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“The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure” (2022) Review: The Good and The Bad

An amateur film review writer who likes pretty much every film genre.

Directed by Kim Joung-hoon (The Accidental Detective) with a script by Chun Sung-il (All of Us Are Dead), the film stars Han Hyo-Joo, Sehun, Lee Kwang-Soo, Kang Ha-Neul, and many others as a gutsy crew of Joseon pirates and bandits. They must battle stormy waters, puzzling clues, and militant rivals in search of royal gold lost at sea.

With similarities to the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, The Pirate: The Last Royal Treasure is fun in parts and really had the potential to be a good piece of entertainment. Alas, it did not achieve that and let us learn why.

The Good

There are only two good parts of the movie:

1. Solid Production

Despite the sluggish tempo and underwhelming premise, the film looked fantastic. Okay, some of the CGI isn't that appealing and will likely age poorly. However, even Hollywood is not immune to bad CGI. I'll give the film a pass there.

But, the most impressive aspects of the film were the design of the ship and the beautiful setting. The filmmakers created a realistic-looking ship and the sets and real-life locations were mesmerizing. All around, just a solid production that elevates the experience of watching this movie.

2. Good Actors Leading the Way

This is perhaps the only reason I was able to complete the movie. The film would have been a disaster if it hadn't been for the performers giving it their all.

Considering the material they were given, Kang Ha-Neul, Han Hyo-Joo, Lee Kwang-Soo, and the rest of the cast did an incredible job. Their roles aren't very memorable, but you can watch them go through this treasure-hunting journey because they're so entertaining and lively onscreen.

Such a shame the filmmakers couldn’t back them up.

Joseon pirates and bandits

Joseon pirates and bandits

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The Bad

I had three specific problems with the movie:

1. Hard Time Investing in the Journey

Let us talk about the story itself. Written by Chung Sung-il (All of Us Are Dead), the film obviously used the Pirates of the Caribbean film series as its inspiration. Pirates look for ancient treasure, using elaborate maps and clues, with wacky and over the top characters leading the way. The similarities are very transparent.

Despite this inspiration, though, The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure totally lacks the sense of urgency you saw in Pirates of the Caribbean. The pirates found a treasure map and now they want to go look for it.

But why? You could say they are pirates, so that’s a thing for them. But that’s real life. That doesn’t work for a movie. Give us a reason to see the pirates succeed in their journey just as the Caribbean film series managed to do. This movie didn’t give us one, so why should we watch their journey?

Han Hyo-joo & Kang Ha-neul

Han Hyo-joo & Kang Ha-neul

2. The Romance Subplot is Still a Thing?

Can we please stop putting two good-looking actors into romantic relationships? Can’t they just be friends for once?

The filmmakers made a bad decision to force a romance subplot into an action-adventure movie. That kind of subplot can work, but not here. It does not elevate the story whatsoever. If anything, it puts the main plot on hold. Just focus on one thing. Don’t try to appeal to the romance enthusiast. Let them be friends!

3. Poor Pacing

The film's major flaw is its sluggish tempo. There were new individuals and locations introduced out of nowhere, with no explanation as to why or how they arrived. The treasure search begins and ends in one scene before moving on to a new place. There's no time to take in all the information being delivered. And even if we had time, the comedic and romantic sidebars don't add anything the main plot.

Kang Ha-neul & Lee Kwang-soo being the absolute duo

Kang Ha-neul & Lee Kwang-soo being the absolute duo

Words of Recommendation

Going into this film, I was eager. I recognized a few of the cast members and the concept seemed familiar, yet intriguing. Unfortunately, the film was a huge letdown. I would like to give this a 5/10. My recommendation is that you just might be better skipping this one.

© 2022 Fadhli Dzil

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