Legend of the Naga Pearls – Chinese fantasy adventure is generic yet enjoyable
Few things signal a country’s rise as a filmmaking superpower quite as much as a fun blockbuster that slips from your mind the moment you leave the cinema. The Chinese film Legend of the Naga Pearls (Other name: Truyen Thuyet Rong Thieng)is just such a title, at once thoroughly diverting, perfectly generic and instantly forgettable.
The fantasy adventure film, produced by Gordon Chan Ka-seung, tells a sprawling story that blends frenetic action, eye-popping visuals and often inappropriate humour with crowd-pleasing precision.
With an all-too-familiar setting, the movie features a mystical realm rule by humans after their counterparts. That from the Winged Tribe were defeat in a previous battle. Following the discovery in the wild of the omnipotent device in the film’s title – one that is suppose to bring power to the wing creatures and help them take the world back – human pickpocket Ni Kongkong (Wang Ta-lu of Our Times ) and wing constable Raven (Zhang Tianai) are both swept along on the ride.
While it would take an essay to list every cinematic influence behind it – with Detective Dee
Monster Hunt and even Hollywood forebears such as Indiana Jones all coming to mind. This CGI spectacle largely transcends its genre clichés with its relentlessly earnest desire to please. Not even a gravely misuse Simon Yam Tat-wah – in horrible make-up – as the villain could spoil the cheesy fun. The best thing to say about Legend of the Naga Pearls is perhaps that I did not feel my time was wast.
Legend Of The Naga Pearls is a typical children’s tale of friendship, threat and adventure and is perfect for even adults. That as it provides an almost Star Wars-style friendship and quest style. Whilst the film is quite charming and amusing at times, it lacks in originality and its storyline lets it down at times. That with some slow-moving scenes, with some cheesy and cliche attempts at jokes. Even the most unsubtle of toilet humour is use several times throughout the film. That with several incidences of Xuelie farting, much to the dismay of those surrounding him.
Scenes like these are those that you shouldn’t laugh at but just can’t help giggling along to.
That being said, especially towards the final 25 minutes of the film. The plot does pick up and director Yang Lei utilises the acting talent that he has working for him quite well. Along with the exceptional production design and superb CGI effects. Legend Of The Naga Pearls doesn’t fail to be visually stunning. That with effects that trump many seen in even the most prevalent Hollywood blockbusters.
Ni Kongkong (Darren Wang, Railroad Tigers) and Hei Yu (Tian’Ai Zhang, Father And Son). That are your typical leading characters in a children’s action/adventure film. Ni Kongkong is the likeable idiot and Hei Yu is the feisty force to be reckon with. With an early fight sequence, the choreography is laughable and has the “so bad it’s good” factor to it. Have you ever seen a man jump 7 feet into the air only to be ensnare by a rope dutifully thrown by an enemy? You will if you can make it through this ridiculous fight sequence. That without laughing to the point of distraction from what’s going on.
Heiyu is your ideal adventure film villain; winge, fearsome, psychotic and possibly terrifying for children. Paire up with a legion of baddies, Heiyu is not a force to be reckon with a provides a suitable challenge. That for Ni Kongkong and Hei Yu as they aid Xuelie in his journey to retrieve the precious pearls. What could be better than kung-fu sequences mix in with over-the-top scenery destruction? Whether you enjoy Legend Of The Naga Pearls or not. You have to admit that you laugh a little at watching Ni Kongkong plummeting down a hole after being knock into a wooden structure. If only he learnt how to fight from Bruce Lee…