Treasure Hunt 無價之寶
Contemporary adventure comedy
2011, colour, 2.35:1, 98 mins
Directed by Venus Keung (姜國民)
By Derek Elley
Thu, 01 December 2011, 12:35 PM (HKT)
An okay kid's adventure comedy, shot in China, from the Wong Jing factory. Asian and children's events.
Beijing, the present day. Top commercials director Jiang Huini (Cecilia Cheung) is asked by company head Zhu (Li Guohua) to direct a commercial with veteran action star Gao Dalong (Ronald Cheng), a womanising alcoholic, on the tiny deserted island of Xieyang, near Weizhou Island, off the coast of Beihai, Guangxi province. She only agrees to the week's work when Zhi promises to fund her dream project, the children's feature film Priceless Treasure (無價之寶). Her husband Lu Zhiming (Ekin Cheng) is unhappy about her decision, and leaves home with their four-year-old son Xiaojia (Lucas Tse). On the trip, Dalong brings along his young daughter Sisi (Liu Miaoke), plus his manager He Nengwei (Wong Jing) and his young son Ji'an (Zhang Keyuan). Also among the crew is actress Niu Jingjing (Jacquelin Ch'ng). On the docks in Weizhou they bump into Snake (Liu Hua) and his gang who, unknown to Huini and her crew, are also going to Xieyang to hunt for the Seven Stars Treasure, a gift by a Javan lord to a Ming dynasty emperor that was stolen by General Du Wei. Snake forced the map out of Ming dynasty scholar Professor Liu (Wang Hucheng) but still cannot decipher some of its riddles. As they set out for Xieyang, Huini takes on as a replacement for her sick assistant director a young woman called Beibei (Zhou Qiqi), whom Dalong met in a bar. Arriving on Xieyang, the film crew doesn't realise that Cobra & Co. are already encamped on the other side. And when Dalong, who can't actually do any martial arts, is injured, they also discover the island is not uninhabited.
With his two summer Treasure movies — shot in China with identical key technical crews — even the harshest critics of prolific Hong Kong producer-director WONG Jing 王晶 had to admit he'd upped his game. Treasure Hunt 無價之寶 (2011), released two months after Treasure Inn 財神客棧 (2011), and credited on the directing side to versatile d.p. Venus KEUNG 姜國民 (So Close 夕陽天使 (2002), Seven Swords 七劍 (2005), The Sorcerer and the White Snake 白蛇傳說 (2011)), pretends to be no more than an escapist family movie aimed at the kid market and on those terms it pretty much ticks all the boxes, while always remaining typical of Wong in its populist appeal and gut humour.
There's Ronald CHENG 鄭中基 doing his usual idiot act; Cecilia CHEUNG 張柏芝 in her second film after a five-year break, and with her own son Lucas TSE 谢振轩 (by ex-husband Nicholas TSE 謝霆鋒) making his screen debut; Ekin CHENG 鄭伊健 popping up as her screen husband; Wong himself as a cowardly manager; a host of children, including Mainland kid star LIN Miaoke 林妙可 (from the Beijing Olympics opening); Hong Kong-born martial artist Philip NG 伍允龍 in an Indiana Jones-like cameo; Mainlanders like SHAO Bing 邵兵 and LIU Hua 劉樺 scattered throughout the cast; plus action and comedy, capped by a fantasy ending with caves, treasure and man-eating plants. It's not a classic, but it wears its heart on its sleeve and does its job just fine.
In the unlikely role of a top, Beijing-based commercials director, Cecilia Cheung looks less relaxed than in All's Well End's Well 2011 最強囍事 (2011) but throws herself into the action stuff (especially an early sequence on roller skates) and thankfully manages to puncture a lot of Cheng's silly-arse cavorting. The most enjoyable performance comes from Mainland character actor Liu, as the smiling, laid-back villain; the most uncomfortable one from Shao, who's simply not at home in comedy, especially of this kind. Production values, with another good score by Raymond WONG Ying-wah 黃英華 and acceptable visual effects by Kinomotive Studio Korea 키노모티브스튜디오코리아, are fine, making the whole package a significant improvement on Wong's last Mainland excursion, Future X-Cops 未來警察 (2010).
Director-d.p. Keung appears briefly as a police captain at the end. The film's original title means Priceless Treasure.
ContactSales: Wonderland Entertainment, Hong Kong (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Theatrical release: China, 19 Aug 2011; Hong Kong, 8 Sep 2011.
Presented by Joy Pictures (Shanghai) (CN), China Film (CN), Emei Film Group (CN), Beijing Lu Zhen Brothers Film & TV Communications (CN), Jing's Production (HK). Produced by Jing's Production (HK), in association with China Film, Huanle Dianying (Shanghai). Executive producers: Han Sanping, He Shiping, Jacky Tung, Yu Huabin, Wong Jing. Producer: Tung Hoi-wang.
Script: Wong Jing. Photography: Venus Keung. Editing: Lee Kar-wing. Music: Raymond Wong Ying-wah. End titles song: Peter Kam, Albert Leung. Art direction: Frederick Chan. Costumes: Cindy Cheung. Sound: Wu Zong. Action: Huang Mingjian, Joe Ma Yuk-shing. Technical effects: Chen Fei. Visual effects: Park Hyeon-shin (Kinomotive Studio).
Cast: Cecilia Cheung (Jiang Huini/Peggy), Ronald Cheng (Gao Dalong/Mr. Big), Shao Bing (Xing/Star), Liu Hua (Snake/Cobra), Ekin Cheng (Lu Zhiming/Andy, Huini's husband), Lucas Tse (Lu Xiaojia/Lucas, Huini's son), Philip Ng (Eastern Dragon, hero in commercial), Wang Hucheng (Professor Liu), Wong Jing (He Nengwei/Wayne, Dalong's manager), Lin Miaoke (Gao Sisi/Cissy, Dalong's daughter), Zhou Qiqi (Beibei), Li Danni (Qiu Zhu, Snake's female sidekick), Xing Ning (Pao, Snake's younger brother), Jacquelin Ch'ng (Niu Jingjing, actress), Joe Cheng (Stupid Hui, Snake's heavy), Peng Gen (Xiaoxiao Xing/Starlet, Xing's son), Zhang Keyuan (He Ji'an, Nengwei's son), Fu Tianjiao (Fei, Snake's heavy), Li Guohua (Zhu), Chen Jinna (Ying, Huini's assistant director), Virgo Wong (Da Kuai), Venus Keung (Captain Li), Li Ling (kebab seller), Chen Duan (customer), Wang Yanling (old lady in street).