ContactSales: Distribution Workshop, Hong Kong (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Premiere: ScreenSingapore, 7 Jun 2011. Theatrical release: Hong Kong, 23 Jun 2011; China, 28 Jun 2011.
Presented by Bona Entertainment (CN), Beijing Bona Film & TV Cultural Communication (CN). Produced by: Mega-Vision Pictures (HK). Executive producers: Yu Dong, Jeffrey Chan. Producer: Joe Wong.
Script: Wong Jing. Photography: Venus Keung. Editing: Lee Kar-wing. Music: Raymond Wong Ying-wah. Art direction: Frederick Chan. Costume design: Bobo Ng. Costumes: Mabel Kwan. Action: Corey Yuen. Visual effects: Kinomotive.
Cast: Nick Cheung (Lao Ba/Brad), Nicholas Tse (Young Master Gong), Tong Dawei (Wen Wenqie), Charlene Choi (Water Dragon Lady), Crystal Huang (Fire Dragon Lady), Liu Yang (Yu Linglong, inn manageress), Kenny Ho (Tie Wuqing, chief Gold Constable), Philip Ng (Yu Feng, killer), Mavis Pan (Nine-Tailed Fox, killer), Yumiko Cheng (Tiger Baby, inn waitress), Zheng Xiaodong (Zhu San, Tie's associate), Wilson Tong (Tang Ao, killer), Yuen Tak (Jin Bu Er), Mo Meilin (Zhan Feilong), Huang Yonggang (General Red Dragon), Na Wei (county official), Zheng Yitong (his wife), Sun Xiaofei (Lanlan, inn waitress), Sun Changjiang (Tong Tianpeng, buyer at inn), Huang Xiaolan (Hibiscus).
Treasure Inn 財神客棧
Costume martial arts comedy
2011, colour, 2.35:1, 93 mins
Directed by Wong Jing (王晶)
By Derek Elley
Tue, 29 November 2011, 11:50 AM (HKT)
Above-average Wong Jing production with a varied cast and some good action. Asian and genre events.
White Horse Town, ancient China, central region. Lao Ba (Nick Cheung) and skilled martial artist Young Master Gong (Nicholas Tse) are two lowly policeman working as cooks and laundrymen in the local goverment residence. They both dream of becoming top-ranking Gold Constables of the Imperial Justice Ministry. Following a mass murder at the Zhang family mansion, and the theft of a large White Jade Goddess of Mercy statue hidden there, Gong works out there were five killers. But after presenting his findings to Gold Constable Tie Wuqing (Kenny Ho) and his associate Zhu San (Zheng Xiaodong), he's not allowed to join the investigation. Instead, Gong and Lao Ba are thrown in prison, and only escape execution thanks to two con artists, Fire Dragon Lady (Crystal Huang) and Water Dragon Lady (Charlene Choi), who run a scam claiming fake rewards. Water Dragon falls for Gong, and Fire Dragon tells them there's only one place where the statue can be - the desert-bound Treasure Inn, run by famed dancer Yu Linglong (Liu Yang), who organises a gathering of buyers of rare artifacts every mid-autumn. En route, the four meet up with young medical student-cum-martial artist Wen Wenqie (Tong Dawei), who's also going to Treasure Inn to see his beloved Linglong, and helps stave off an attack by two of the killers, Nine-Tailed Fox (Mavis Pan) and Tang Ao (Wilson Tong). They also bump into Tie and Zhu, who have worked out that the killers were led by the notorious Jin Bu Er (Yuen Tak). Everyone arrives at Treasure Inn as the buyers assemble. But then a violent sandstorm seals off the place, and on his way to claim the statue is General Red Dragon (Huang Yonggang), who originally hired Jin Bu Er to get the statue, stolen from his family.
The more ambitious of two escapist movies shot by prolific Hong Kong producer-director WONG Jing 王晶 in China last year, Treasure Inn 財神客棧 (2011), released before Treasure Hunt 無價之寶 (2011) this summer, is a well-shot costume martial arts comedy that's way above Wong's usual quickie standards. Starting out like a typical silly-arse jape, with stars Nicholas TSE 謝霆鋒 and an almost unrecognisable Nick CHEUNG 張家輝 (with top-knot and rabbit teeth) larking around as two lowly imperial cops on kitchen duty, it finally morphs into a surprisingly enjoyable action romp set in that old staple of a remote inn full of heroes and villains.
Since his last Mainland excursion, Future X-Cops 未來警察 (2010), Wong has considerably raised his production stakes. Special effects by Kinomotive 키노모티브 are much improved this time round; Bobo NG 吳寶玲's costume designs and Frederick CHAN 陳子仲's inn set are both characterful; Raymond WONG Ying-wah 黃英華's symphonic score is again attentive; and the photography by 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)) makes good use of shadowy interiors.
The main weakness, apart from a bored-looking performance by Tse that stands out a mile, is Wong's script, which is heavy on exposition during the 40-minute pre-inn section and is playful but not often very funny, lacking in comic rhythm. The film's main strength is the frequent and inventively staged action by veteran Corey YUEN 元奎 that makes good use of a cast that's light on actual martial artists (apart from YUEN Tak 元德 and Philip NG 伍允龍 in supporting roles).
Aside from Tse, the varied Hong Kong/China cast is strong. On the Mainland side, actress Crystal HUANG 黃奕, who's since stepped up impressively into a lead role in action-drama The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake 競雄女俠秋瑾 (2011), manages to throw a rather subdued Charlene CHOI 蔡卓妍 into the shade most of the time; "football model" Mavis PAN 潘霜霜 has some sexy fun with a power-wave pipa; and even TONG Dawei 佟大為 is bearable as a lovelorn sap in his scenes with LIU Yang 劉洋's feisty inn manageress. Of the other Hong Kongers, Kenny HO 何家勁, from TV drama, shows impressive screen presence as a Gold Constable with a mission. Treasure Inn doesn't pretend to be a super-blockbuster, but it's better than okay most of the time.