Mojin – The Lost Legend – (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
April 24, 2016 by Dennis Amith
“Mojin – The Lost Legend-” was a film that I was highly anticipating but felt a little let down due to poor character development and disjointed pacing, but as a popcorn action film, the film works best at that level and nothing more.
© 2015 All Rights Reserved by Wanda Media Co., Ltd. Huayi Brothers Media Corporation Enlight Media. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Mojin – The Lost Legend –
FILM RELEASE: 2015
DURATION: 125 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Cantonese, Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English subtitles
COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment
Release Date: May 3, 2016
Directed by Wuershan
Screenplay by Zhang Jialu
Produced by Kuo-fu Chen, Kun Tao, Xuejun Wu, Jerry Ye
Co-Producer: Jennifer Dong, Chang-tian Wang, Tongyuan Wang, Zhongjun Wang
Associate Producer: Xiaobei Cao, Helen Li, Felix Liu, Baozhou Ma, Huang Weihai, Kelly Wu, Bernard Yang
Cinematography by Jake Pollock
Music by Koji Endo
Casting by Wayne Chang, Yong Lu
Production Design by Yi Hao, Roxy Martinez
Art Direction by Lingtong Bai, Sonal Naroth
Set Decoration by Lauren Brown, Carlene Wang De Chen, Rocio Gimenez
Costume Design by Aminah Haddad, Kui Zhao
Shu Qi as Shirley Yang
Angelababy as Ding Sitian
Kun Chen as Hu Bayi
Bo Huang as Wang Kaixuan
Cherry Ngan as Yoko
Xia Yu as Da Jin Ya
Liu Xiaoqing as Ying Caihong
Some people have a special gift. They’re able to travel between the realms of the Living and the Dead…and Tomb Raiding can mean Big Business. Welcome to the world of the Mojin. Based on the #1 Bestselling series of novels and starring Shu Qi, Chen Kun, Angelababy, and Huang Bo, MOJIN: THE LOST LEGEND pits a trio of legendary grave robbers against scholars, rivals, and the law until an offer from a mysterious stranger tempts them into one last heist…an adventure that will test their skills, their friendship, and ultimately their mortal souls.
From Mongolian filmmaker Wuershan (“The Butcher, The Chef and the Swordsman” and “Painted Skin: The Resurrection”) comes his big budget film, “Mojin – The Lost Legend -“.
Starring Shu Qi (“The Transporter”, “Journey to the West”, “The Assassin”, “Three Times”), Kun Chen (“Flying Swords of Dragon Gate”, “Painted Skin”, “Painted Skin: The Resurrection”), Bo Huang (“Journey to the West”, “Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen”, “Dearest”) and Angelababy (“Hitman: Agent 47”, “Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon”, “Tai Chi Hero”, “Tai Chi Zero”).
The film, based on the popular adventure novel series “Ghost Blows Out the Light” by Zhang Muye about grave robbers.
The first film “Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe” was based on the series first four volumes but after Wanda Meda acquired the rights to the last four volumes, “Mojin – The Lost Legend” which is based on the series’ last four volumes features a different cast, as other production companies added to the financial product and thus a bigger production, filmed in different parts of the world.
The film was released in 2D, 3D, IMAX and IMAX 3D formats in China and was released in the US and Canada ala 2D.
The film was a success in the box office as “Mojin – The Lost Legend” was budgeted at $37 million, would go on to earn $278.3 million worldwide. And would become the highest-grossing IMAX film of all time in China.
And now the film will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Well Go USA.
The film is set in the 1990’s and begins with tomb explorers Hu Bayi (portrayed by Chen Kun), Wang Kaixuan (portrayed by Huang Bo) and Shu Qi (portrayed by Shirley Yang) on a tomb raiding expedition.
As Hu Bayi opens a tomb, he lifts the veil and sees a girl that is familiar to him. It happens to be his first love Ding Sitian (portrayed by Angelababy). A hole appears and she reaches out to him, he tries to reach out to Ding but is unable to grab her hand. Ding is sucked into the hole.
Fast forward as the group is now living in New York and Hu Bayi is supposed to marry Shirley, but before his wedding, he is unable to as his thoughts about Ding has haunted him.
Shirley is upset but Hu Bayi explains what happened in the past.
Long ago, Hu Bayi and Wang Kaixuan were part of a group that would raid tombs, along with Ding Sitian. But when they went to Mongolia, their group was wiped out by deadly insects that were kept underground by structures which the group had knocked down.
When many of them found a secret location, they come in contact with dead Japanese soldiers who look as if their life was sucked out of them. But when the group continues to touch things inside an ancient tomb, the Japanese soldiers awaken as zombies.
Many of the group were killed, but Hu, Wang and Ding, tried to escape. But for some reason, only Hu and Wang were able to escape. And it has haunted both men for the last 20-years.
But a mysterious businesswoman/cult leader named Ying Caihong (portrayed by Liu Xiaoqing) has hired the two men to find the ancient tomb of a Mongolian princess.
Hu Bayi is hesitant but Wang Kaixuan wants to return to complete his mission in memory of Ding Siian in finding a relic. Shirley who is upset that Hu Baiyi’s memories still are with Ding Sitian, can’t forgive him but joins the two on the adventure, whether they like it or not.
“Mojin – The Lost Legend -” is presented in 1080p High Definition. It’s important to note that the film was originally shown in theaters in 3D, so when watching the visual effects, you can literally tell that the way the effects were geared to have things breaking up in front of the screen, it was meant to be seen in 3D. Unfortunately, the film was not released in 3D on Blu-ray.
But during outdoor scenes, may it be in New York or in Asia, the film looks vibrant and full of detail. Closeups show great detail and visual effects look good as well. I did feel that the underground tombs looked a bit CG at times but for the most part, picture quality is very good.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Mojin – The Lost Legend -” is presented in Mandarin 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and features a lossless soundtrack that has crystal clear dialogue, music and offers a good amount of surround sound during moments of action or even hearing rocks crumbling, water building up or splashing.
Subtitles are in English and Chinese.
“Mojin – The Lost Legend -” comes with the following special features:
- Making Of – (4:00) Featuring a short making-of featurette for”Mojin – The Lost Legend -“.
- Behind-the-Scenes – (Around 3 minutes each) Short behind-the-scenes with Chen Kun and Huang Bo.
- Trailer – Theatrical trailer for”Mojin – The Lost Legend -“.
Prior to watching “Mojin – The Lost Legend”, I admit that I was excited to watching this film and seeing actress Shu Qui in another action film but also being paired by two very talented actors Chen Kun and Huang Bo. But also seeing newcomer Angelababy in another action film since the “Tai Chi Hero” and “Tai Chi Zero” films.
After watching the film, I felt that not only was this film more of a popcorn action film, it’s a film that tried to be too many things and overall film suffered because of it.
The storyline revolves around three tomb hunters or grave robbers looking for treasure and we get scenes of the group in the present (which Shu Qi is part of) and then the past (which Angelababy is part of).
Part of the problem is that the first film was created with a different cast and released in theaters in September 2015. The film (based on the first four novels) would establish all three characters effectively but instead, a new film with more financial backing and thus hiring better known talent to create “Mojin – The Lost Legend -” based on the last four novels.
The character development, especially with the relationship between Hu Bayi and Shirley Yang is not well-executed and Hu Bayi is stoic and distant, while Wang Kaixuan is more in the film for comedic effect. I felt the film doesn’t utilize the talents effectively, and while I found Shu Qi to be absolutely charming in the film, after her performance in “The Assassin”, it seemed that her appearance in the film was far too subdued.
Watching the film in 2D didn’t help matters as the film looked as if it was really geared for 3D and the effectiveness of feeling the danger of the tombs and things shattering, it doesn’t work all that well in 2D, so in some ways, I felt “Mojin – The Lost Legend-” would have been a great 3D/2D Blu-ray release.
What I did enjoy is the overall adventure and at some moments the costume design and visual effects were well-done. But in truth, the moments I did enjoy are the breathtaking outdoor scenes in New York or Mongolia, which were gorgeous to look at in HD.
As for the Blu-ray release, “Mojin – The Lost Legend-” looks great in HD. Great close-up details, vibrant outdoor scenes, picture quality is top notch. But as mentioned, many scenes that were meant for 3D, look a bit too CGI at times.
Lossless audio was effective during the more rockier and water-heavy scenes, especially action scenes. So, good to hear the surround channels being well-utilized.
Special features were short but won’t complain as a lot of Asian cinema on Blu-ray released in the US typically come without special features. Better getting a little something rather than nothing.
Overall, “Mojin – The Lost Legend-” was a film that I was highly anticipating but felt a little let down due to poor character development and disjointed pacing, but as a popcorn action film, the film works best at that level and nothing more.
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