The battle for Earth comes ahead again against a deadly alien threat in this adaptation of the Tian Xia Ba Chang novel series.
In 1979, a young man named Hu Bayi has joined an expedition team at the Kunlun Mountains on the China-Mongolia border. When an explosion occurred after the discovery of some fossils. A team including Hu, nurse Shirley Yang, her archaeologist father. And Captain Sun, is formed to investigate the explosion. Professor Yang finds the path to the tomb of the Ghostly Tribe, an entity like no other. Along the way towards the path, manchy of the team members are killed by fire bats or an avalanche. The Yangs, Hu Bayi, and Sun are left as they find the tomb. There, Hu and Shirley find themselves opening a pagoda which unleashes a deadly threat.
As time has passed, Shirley is missing and Hu Bayi relentlessly searches for her while researching the Ghostly Tribe with the help of his new friend Fatty. When Professor Yang has learned of a series of recent attacks, he is convinced that the Ghostly Tribe are responsible. Yang heads back to the tomb to find out its secret once and for all. However, Hu Bayi soon learns the fateful truth about the Ghostly Tomb. And is summoned by Bureau 749 to find Professor Yang at the request of a supposedly found Shirley. A new team joins Shirley and Hu in the hunt for Professor Yang. But they soon learn the evil forces responsible are in the area and war is soon to break out. Who will survive and what is the dark secret of the Ghostly Tribe?
Back in April, World Film Geek reviewed a film entitled Mojin: The Lost Legend, starring Shu Qi and Chen Kun. The film was based on a popular online (and later print) novel series entitled Ghost Blows Out the Light from Tian Xia Ba Chang (aka Zhang Muye). This film is based on another part of the series and is not a sequel, not a reboot. But can serve as a companion piece of Mojin due to the fact that it is based on the same material but looked at from a different area.
This time, the heroic Hu Bayi is played by Mark Chao (Trieu Huu Dinh), who does a pretty decent job of playing Hu as a young man who gets himself in a situation he never imagined. He falls in love with Shirley, now played by Yao Chen. Who doesn’t offer much to the role until really, we find her again years later. It is then that we see her character grow but in an unexpected manner. While the character of Wang Kaixuan was a pivotal role in Mojin, in this film.
He is still comic relief in the form of Li Chen (Ly Than). However, instead of really making an impact like the other film. He is more secondary this time around with Eurasian actor Rhydian Vaughan making more of an impact in his role of Bureau 749 member Chen Dong. Tiffany Tang barely makes any sort of impact in her role of Wei Wei. Who also is part of the new team and one can only guess she is there so Yao Chen isn’t the only female in action against the alien threat.
The visual effects are a hit and miss here. Some of the effects, such as the avalanche and the impact of the fire bats is quite nicely. The alien monsters themselves. A meshing of the titular American Werewolf in London with nasty dinosaur-like spine bones, are both good and bad. Sometimes they look good, sometimes not so much. The firebats are also a hit and miss. In their introduction scene, they look okay but in other scenes, not so much. There are some nice wire stunts and firepower that enhances the action but the visual effects have a tendency not to really make it believable at times.
Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe (Ma Thoi Den: Chin Tang Thap Quy) is a mixed bag that has an interesting story with twists but the visual effects and differentiation of certain characters make this a middle of the road film.