Site Features
- Asian Film Awards
- Site Recommendations

- Reader Poll Results

- The Sponsor Page
- The FAQ Page
support this site by shopping at
Click to visit
Asian Blu-ray discs at
The Treasure Hunter
Jay Chou, Lin Chiling in Treasure Hunter

Jay Chou and Lin Chi-Ling ride through the desert in The Treasure Hunter.
Chinese: 刺陵  
Year: 2009  
Director: Kevin Chu  
Writer: Ivy Ho, many other screenwriters  
Action: Ching Siu-Tung  
  Cast: Jay Chou, Lin Chi-Ling, Chen Dao-Ming, Eric Tsang Chi-Wai, Miao Pu, Baron Chen Chu-He, Wong Yat-Fei, Kenneth Tsang Kong, Liu Genghong, Teddy Lin Chun, Ian Powers
  The Skinny: Totally awesome if it's playing on a television in someone else's house, but only barely tolerable if it's right in front of you. Treasure Hunter is a generic action-adventure brought down by leaden direction and inconsistent acting. Chu Yen-Ping, Jay Chou and Eric Tsang are now 0-for-2 as a team.
by Kozo:

The last time Chu Yen-Ping, Jay Chou and Eric Tsang worked together they made the disappointing Kung Fu Dunk. Fast-forward nearly two years and the trio are back with The Treasure Hunter, an action-adventure that improves upon KFD - though that just means it doesn’t suck as hard. Treasure Hunter offers a generic adventure story, and the action from Ching Siu-Tung is decent fun. However, despite a script from the award-winning Ivy Ho (Comrades, Almost a Love Story), the film lacks character and story development, and ultimately packs the emotional punch of a dry paper towel. Even worse, the film eventually becomes boring, and struggles to maintain any interest in between nonsensical set pieces. Treasure Hunter has some value for an undemanding audience looking to kill time, but everyone else – and there’s a lot of you – had best be wary.

Jay Chou stars as Qiao Fei, a long-haired, whip-carrying adventurer who apparently makes it his duty to prevent grave robbers from removing ancient treasures from their resting place. Qiao Fei gets drawn into the search for the “Lost City”, a location-as-MacGuffin that houses a fortune in lost gold, plus a ballyhooed mystical pearl and an ancient curse/secret that wiped out a previous group of adventurers. Accompanying Qiao Fei is old flame Lan Ting (model Lin Chi-Ling of Red Cliff), a mystery writer whose father (Kenneth Tsang) was murdered by the largely faceless baddies. Also in search of the Lost City are rivals and possibly allies Pork Rib (Eric Tsang) and Hua (Chen Dao-Ming of Hero), who tag-team our heroes by overacting their characters’ personalities to the hilt. In Eric Tsang’s case, that means an overdrive of annoying scenery-chewing, while Chen Dao-Ming does the “haunted survivor” thing as an adventurer who escaped the previous ill-fated expedition to the Lost City.

Presumably, this motley group will crisscross on the way to the Lost City, where conflicts and secrets will be respectively resolved and revealed in entertaining, swashbuckling fashion. Sorry, but you need a better director to tell a story like that. Ivy Ho’s script is generic but workable - if only Chu Yen-Ping (a.k.a. Kevin Chu) had any idea how to mix his story and action beats into something resembling a competent commercial film. Chu sets up some ideas at the very opening – including the existence of some mysterious martial arts hero called the “Eagle of the Desert” – but most of the time, he resorts to conveniently-timed flashbacks to flesh out his details. His storytelling choices hurt the film; instead of mixing action and exposition smartly, we get cheaply-inserted explanation at the most inopportune times. Relationships aren’t built or revealed as much as they are stated or quickly tossed out, verbally or through spoken metaphor. The details are ultimately known, but unfortunately in the most boring, unaffecting manner possible.

Breaking things up is Ching Siu-Tung’s action, which has a diverting, cheap wire-enhanced flair not unlike his nineties work. Treasure Hunter somewhat resembles Ching’s 1996 Jet Li vehicle Dr. Wai in “The Scripture with No Words” in its mixture of Indiana Jones and over-the-top wire-fu, but it lacks that film’s silly, pulpy charm. Despite some small moments of humor, Treasure Hunter takes itself too seriously, ultimately revealing its plot details and story developments for what they are – manufactured, generic nonsense that fails at aping a fan-favorite genre. More is learned about the expedition to the Lost City, Qiao Fei and Lan Ting’s past, and the could-be-cool “Eagle of the Desert”, but the details fail to register as interesting or consistent. The film glosses over seemingly important details (like, uh, people dying) while zeroing in on supposed key moments. It does so with zero convince. When the final, crucial plot detail is revealed, characters gasp and someone drops all his gold in shock, but will the audience really care? Doubtful. A three paragraph synopsis of this plot may be more exciting.

The saving grace of the film: the fine bucket of KFC you’re probably eating while the DVD is playing on your television. Treasure Hunter works as OK background chatter, which allows one to tune out the boring filler and pay attention only to the routine action, desert location shots and popular stars – though the latter don’t help that much. Jay Chou and Lin Chi-Ling show little chemistry in their pairing, and neither performs notably. Chou oddly resembles a young David Chiang here, but shows none of the “aw-shucks” charm that has, to date, been his only real successful screen persona. Lin Chi-Ling looks great but does little else, while Eric Tsang and Chen Dao-Ming have obviously done better work. Chu Yen-Ping has long been an easy target for critical scorn and Treasure Hunter won't change that. Back in the nineties some of his films actually did entertain, e.g. Flying Dagger or Young Policemen in Love, two crass commercial films that had cheesy charm that occasionally outshone their lack of craft or intelligence. Maybe one day we’ll feel the same about Treasure Hunter, and feel that its silly action and uneven performances qualify as cheap, harmless fun. But I doubt it. (Kozo 2010)

  Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Joy Sales (HK)
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Original Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

image credit: EEG Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen