17th Apr2018

‘Guardians of the Tomb’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Li Bingbing, Kellan Lutz, Wu Chun, Kelsey Grammer, Stef Dawson, Shane Jacobson, Jason Chong, Eva Liu | Written by Kimble Rendall, Gary Hamilton, Jonathan Scanlon, Paul Staheli | Directed by Kimble Rendall

guardians-tomb-dvd

After her brother Luke (Chun) disappears on an expedition, scientist Jia (Li) goes in search of him with the aid of CEO Mason Kitteridge (Grammer) and paramedic Ridley (Lutz). Their quest leads them to an underground tomb, which houses an ancient Chinese emperor from 200 BC, and sees them battling hordes of giant spiders as they endeavour to find Luke and make it out of the deadly tomb alive.

After debuting in China cinemas at the beginning of the year, scoring $6 million on its opening weekend, this Chinese-Australian co-production goes direct to DVD in the UK, placing it alongside its China-financed brethren such as Lost in the Pacific and Skiptrace, whereas you can clearly tell the filmmakers were looking for a Raiders of the Lost Ark/The Mummy style of cinematic success. Although replace the latters undead Egyptian trope with hordes of giant killer spiders and you can figure out what kind of film you’re getting here – a combination of action, adventure and horror that Hollywood markets as PG-13 friendly “fun”. Although in this case the horror is amped up… there’s a reason this film was originally called The Nest you know.

Yes, despite the rather generic “tomb raider”-esque title, Guardians of the Tomb is actually part of the small pantheon of killer spider movies a la Spiders, Eight Legged Freaks, and Giant Spider Invasion… I mention these movies as, like them, this particular arachnid story not only features spiders that are not of your regular lethality – these guys have, as the plot ultimately explains, been genetically modified, giving them venom that kills faster and more deadlier than the usual poisonous spider bite. Though to be fair, just having regular, run-of-the-mill, poisonous spiders would have been enough here, given the sheer number of them!

Guardians of the Tomb comes from director Kimble Rendall, whose previous film – the killer-shark movie Bait – was lensed and released in some territories in 3D. And it would seem, by some of the shots within this film, that a 3D release may have been planned for this too. And much like Bait, which took an odd concept: that of sharks hunting people in a supermarket, Guardians of the Tomb manages to take a high-concept plot: an ancient burial site guarded by a plethora of eight-legged villians and turn it into a fun and frightening film that screams B-movie, yet at the same time warrants more respect than being dumped onto DVD and VOD – especially given its cast.

Led by Kelsey Grammar, who re-teams with his Expendables 3 co-star Kellan Lutz, in the films action hero “Indiana Jones” role, Guardians of the Tomb features a number of international actors, in particular Bingbing Li – who is not only central to the films story, given her character is the motivation for this quest, but also central to its cast. Her performance gives the film a gravitas, she takes her role so seriously that it counters the more ridiculous aspects of the film – including the killer spiders AND Grammar’s scenery chewing CEO.

A throwback to the sheer fun of 80s Indiana Jones with shades of The Mummy’s globe-trotting stories, Guardians of the Tomb is a fun, if slight action-adventure that deserves to do well on DVD. Though for killer-spider fans Gary Jones’ 2000 B-movie flick Spiders is still the one to beat!

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