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In 1988, the three Mojin(tomb raider), Hu Bayi, Wang Kaixuan, and Shirley Yang, retires and relocates to New York. While Bayi and Shirley have become romantically involved and Kaixuan feels that the great Mojin deserve more than the financial despair they've faced in the States, the trio are pulled back into a grave-robbing game in Inner Mongolia, China, to explore the reason behind the death of Ding Sitian, who was Bayi and Kaixuan's first love died back in 1969.Written by
The sight of undead and forbidden tomb, the quintessential Chinese action adventure.
Fighting a hopping ghostly entity in action comedy flair is an old trend in Chinese cinema, mostly dealing with silly version of vampire. As the visual technology advances this kind of premise resurfaces recently, the closest comparison would be The Mummy with oriental atmosphere. Mojin might seem too flamboyant or slow at first, rightfully so since the blend of horror and action only shows its effectiveness later on.
Story follows a reluctant adventurer Hu Bayi (Chen Kun) as he is drawn to a mystery from 20 years ago. The pacing is unfortunately sluggish at first act, relying heavily on slapstick comedy for a bit too long. This kind of loud banter is used frequently in Chinese comedy, or even in Korean or Japanese flicks, but the outlandish approach may not resonate too well for audience from the west. It's admittedly a niche flavor and culture-oriented taste. Furthermore, the drama factor simply shines towards the end.
After it sets the tone, it gets increasingly better. By incorporating few mythological embellishments and creepy characters, it even manages to be unexpectedly eerie beyond the original cheesy nature. Action and effect fare much better. There is a polished visual here, though it's not the level of high tier animation and it needs the help of artistic design to create appealing set pieces, especially since it dabbles mostly on barren terrains.
Credit must go to Shu Qi as the love interest Shirley. She looks very gorgeous, donning the popular Lara Croft visage and it's nice to have such character when raiding long lost tomb. The action also comes to fruition on second half as story shifts from silliness to tight narrative and eye-catching sequences. Humor works better as well, breaking away from the stand-up comedy and presenting a couple of nice gags even when the pace becomes faster.
The movie's later parts are better than the rest, more so considering it's a fairly long movie with considerable build-up. However, when all the pieces fit together Mojin - The Lost Legend is an adequately fascinating adventure.
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