East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

The Treasure Hunter (2009)


Set in “the great desert northwest of China”, The Treasure Hunter, a Taiwanese fantasy adventure feature from 2009, is a fun movie with some minor drawbacks.

The story steals happily from a number of classics – from Indiana Jones movies and the Mummy franchise (unscrupulous archeologists, lost cities), with major nods towards Romancing the Stone (the shy woman involved in an outrageous plot), Highlander (some pretty Kurgan-ish warriors), the old Army of Darkness (a certain Raimi-esque use of camerawork), to old Spaghetti-western (costumes, sets).

That such a Frankenstein-monster of plots, ideas and elements still works fine, is a result of the solid pulp backbone of the film.

There’s a lost city in the desert.
There’s a band of treasure-hunters looking for it.
The supernatural is at work.
A leather-jacketed, motorbike riding hero.
A woman looking for adventure.


The plot is linear – despite the many flashbacks – and it’s a clear example of geography as story.
The heroes have to go from A to B, the bad guys are on the same track, there’s obstacles along the way.
Cars, motorbikes and horses are instrumental.
It works.
It twists enough to keep attention up, is predictable enough to buzz certain old feelings.

Visually beautyful in its set-pieces, sometimes rough when CGI post-production comes into play, the movie is good entertainment for its 100+ minutes.
The main problem is, possibly, its lack of humor, or the somewhat stiff approach to the subject matter.
The early lighthearted tone is soon replaced by an overly serious attitude.
A lighter hand in the handling of the characters would have been welcome*.

But all in all, nice movie, good entertainment, and the leading lady is stunning.
Oh, and the bad guys are great.

Could be worse, right?


* But then, I watched it in French, so maybe part of the perceived stiffnes comes from my concentration not to miss any bit of the dialog.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

4 thoughts on “The Treasure Hunter (2009)

  1. A lost city, a woman looking for adventure, great bad guys…
    You catch me!It is what I need in this rainy and boring season.
    I’m gonna see it very soon! 😀


  2. I hope you like it, and I think you will.
    It is an old-fashioned adventure, and rather good overall.


  3. I saw it the last summer thanks to your suggestion 🙂 … and I agree with you: maybe today nobody makes movies like this anymore, but in the far away east it seems there is still someone who can do it 😉

    writing this comment in (maybe a very horrible) english has been more difficoult than writing my degree thesis O_o


  4. Thanks!
    I appreciate your effort! 😀


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