Trailing a dismal reputation in its wake and escaping without fanfare to budget DVD, The Treasure Hunter may have been made solely to cash in on pop star Jay Chou's huge popularity in Asia but it's a perfectly serviceable Summer movie if you're not expecting Taiwan's answer to Raiders of the Lost Ark or The Mummy. Riffing on Romancing the Stone, Chiling Lin is the author of pulp adventure stories reunited with her Indiana Jones-like childhood sweetheart Chou who restores stolen antiques to the countries they've been looted from rather than raiding tombs himself when her estranged father's map to a lost city leads to her being kidnapped. From there on it follows most of the usual lost city clichés as the rivals race to get there first, just in time for it to fall to pieces and leave them to try to escape naturally empty-handed as lost cities are wont to do in these kind of movies
It's join the dots stuff as it moves from setpiece to setpiece, not helped by having its two best action scenes, a fight with a knight made of sand and a 'sandstorm legion' of desert riders, in the first half of the picture. Nor are the characters particularly interesting despite the attempts to pad them out with backstories that go nowhere, relying heavily on the charm of the cast to paper over the gaps. Chou and Lin are personable enough, Eric Tsang alternates between warm nostalgic sentimentality and Lou Costello shtick while Daoming Chen strikes the odd pose as he stares into the faraway distance as The One Who's Been There Before But Won't Explain How He Alone Survived (but he isn't happy to be around raw meat), but at times they're used almost as much as scenery as the desert locations. Still, it's a lavish production that has some decent special effects and is modestly entertaining if you're in an undemanding mood and just looking for some easygoing eye candy. However, some of the horse falls look rather worryingly like illegal tripwire stunts.
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