Undiscovered Tomb

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“Tomb service.”

Obviously inspired by a certain raider of tombs, this has Yuan as Georgia, who was rescued from an orphanage, along with her sister (Koinuma) and trained in… well, raiding tombs. When their foster father vanishes while on an expedition seeking the secret of immortality, the two siblings head off to look for him, only to come under attack from a range of locals, natives and the local fauna. Meanwhile, Professor Ivy Chan (Shimada) links up with billionaire art-collector Michael Lui (Wong), and discovers that shady forces are after a relic possessed by Ivy, and that they need to follow the girls into the remote jungle.

The best thing about the film is certainly Yuan, and it’s not surprising when you consider her pedigree – her mother is Cheng Pei-Pei, the Jade Fox herself. She has the necessary charisma and action chops to succeed, and it’s a shame her IMDB filmography included only half a dozen features after this one. The problems with the film are not just elsewhere, they’re almost everything else. Koinuma is profoundly irritating, whining perpetually about make-up, and the attacks serve no purpose beyond an apparent requirement for an action scene every 10 minutes – it’s painfully obvious the same guys are playing all the villains, and there’s only about four of them. Finally, if you’re going to write a script that requires a 20-foot snake, check with your special effects house they can deliver something at least slightly convincing. This step was clearly omitted entirely here.

Despite these painfully obvious flaws, I can’t say I was ever bored here. There’s no shortage of action, and it’s decently-staged, with Yuen proving a more than adequate Joliealike. I also enjoyed the majestic (Chinese?) landscapes which acted as a spectacular backdrop for the jungle sequences. Overall, it was certainly more entertaining than the over-blown Cradle of Life, and on a per-dollar of budget basis, probably comes out ahead of its original inspiration as well.

Dir: Douglas Kung
Star: Marsha Yuen, Miyuki Koinuma, Yoko Shimada, Ken Wong

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