Candle in the Tomb (鬼吹灯之精绝古城) follows a recently retired army man on dangerous tomb raiding adventures through snowy mountain of Kunlun to desert of Xinjiang. Zombies, ghosts, critters, 80s hairstyles, quotations from Chairman Mao, you name it, we got it.
I have reasons to believe this show passed the stringent Chinese censorship unscathed solely on their strategic placement of Mao and Deng. No self-respecting CC bureaucrat would take a scissor to a show that quotes the little red book and displays a healthy respect for local officials who voluntarily surrender ancient treasures to the government. We, the audience, understand perfectly the show is in no way mocking the establishment. And, it is most definitely not doing verbal eye rolling every time the characters express their patriotism to the motherland.
Now that we got the disclaimer out of the way, we can move on to the show itself.
To truly appreciate the show, one must watch the first 5 episodes in one sitting. The first 2 episodes build up your tolerance for crime against fashion and political brainwashing. The 3rd episode introduces you to the eeriness reserved for places devoid of human activity. The 4th episode scares you into turning on all the lights. I did not scream when I watched the scene-that-shall-not-be-named. At most, I yelped then politely invited my mom to watch the rest of the episode with me. The 5th episode brings you back to the wonderful land of open space and bright sunlight.
For the scene-that-shall-not-be-named, I will not post any picture or give any description because that is the only thing in horror films that unnerves me. A survey on weibo showed most viewers chose that scene as the “most memorable” scene in the first 6 episodes. You will not miss it when you see it.
She had signed up to take them through the woods, not into a tomb. She was ready to cut off Panzi’s hand for refusing to give up the jade that would’ve jeopardized their chance of getting out the tomb alive.
But what scares me is the not the 8-foot zombie. It is finding a metal door in an ancient tomb. It is very disorienting. Since it blocks out the slow moving zombie, so we are all good… For the moment. Turns out, they finally found the place they were supposed to find when they set out: The WWII Japanese military base. You can feel their collective relief when they turned on the generator. Let there be light! And weapons!
For every base, there is an exit. Hopefully, not one that is blocked by a zombie.
Well, well, well, it was another branch of the tomb. The military base was built along side the ancient tomb and the Japanese had already raided the place and all its contents. However, there appeared to be one coffin that hadn’t been opened. They lit up the candles and cracked opened the lid, which led to the scene-that-shall-not-be-named.
With no way out of the base, the team back tracked to the 8-foot zombie burial room. Fights ensued with guns blazing, grenades exploding, ax chopping. The zombie was unstoppable. Then, Hu Bayi shot at the ceiling and acid fire rained down burning everything in the room. And I mean everything.