Three new friends are trying to save humanity from a former enemy in Yang Lei’s The Legend of Pearl Naga”, an adventure that borrows freely from Lucas / Spielberg / Jackson’s gamebooks without departing from the fantastic atmosphere of contemporary porcelain action It looks better than many of its peers, with only one or two flaws in the design of production, special effects and costumes. (The Cheesy CG companion of our main hero is the biggest thumb pain). Having fun, but barely new enough to appeal to American viewers outside Asian cinema circles, it will probably move quickly from movie theaters to a quieter video life.
Darren Wang plays Ni Kongkong, a so-called “prince of thieves” who tries to steal a prince when monsters hit him. They are members of the winged tribe, flying humanoids whose race was defeated in a war many centuries ago. These descendants serve Vlad, looking for a former “Pearl Naga”: apparently unrelated to any of the real uses of the Naga name, this is a brilliant and mysterious orb that Vlad needs to unlock something called L eye in the sky and cause the end of the world for humanity.
All the remains of the winged tribe are not wicked. Raven, a wingless descendant, is an agent who joins Ni while he seems to have a gift to protect Vlad’s pearl. (His brother, faithful to his people, is with the wicked). And after Vlad killed the prince, the other son of the king, Herley, covered himself, joining Ni and Raven without explaining who he is or why he wants to save the pearl.
The search for this trio has something of a Luke / Han / Leia flavor, but the cast is not charismatic enough to go beyond the generic dialogue and intrigue. The most intriguing elements of the scenario relate to Ni: the ingenious gadgets he uses to carry out his illicit exploits; the scar on his hand shining blue when he’s near the pearl. Oh, and Ni’s animal companion, a pangolin named Oka, happily rolls into an armored ball every time Ni needs a projectile weapon.
Our heroes go to the night swamp cave, a meeting place in the underworld where we hope to find Captain Jack Sparrow; Instead, we have a bit of sexual humor that risks making the film inappropriate for children who are Legend’s most natural demographic. The performances become rather wide for a moment, before the image returns to focus on the apocalyptic court action that gives Ni the opportunity to save humanity from, among other things, a swarm of flying tapirs.