The Lost Treasure begins with treasure hunter Eddie Fox (Josh Margulies, The Unhandymen, Water) having a book full of secrets literally dropped in his lap. In particular, it contains the location of a powerful spear wielded by Hawaiian kings. It’s not by chance that he received the book either, it was written by his great uncle, whose compass Eddie uses on his expeditions.
Before he and his assistant Maleko (William Roehl) can figure out what to do with it they’re visited by Tanya (Stella Tinucci, Love Goes Through Your Mind) who somehow knows he has the book and wants him to find the spear before the evil Charles Wellington (Dezmond Gilla, How to Spell Revenge, As Words Breathe) does. Before they can ask for more information, Wellington’s henchman Kainoa (Kava Jones) turns up on Fox’s doorstep as well.
I should probably mention that The Lost Treasure is a kid’s film before I go any further. I know I don’t usually review much that could be called “family-friendly” but it occurs to me that the next generation of action and horror fans have to start somewhere. So, if there’s any interest I’ll try reviewing more of these films that come my way.
Writer/director/star Stella Tinucci takes Hawaiian mythology and mixes in a few concepts, if not actual scenes, from Raiders of the Lost Ark and adjusted them for the film’s rather low budget and intended audience. The result is a lot more amusing than I expected it to be.
As Eddie Fox Margulies comes off like some of the incarnations of Dr. Who, obviously intelligent but disorganized and scatterbrained at times. But not to the point where he can’t think his way out of trouble when he has to. He even looks a bit like Sylvester McCoy in several scenes. Tinucci’s Tanya makes an effective partner for him. She’s cute and appealing as well as resourceful, not merely another damsel in distress.
As The Lost Treasure’s villain, Dezmond Gilla manages to be convincingly evil without being so sinister that he’ll give the little ones nightmares, even when he’s plotting the heroes’ deaths.
The supporting cast is solid, if underused. Roehl is good as Fox’s level-headed assistant and Jones looks the part as the big and dumb bad guy. The film’s other two characters henchwoman Leilani (Terry Bookhart, Secrets in the Water, VooDoo Curse: The Giddeh) and supernatural entity Mahina (Angelica Quinn, I Was a Simple Man, Tales of the Circle Keys) round out the very small cast.
Tinucci also had the intelligence to keep The Lost Treasure short, it runs about an hour, not including credits Which means it’s over before short attention spans start to wander. And before the constraints of its budget start to become too obvious.
On the downside, The Lost Treasure plays it a little too cautiously at times. For example, there’s a scene where characters throw coconuts at each other and it’s very obvious that they’re just gently lobbing them at each other to avoid injuries. There’s also a lack of double entendres or anything else that might go over kids’ heads but give adults watching along with them a chuckle.
Still, The Lost Treasure managed to hold my attention considerably better than recent dreck like Amityville in the Hood and Rucker that were supposedly made for viewers like me. If it can do that, I imagine it will keep its target audience amused as well.