Certified critic on Rotten Tomatoes. Member of the Houston Film Critics Society. Also writes for Bounding Into Comics and GeeksHaveGame.
Playing with Rubber Snakes
Written and directed by a group of guys that are either writing a film for the first time or have been a part of films that no one has ever heard of, 7 Guardians of the Tomb claims to be the largest co-production between China and Australia to date but it feels like the type of film that was trying to fail from the start. The sci-fi horror thriller can’t decide what title to call itself as it makes the rounds as 7 Guardians of the Tomb, has an opening title sequence without the seven, and was originally known as Nest which is what they should have stuck with. The release of the film was bizarre, as well. Released in theaters the same day as it hit VOD and digital HD, 7 Guardians of the Tomb played theatrically in Houston, TX at a regular theater for one week, at the local dollar theater the following week, and was pulled entirely from theaters the Friday after that. It doesn’t hit DVD and Blu-ray until April 24, 2018.
Li Bingbing (Forbidden Kingdom, Transformers: Age of Extinction) stars as Jia, an expert on venomous creatures. She likes to show off how poisonous snakes can be before taunting children with a rubber snake immediately afterwards. Jia has been fighting with her younger brother Luke (Wu Chun, 14 Blades, Magic to Win). At a young age, Jia and Luke’s parents disappeared after their plane crashed. Their father was the CEO of a profitable organization and his partner Mason (Kelsey Grammar) took over soon after his disappearance. Mason reels Jia into his current project after he informs her that her brother is missing. Luke had discovered the pristine remains of a Chinese emperor from 200 B.C. It was long foretold that there was an elixir that could grant immortality and Mason wants it more than anything.
Jia joins a group of, “scientists,” that are more stereotypical than you could possibly imagine. There’s the fat guy who eats donuts, shows off his gut, and wisecracks about everything (Shane Jacobson), the egotistical bad boy who’s not so secretly a gigantic douchebag (Kellan Lutz), the slutty know-it-all (Stef Dawson), and the guy who continues to do the dumbest things imaginable despite countless warnings but continues to live only to share his Chinese wisdom with everyone (Jason Chong). For some reason, there’s sulfur deposits in the area which gives the massive sandstorm approaching the chance to have explosive flatulence whenever lightning strikes.
The film attempts to keep it hidden that genetically altered spiders have somehow taken over this underground replica of the town a Chinese emperor lived in while living above ground, but it’s pretty obvious from the start with all of the human corpses with spider bites all over them, the insane amount of cobwebs, and hollow cow and rat carcasses being squeezed dry and left behind like a Capri Sun that had all of its delicious liquid sucked out of it. Some of the spider sequences make your skin crawl and some of the corpses are as twisted and distorted as the poor individuals who watched The Ring and didn’t last longer than seven days.
You can’t help but notice the one giant spider who is always just trailing behind our sort-of heroes appearing only to shake its front legs in the air like that old neighbor of yours who shakes his fists angrily at the whippersnappers who trample through his lawn. The intimidation tactics of the spiders are called into question when one of them is literally killed by the sheer masculinity of one of Kellan Lutz’s abs. The spider simply touches Lutz’s stomach underwater and it explodes into an eight legged jelly.
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There really is no acting whatsoever in 7 Guardians of the Tomb. The stone cold line delivery in every scene makes it seem like everyone is reading cue cards. Driving through a sandstorm that farts explosions and belches electricity in the air doesn’t have anyone yelling, screaming, or being worried in the slightest. An entire car load of people is quiet, calm, and simply looks out the window as they stare a horrible death directly in the face and barely blink. Lines like, “Hurry up!” and, “This way!” would have you thinking everyone would be running since that is how you rush from one place to the next. Jia and her scientist pals walk at a snail’s pace to escape a rushing horde of spiders. No sane person would walk at a leisurely pace when the walls are moving due to the vast majority of spiders all around them.
7 Guardians of the Tomb is purposely ripping off the likes of Indiana Jones (both The Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade), Jackie Chan’s Armour of God II, and National Treasure, but is more like one of the Scorpion King sequels in its horrid execution, atrocious acting, and stale screenplay with a story that is overrun with cliches and unoriginality. To make matters worse, the ending is nothing more than sequel bait. If you’ve ever wanted to see anything where you’d actually root for spiders to eat or slaughter every human character in an hour and a half time span, then 7 Guardians of the Tomb may be worth excavating from the buried depths of nearly unwatchable filmmaking.
© 2018 Chris Sawin
Chris Sawin (author) from Houston, TX on March 03, 2018:
Oh, Keith. You are so right. This thing is awful, but is about as appetizing as a wet gym sock.
Keith Abt from The Garden State on March 03, 2018:
Oh my... this looks deliciously awful. I love how the title font on the first pic resembles the "Guardians of the Galaxy" logo