Take Tomb Raider, mesh it with an element from the 1999 Mummy film, and add some insane-looking arachnids and you have this Chinese-Australian co-production.
Three days ago, Luke and Ethan were hired by Ethan’s father Mason to research an abandoned Chinese tomb with a 200-year old mummified Emperor. They never returned. Desperate to find his son and continue the research, Mason hires Luke’s sister Jia, who like Ethan, is skilled in researching tombs and knows much about the area. Jia only takes the job with the intention to find her brother. Mason comes along for the job and they are joined by Gary, Milly, Chen Xhu, and Jack Ridley.
As the group heads towards the tomb, they soon learn that the search is going to be the least of their problems. The tomb is protected by funnel web spiders. However, these spiders are not the ordinary ones, but rather ones who are more deadly than anyone could imagine. As the team begin to fall prey not only with the spiders, but learning the truth as to why the tomb was to be researched in the first place, Jia and Jack lead the way to not only get away from the spiders, but attempt to find Luke and Ethan and get out of the tomb no matter what it takes.
The adventurer film is an interesting subgenre of the action film to explore, because there are many ideas that can happen. It is like the Choose Your Adventure book series, you can just change ideas here and there. Everyone has had their share of classics like the Indiana Jones films (let’s not talk about the last one) and then there are recent films like The Mummy and the Tomb Raider films. China has had its share of the genre as well with Armour of God and the recent Mojin: The Lost Legend.
This film, a Chinese-Australian co-production, brings in the nature vs. human motif with the use of funnel web spiders as the protectors of the tomb. Interesting enough, as Stef Dawson’s Milly lets the viewer know, are only found in Australia. Why they are in China is a question that is never answered. What we do know is that these spidersare very deadly and even more deadly to the point where when one of our adventurers are bitten, they are given not one, but two doses of anti-venom to cure him. The spider themselves are CGI and they are for the most part hit-and-miss. Sometimes they look good, and other times, they don’t look convincingly scary.
The cast is an ensemble lead by Chinese actress Li Bingbing, who also serves as a producer, as Jia, the young woman who only takes the dangerous job to find her estranged brother Ethan, played by actor Wu Chun. To bring that extra edge in terms of action, Kellan Lutz is brought in to play Jack, a search and rescue expert who takes the lead for the adventure and plays a vital part in the film especially when it comes to having to help the team keep their composure in a time of great danger. As for Kelsey Grammer, his character of Mason is the one who hires the team and even joins them in hopes to not only find his son, but complete the investigation as answers are soon revealed as to why this investigation in that important.
So how is the overall film that is 7 Guardians of the Tomb? It is not a great film, but at the same time, it is not completely horrendous. There have been far worse than this. The spiders themselves are a hit and miss in terms of its CGI. And if you’ve seen one adventurer in a tomb film, you’ve seen them all.
WFG RATING: C
Gravitas Ventures and Arclight Films present a Nest Holdings/Screening Otters Production in association with Rong De Culture. Director: Kimble Rendell. Producers: Deng Shuo, Gary Hamilton, Li Bingbing, and Ye Ying. Writers: Kimble Rendell and Paul Staheli; story by Rendell, Jonathan Scanlon, and Gary Hamilton. Cinematography: Brad Shield. Editing: Mat Evans.
Cast: Li Bingbing, Kellan Lutz, Kelsey Grammer, Wu Chun, Shane Jacobson, Stef Dawson, Jason Chong, Eva Liu, Ryan Johnson, Yasmin Kassim, Victoria Liu, Kent Lee.
Gravitas Ventures and Arclight Films will release this film to select theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on February 23.