Issue #217a         HOME          E-mail:        BACK ISSUES               June 22nd, 2004

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Treasure Hunt
(1994; Golden Princess/Eastern Renaissance Pictures)

Cantonese: Fa kei siu lam
Mandarin: Hua qi shao lin
English: American Shaolin

RATING: 6/10


This typical Jeff Lau Chun-wai confection (which he also wrote under his usual pseudonym, Kei On) is all over the map but remains afloat thanks the talents of its two stars, who manage to even make it out-and-out charming at times. CIA agent Jeffrey Chang Ching (Chow Yun-fat) is dispatched to China to steal a national treasure but does not know just exactly what it is. Meeting up with his contact, Tong Ling (Chin Han), Jeff hides out at Shaolin Temple, where he encounters Miss Mei (Jacklyn Wu Chien-lien). A prisoner of the monks, the girl possesses powers that allow her to pass objects through solid surfaces and can even make flowers grow...on people! After some initial friction, Jeffrey begins to hit it off with the monks, introducing them to new things and even teaching them to play baseball. Smitten with Miss Mei, Jeffrey wants to take her back to America but is unsure of what to say when she asks him to stay in China with her. In the meantime, he discovers his objective and also something about Tong that may pose a threat to the mission.

Chin Han (background), Chow Yun-fat (middle), Phillip Kwok Jacklyn Wu Gordon Lau

The comedy is mostly lowbrow, the sentiment is laid on with a trowel, and the violence causes a rather jarring change in tone (in other words, it's a typical Jeff Lau movie) but Chow and Wu are such an appealing couple, they transcend the pedestrian material. Shaw Brothers kung fu fans will get a major kick out of watching veteran favorites Gordon Lau Kar-fai (appropriately cast as the abbot of Shaolin Temple) and Phillip Kwok Tsui (amusing as an exceptionally rude cab driver) go at it with each other and there is a fun in-joke reference to Chow's popular PRISON ON FIRE movies. Roy Chiao Hung, Michael Wong Man-tak, and Jun Kunimura also appear.


While it likely represents an improvement over Mei Ah's initial, non-anamorphic DVD, this is a slightly disappointing entry in the company's new 16:9 line. The image quality is good (the blues in Peter Pau Tak-hei's cinematography come across nicely) and the print is generally clean but scratches and speckles that could have been removed have been left in and the English subtitles are not improved at all. The original mono tracks have also been dropped in favour of 5.1 and DTS re-mixes. Some separations have been added and the audio engineers have crafted a fairly good soundstage, given the era of the materials. Alas, there are no extras, unless you include Mei Ah's useless Data Bank feature.

Jacklyn Wu Jacklyn Wu (left), Chow Yun-fat Chow Yun-fat

This DVD is available at:

Images in this review courtesy of Mei Ah. To read captions, hover mouse over image.

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Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2004. All Rights Reserved.

DVD Specifications

  • Hong Kong Release
  • NTSC Region 0
  • Mei Ah Entertainment #DVD-548
  • Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS
  • Post-synced Cantonese and Mandarin Language
  • Subtitles (Optional): English, Traditional & Simplified Chinese, Japanese
  • 9 Chapters
  • 16:9 Enhanced (1.78:1)
  • 105 Minutes

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Australia: M 15+
  • Hong Kong: II
  • Ontario: AA
  • Quebec: G
  • Contains moderate violence and coarse language


  • 10 A Masterpiece
  • 9 Excellent
  • 8 Highly Recommended
  • 7 Very Good
  • 6 Recommended
  • 5 Marginal Recommendation
  • 4 Not Recommended
  • 3 Poor
  • 2 Definitely Not Recommended
  • 1 Dreadful