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The Treasure Hunter (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 29, 2011 by  



If you watched filmmaker Yen-ping Chu and Jay Chou’s first collaboration in the 2008 film “Kung-Fu Dunk”, it doesn’t get any better with “The Treasure Hunter”.  Visually, it’s a pleasing popcorn action film but as far as its story goes, unfortunately it’s confusing and not that good. 

Images courtesy of © 2011 FUNimation Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Treasure Hunter (Ci Ling)

FILM RELEASE: 2009

DURATION: 105 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Dolby True HD Mandarin and English 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Eleven Arts/FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: November 15, 2011

Directed by Yen-ping Chu

Produced by Yang Du

Music by Ricky Ho

Starring:

Jay Chou as Qiao Fei

Chilling Lin as Lan Ting

Eric Tsang as Pork Chop

Daoming Chen as Master Hua

Chu-he Chen as Desert Eagle

Will Liu as Friday

Pu Miao as Swords Thirteen

Ian Powers as Russian Smuler

Kenneth Tsang as Tu Lao-dai

Qiaofei (Jay Chou) is a relic expert with a gritty past. When his mentor’s daughter is held hostage over a map with a deadly history, the rugged warrior whips into action! Chaos erupts as he swoops in to the rescue and scours the sands for legendary riches buried deep in China’s northwest desert. Chased down by the shadowy Sandstorm Legion and challenged by countless greedy, bloodthirsty foes, Qiaofei faces danger at every turn to find the tomb – but some treasures aren’t meant to be found.

Jay Chou is a talented, chart-topping singer/musician from Taiwan.

Known in America for his role as Kato in the 2011 film “The Green Hornet”, most of Jay Chou’s previous films were films that I guess many people can call them “growth” films.  A musician turned actor who grows with each film.  Beginning with his starring role in “Initial D”, starring with two powerhouse talent in “Curse of the Golden Flower” with Chow Yun Fat and Gong Li but to create more “growth” films with “Kung Fu Dunk” (2008), followed by “The Treasure Hunter” (2009).

And now, “The Treasure Hunter” receives its Blu-ray and DVD release in America courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment.

The film begins with a tale of two men who fight on the dunes.  While one will win the title of “Desert Eagle”, the other would lose and never come back.

We then learn about how many have searched for hidden treasure in the dunes but many have literally been unsuccessful.

For Lan Ting (played by actress Lin Chi-ling), her father is a well known archaeologist/treasure hunter searching for the treasure.   But not more to steal it, but to make sure no one takes it.  As Qiao Fei (played by Jay Chou) works for Lan Ting’s father, his goal is to find treasure and return it back to their respective owners.

Qiao Fei is a man who has excellent martial arts fighting skills but he is also a man of mystery.

During one inspection of stolen treasure, Qiao Fei takes on a supernatural knight who rematerialized after he rings a bell (which he was told not to do).  But during the inspection, he discovers a map, the map that would lead people to the lost treasure in the dunes.  A map that must be protected at all cost.

But for Lan Ting, she has nothing but ill feelings towards her father because he has chosen his career and dedicated his life to finding the treasure in the dunes than being there for his family.

One day, Lan Ting’s father asks Qiao Fei to talk to his daughter about coming to visit him for dinner and we quickly learn that both Lan Ting and Qiao Fei have this not-so-kind relationship but he is the middleman to both as he tells them what both are up to.

Meanwhile, as Lan Ting decides whether or not to visit her father, he is visited by the notorious crime group known as “The Company” who are looking for the map.  Meanwhile, another group led by Pork Chop (played by Eric Tsang) kidnaps Lan Ting in order to blackmail her father in giving the map to them.  And to assist them in finding the treasure area, a man named Master Hua Ding Bang (played by Chen Daoming), who was the sole surviving member of an expedition crew that last searched for the treasure will be joining them.

Because Lan Ting was kidnapped, Qiao Fei is forced to give the map to Pork Chop’s crew but to give her the bad news that her father has been killed.  Pork Chop is shocked and tells them that they have nothing to do with it as they just kidnapped the daughter.

But immediately, a man from nowhere comes and steals the map which leads to a battle between Qiao Fei and the assailant.  Meanwhile, out of nowhere, a child steals the map and brings it to his mysterious boss in the desert.

Having to face all sorts of dangers in the dunes, now the treasure hunter Qiao Fei, along with Lan Ting (with Pork Chop crew not far behind) must find the map before anyone steals the treasure.

VIDEO:

“The Treasure Hunter” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1).  The picture quality is quite warm and sports plenty of detail during the daytime, cooler colors during the night time.  Detail is very well-done as we can see the detail around the treasure relics, to the detail of the cool special effects featured in the film.  Black levels are deep and overall, picture quality for the film is very good.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Treasure Hunter” is presented in Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Mandarin and English.  I was surprised that this film was only a 2.0 mix but for the most part, the front channels definitely get a lot of work in showcasing the many sound effects during the intense action sequences of the film.  From windstorms, to shrieks by possessed characters and more!

It’s important to note that I did not listen to the English dub track as I prefer to watch Asian films in their original language.  With that being said, despite not liking English dialogue for Asian cinema, FUNimation Entertainment is well-known for their English dubs and doing a great work with them, so if you prefer English dubs instead of reading English subtitles, you do have that option.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“The Treasure Hunter” comes with the following special feature:

  • Original Trailer – (2:08) Original theatrical trailer for “The Treasure Hunter”.

EXTRAS:

“The Treasure Hunter” comes with a slipcover case.

Another collaboration between Taiwan filmmaker Chu Yen-ping (“The King of Comics”, “Kung Fu Dunk”) and music artist/actor Jay Chou plus popular Hong Kong action choreographer Ching Siu-tung (“A Chinese Ghost Story” and “Swordsman” films), “The Treasure Hunter” was an interesting action film that tried to incorporate too much.

First, as mentioned earlier, this is a “growth” film for Jay Chou.  As a singer, he wanted to improve his acting, so he did a few popcorn action films, one was “Kung Fu Dunk” and the other was this film “The Treasure Hunter”.  Needless to say, these two films are not the best, and while they are both flashy in different ways, they are primarily popcorn action films with a popular singer as the main star.

And while these two Chu Yen-ping films are good starting blocks for Jay Chou’s acting and are literally stylish action films, while “Kung Fu Dunk” tried to capture the feel of “Shaolin Soccer” (which it failed to accomplish), “The Treasure Hunter” tries to be a martial arts Indiana Jones-style film with more plot holes than holes in Swiss cheese.

One thing that we know of the film is that Jay Chou plays a treasure hunter that returns the treasure back to their owners.  We know there is sexual attraction between treasure hunter Qiao Fei and his mentor’s daughter Lan Ting.

The problem of the film is that it introduces a lot of things to the film that make no sense.  From the hoard of attacking warriors on the dune and they happen to be stuck inside a diner, its reminiscent of the American film “Legion” but what is their purpose, we don’t know.  It seems that the film tried to incorporate one large action chase scene for action-sake, with nothing impacting the storyline.

Before the attack by the dune warriors, we see a soldier attacking Qiao Fei, but what is his purpose in the film?  Why even give this non-essential character a closeup.

And then all of a sudden, the film tries to become a zombie/vampire like film when Pork Chop’s employees start eating flowers that have grown from a dead corpse, thus making him to a zombie with super abilities.

And while it was one thing to introduce these supernatural beasts or whatever they are, we are introduced to a storyline that revolves around a woman named Dao-Dao and the Desert Eagle, which plays an impact to the story in the beginning and about Qiao Fei’s past.  But the brief interaction with Desert Eagle is so short that you wonder why the writer chose to introduce it to the storyline.

Unfortunately, as much as the film does look cool in terms of its warm colorized look and the visual effects, especially the fight choreography, the film was disappointing.

And what makes it even worse is that the film that Yen-ping Chu and Jay Chou did before this, was also the same.  Full of style, cool fight choreography but a storyline that tried to add to much but got nowhere.

The Blu-ray release is also “OK”.  While the picture quality is very good, we are only given a Dolby TrueHD 2.0 soundtrack (Mandarin and in English) and for special features, just a single trailer.

Needless to say, Jay Chou fans are going to watch this film because it features Jay Chou.  But the film didn’t do well in Taiwan and was a box office failure.  But since Jay Chou has become internationally well-known because of his work on “The Green Hornet”, the collaboration between him and Yen-ping Chu for their second film together is another mess.

It’s unfortunate because I respect Jay Chou as a fan of his music and I have been supportive of his growth as an actor, even when he first starred in “Initial D”, but his two films with Yen-ping Chu may give him that acting experience but unfortunately they are bad films.  Again, these films were made before “The Green Hornet”, so hopefully, he gets better film roles to star in.

“The Treasure Hunter” is more eye-candy and a popcorn action-film with an anemic, kitschy storyline that is too confusing to be any good.

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