish henchwoman and Angelababy as the guys’ haunting lost love.

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