Schemes In Antiques is an epic battle of mind with many puzzles
Run Time: 123 minutes
Director: Derek Kwok
Actors: Li Xian, Xin Zhilei, Lei Jiayin
Language: Mandarin with English and Chinese subtitles
In theaters from December 9 (Singapore)
Jumping on the bandwagon of Chinese tomb raiding and puzzle solving shows, like The Lost Tomb series and Candle In The Tomb series, Schemes In Antiques is another such tantalizing film that emphasizes antiques.
Adapted from Ma Boyong’s novel of the same title, Schemes In Antiques follows the story of Xu Yuan (Lei Jiayin), who inherits the talent for appraising antiques, but makes a living as a small shop owner. electronic. Xu Yuan is forced to uncover the truth about a Tang Dynasty Buddha head, as he is embroiled in all-out war against this priceless artifact.
Yao Buran (Li Xian), a gifted antique appraiser, who seeks the Buddha head for his own program, confronts Xu Yuan. In an epic battle, the two clash over who can accurately and quickly assess an array of artifacts.
Yao embodies the modern and seemingly more professional appraiser, with a neat suit, a pair of metal-rimmed glasses, and white gloves to complete the look. It contrasts sharply with the disheveled, half-awake Xu, who resembles Guan Ning, a character also played by Lei in A Writer’s Odyssey. But as cliché as it sounds, you can never judge Xu by how he looks, as he possesses comparable skills to Yao, if not better.
The two assessors are constantly struggling to locate the real head of Buddha, which is one of the highlights. The chemistry between the two actors triggers engaging scenes that are never embarrassing or boring to watch. In fact, one of the scenes even weaved in some humorous interactions, which toned down the seriousness of these mystery shows.
Another strong point of Schemes In Antiques is the enigmatic clues left by Xu’s father. The puzzles, which tend to play on words and codes, may also remind you of The Lost Tomb series and the Candle In The Tomb series. They not only play a crucial role in advancing the plot, but they will tease your brain, making the movie more entertaining. People who like to solve puzzles will undoubtedly enjoy these segments.
However, the first riddle is actually a gift for the end. While you probably can’t guess exactly how that comes into play in the end, there’s still a relentless nagging thought that this first riddle can’t be that simple. When all is revealed, it feels like a wild goose hunt, which unfortunately ruins the entire experience of the film.
While Schemes In Antiques isn’t an entirely bad movie and offers a journey filled with clever puzzles, it could do better with a more satisfying reveal.
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