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Review: Chinese action-adventure spinoff ‘Mojin: The Worm Valley,’ diverting but derivative

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A scene from the movie “Mojin: The Worm Valley.”
(Well Go USA)

Like J.K. Rowling, Chinese author Zhang Muye started writing his “Indiana Jones”-like fantasy series “Ghost Blows Out the Light” almost as a hobby; before he knew it, his work had grown to eight volumes and become so popular that it sold to multiple movie and TV producers.

“Mojin: The Worm Valley” is the sequel to the 2015 blockbuster film “Mojin: The Lost Legend,” adapted from the second half of Zhang’s novels. The first half was adapted by a different company as “Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe,” and the books have also inspired three web series — all about a band of tomb raiders beset by vengeful supernatural creatures.

Review: ‘Mojin: The Lost Legend’ is an overreaching action-comedy »

It’s not necessary to have read or seen any of what came before to watch “Worm Valley” — which, frankly, is the film’s major failing. This latest spinoff from the “Ghost Blows Out the Light” franchise doesn’t feel like it’s part of a rich mythology. It’s more a hodgepodge of second-hand chase scenes and spectacle, borrowed from better action-adventure pictures.

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After an overlong prologue, the treasure-hunting team ventures into a monster-ridden valley to remove a curse, where they encounter giant lizards and glowing insects and take a pulse-pounding plunge over a waterfall.

But while “Worm Valley” is generally diverting, the plotting is remedial — and devoid of whatever personality Zhang brought to his books. There’s just enough story here to support the next big special effects sequence.

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‘Mojin: The Worm Valley’

In Mandarin with English subtitles

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Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Playing: AMC Atlantic Times Square 14, Monterey Park

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