Picks and Pans Review: The Lost Empire
I don't want to say the plot of this lavish two-part movie is hard to follow, but there's a character called the Prince of Confusion who must have written the script.
Seriously, folks, the teleplay is by playwright David Henry Hwang (M.Butterfly). It tells of an American expert on Chinese culture (Dharma & Greg's Thomas Gibson) who is chosen by the Goddess of Mercy (Bai Ling) to join the Monkey King (Russell Wong) and other mythic figures on a mission to save an ancient manuscript from destruction by an evil, centuries-old emperor (Randall Duk Kim). Hwang's hope, apparently, is that the sound and fury of the special effects will hold the attention of the mass audience while he slips in some political content applicable to modern China. (The chief villain denounces liberals and tries to stamp out intellectual freedom.) The end product is an impressive but cluttered spectacle that falls a bit short as both education and entertainment. Yet The Lost Empire has its attractions, including the lovely Ling and Ric Young as a slippery Confucius.
Bottom Line: Dizzying adventure