Tracing Shadow (Review)
aka Zhui ying
Directed by Marco Mak Chi-Sin and Francis Ng Chun-Yu
Tracing Shadow hit the scene when a trailer with cool shots floated around the net and got people all exited it was a cool martial arts action film. But it is not a drama, is an action comedy fantasy reportedly inspired by the classic King Hu film Dragon Inn. And it does have some gorgeous shots, but it suffers from some plot weakness.
One thing Tracing Shadow does do that is unique is the use of look-alikes. Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and Andy Lau are all represented by not the actual performers, but by look-alikes. Eventually, more look-alikes show up, and we have a who’s who of Hong Kong celebrities running around, often in multiple instances. If this becomes more common, then we might have modern day versions of Brucespoiltation films! But, I would watch Clones of Jet Li, because, why the heck not? If it has dancing naked girls and bronzemen, all the better!
Let’s get on with the show….
In the fight for Supreme Martial Arts Master, Changgong just declares his opponent Na-Lan the winner despite being better. Changgong is leaving the martial world behind. In the Imperial City three thieves discuss the Emperor Ming’s secret hidden treasure, while their conversation is overheard by a lady with a giant many-colored hat named Xin (the lady, not the hat. The hat’s name is Gregory.) Xin notices Changgong playing music down below, and soon the two are connecting via the magic of music. Their rocking stylings (that were yanked from 12 Girls Band) come to a quick end, but Changgong manages to score a date that three days later under the full moon at the highest point in Imperial City with Xin.
Of course, the highest point is in the Imperial Palace. And the three thieves sneaking in, but Xin has already beat them to steal the map. They give chase, and we got wuxia flying action as they fly around on the roof tops in pursuit, Changgong watching the whole thing from afar. It starts to snow, so between the rooftop jumping, the nightlight under the full moon, and the snowfall, the film is looking pretty gorgeous right now. Thus, the opening credits roll.
Changgong fights his way in to save the cheerleader, save the world. But he’s also ticked at her for being stood up. She gets cornered by the three thieves who together outclass her, but Changgong helps, and when the three start to attack each other over the map, Changgong just knocks it far away from the abandoned temple they are fighting in.
The map is found by a random guy out walking, who happens to be a businessman who opens shops in the abandoned Buddhist temple they were fighting in.
It is now 5 years later. There is no reason for it to be five years later, but it just is so go with it. Don’t question Tracing Shadows or it will trace a shadow upside your backside!
By now Changgong is running a restaurant where his grown up daughter Wei is the waitress. Wei is an adoptive daughter they picked up within the past five years, though that’s not explained right away and is confusing as to why there is suddenly a grown up daughter. The restaurant is not doing well because they can’t make much food.
The thieves are also here as well with their own shops. They’ve modified their appearances and now look like Jet Li, Jackie Chan, and Andy Lau (named Jet, Jackie Tang, and Andy.) Xin meets secretly with the Mayor Gu (who is trying to bang her) while the three thieves creep around looking for the map.
The next morning Lord Xu arrives, he is the landlord (who took over after the death of his father, the guy we saw previously, but that isn’t explained until much later, either. The film doesn’t bother to explain much of anything right away!) and we get scenes where Jaycee Chan is confronting a guy pretending to be Jackie Chan about being late for the rent. Lord Xu also has a thing for Wei, but she isn’t interested, because she’s a tough girl.
The next night as Xin is getting more town records books from the Mayor, a band of ninja attackers go after Xin. Changgong saves her, because that’s what he does. And he gets her flowers to show up Mayor Gu and his fake flowers. Mayor Gu is not done trying to seduce her, by the next day he has the three thieves agreeing to take part in a martial arts demonstration where he will pretend to beat them all up. And he’s dressed very similar to Changgong. It all goes awry, and Wei ends up blaming Lord Xu because that’s what she does, and Lord Xu shuts down the shops of the three thieves.
Lord Xu goes ranting around town and while arguing with a fortune teller, Lord Xu reveals he has the treasure map that his father found. Lord Xu and Wei make up a bit while talking at night, but mostly because Xin is having her talk with him to get to the map.
More ninja dudes attack and Changgong has to defend Xin again. The Mayor goes crazy and sends out pigeons all over with messages about the treasure in town. One of the pigeons gets captured by Mongolian raiders and another by the Manchurian army. Soon every rapscallion in the area comes to town, including all sorts of other people dressed up as Jackie Chan, Andy Lau, Jet Li, and even Jay Chaus and Ekin Chengs! It’s look-a-like hilarity. The Manchurians who come to town are lead by Na-Lan, the guy Changgong let win the Martial Arts championship.
Meanwhile the heroes (Xin, Wei, and Lord Xu) are looking for the treasure with the map. The map has lots of clues on it, with traps in the underground cave where the treasure is, sort of like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade meets The Goonies. So let’s do the truffle shuffle and get to treasure hunting! Back in town, the copycats and Manchurians brawl, while Changgong and Na-Lan spot each other and start to fight. They fight in a field because why not go somewhere else to fight? It just makes sense.
Underground with the treasure hunting crew, they run into the trap that is the letters (in this case Chinese characters) written on tiles that is a trap that you have to get the right sentence. Do it wrong and the characters come up in random pillars that will smash you. Na-Lan and Changgong’s battle takes place right above the letter trap, and above ground the two are fired at by cannons, causing them to fall through the ceiling and continue fighting while the letters smash around them. Don’t worry about the Manchurian army that was shooting at them, they disappear forever. Xin eventually helps her hubby while Lord Xu and Wei get into the treasure room and find the treasure.
Na-Lan punches the parents through the wall and gets into the room. Na-Lan gets the treasure…..a pickaxe! Yes, the pickaxe from which he worked up and built a nation, but Na-Lan throws it up in disgust, and it eventually comes down on his head, killing him. Maybe you should have eBayed that pickaxe.
Then the whole place falls down, because tombs all implode when the treasure is found. It is the rule. See any video game for an example. Or any movie involving the finding of treasure in secret tombs. Despite a false scare, all of the heroes are a-okay and live happily ever. Xin even learns that her husband is her treasure, because the movie needed another cliche. They play together in tune with grassblades.
The town builds a theme park about Emperor Ming to attract tourists and everyone rocks out as the film ends with an emoticon moon. You read that right.
Rated 6/10 (Old Buddha, buy a flag, fake flowers, Fortune and glory, Shaolin Hopscotch, pigeon trouble)
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