Poor raiding of old explorer films

Time Raiders' (from left) Zhang Boyu, Luhan and Ma Sichun.
Time Raiders' (from left) Zhang Boyu, Luhan and Ma Sichun.PHOTO: SHAW ORGANISATION

REVIEW / ADVENTURE FANTASY

TIME RAIDERS (PG13)

123 minutes/Opens tomorrow/1.5/5 stars

The story: Antique shop owner Wu Xie (Luhan) comes from a family of tomb raiders. When he stumbles on a mysterious tomb, he is determined to uncover its secrets, but he can do so only with the help of mysterious warrior Qiling (Jing Boran).

It would be giving Time Raiders too much credit to describe it as a poor man's Indiana Jones (1981) - it is more like a poor man's Scorpion King (2002).

Rehashing familiar images of flesh-eating bugs and elaborate booby traps with the aid of terrible CGI, it feels like a cheap imitation of older films. But it did not stop the film, which was released in China on Aug 5, from earning 861 million yuan (S$174.8 million) at the box office.

The one original concept in the new movie is how leading man Luhan handles obstacles in his path: by using music. He dodges sharp knives with a series of well- choreographed dance moves, while he steers scary creatures away by playing the flute, Pied Piper-style.

The silliness of such a "superpower" is unsurprising, given the star's musical background - he was a member of popular K-pop group Exo before he quit two years ago for a solo career in his native China.

Although the pretty boy is no longer working in Korean entertainment, that perfect K-pop idol image is still very much intact - which means he has flawless porcelain skin all the time, even when he is wiggling through muddy caves.

All the dirty work (literally) is shouldered by his much more macho co-star Jing Boran, who shows off plenty of fancy gongfu moves as a brooding warrior, but who is stuck with a single constipated expression throughout.

It is difficult to decide which is the more ridiculous - Jing's excessive grumpiness or Luhan's bizarrely giddy ways.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2016, with the headline 'Poor raiding of old explorer films'. Print Edition | Subscribe