CAPSULE: In the first Chinese-Australian film co-production an ancient Chinese emperor guards the secret of immortality hidden in an underground cave and the emperor is guarded by an army of spiders bigger than a man's hand. Crawly things that guard a tomb go back at least as far as the 1999 version of THE MUMMY. This telling would be of above- average quality on the SyFy Channel and that is probably where it is heading. Rating: low +1 (-4 to +4) or 5/10
The film is entitled GUARDIANS OF THE TOMB. (It is also known as 7 GUARDIANS OF THE TOMB though there are not seven guardians.) Perhaps the title is intended to remind filmgoers of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. The title sounds like it promises a martial arts film, but there are no martial arts. It is not clear how martial arts would work in a giant spider movie. In the film, legend has it that a historic emperor had the secret of living hundreds of years. A young explorer is searching for the secret, but falls into heretofore-undiscovered cavern. Now he is missing, and his sister (played by Li Bingbing) wants to go find him. She is joined by, among others, Mason (Kelsey Grammer), the CEO of a large pharma corporation.
The small band of explorers enters into the extensive underground cave. One of their first discoveries is that the cave is inhabited by spiders as big as Moon Pies. And there are lots of them. Relatively recently there were also rats, but the spiders eliminated them and there are just dead rat carcasses cluttering up the floor. The spiders seem to be in some way connected with the elixir of long life. But if you want spiders, there is still no shortage of them. They are all over the caves. One friend who saw the film says it was "Go someplace. Fight spiders. Go someplace. Fight spiders. Go someplace. Fight spiders." The spiders are done in digital and they look it. The digital imagery has improved since the film was made evidently. It dates the imagery. Still, the effects are clearly newer than the plot of icky arthropods guarding sinister archeology. We saw that in THE MUMMY (1999). The dialog seems to be on the level of dialog in a SyFi Channel movie.
Film production from foreign countries used to put an American or Canadian into a film to give North American film viewers someone to identify with. That appears to be what was done here, but Grammer is an unusual choice. I associate him with comedy, so it is hard to take him seriously in a non-comedy. I doubt that he took much pride in his presence in this film. In addition, the film has been dubbed into English and by somebody with a very different voice. So he speaks English with an unfamiliar voice, and that just does not sound right.
The script creates only superficial characters and has very little to offer other than repetitive spider attacks. The film may be entertaining, but it does little more than that. The 7 GUARDIANS OF THE TOMB rates a low +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 5/10. Gravitas Ventures will release 7 GUARDIANS OF THE TOMB in theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on Feb. 23rd.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4915672/reference
What others are saying: https://tinyurl.com/asianfilmstrike-7guardians
Mark R. Leeper Copyright 2018 Mark R. Leeper