Sunday, October 16, 2016

Mao or Tao?

Mojin: The Lost Legend (2015) is another time-waster - a Chinese martial arts fantasy with nothing in particular special about it, except that it is new.

The Mojin are tomb raiders, but for the people. In times of famine, they are authorized to go into the tombs of the ancients to get gold to buy food for the people. They have practiced this craft since ancient times, learning all the tricks to avoid the traps and possible spirits of the tombs.

Our group includes Kun Chen, the studious, serious guy with the long wispy hipster beard and Bo Huang (Journey to the West), the goofy braggart. The girl in the mix is Qi Shu. After a disastrous raid, they are sort of hiding out in New York, selling dubious antiquities on the street. Dandified Yu Xia, a sort of tomb raiding agent, pulls them back to Mongolia for another try at the treasure. And they will find out what happened to Angelababy, the Maoist cadre that they thought had died in the first raid.

The action and CGI is all fine, very good in fact, but not really special. Two special points are:
  • The Mongolian setting, with lots of throat-singing, yurts, etc. Exotic and colorful.
  • The Communist setting. We see our heroes setting out into Mongolia in a truck full of cadres in green, waving their little red books and arguing the dialectics of grave robbing. 
This is clearly a requirement of the government - to explain the fantastic in materialist terms, to exalt the revolution as opposed to the old imperial ways. It's kind of thrilling, to see this kind of Mao-chic, even remembering the disasters of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.

The politics don't really stand out much, just in one or two scenes. Adds a little spice to a fun but ordinary movie.

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