Hong Kong filmmaker Ching Siu-tung directed this lavish epic adventure set simultaneously in the present and in 1930s China, with the entire cast playing dual roles. International action star Jet Li plays Chow Si-kit, a bookish novelist whose writing is adversely affected by his problematic relationship with his wife Monica (Rosamund Kwan). Chow is best known for a series of books under the "King of Adventurers" banner in which his courageous alter-ego, an adventurer patterned on Indiana Jones from Raiders of the Lost Ark, uses his impressive martial-arts skills and prodigious cunning to fight the Japanese. Chow's personal life is threatening his deadline, however, so his assistants Shing (Takeshi Kaneshiro) and Yvonne (Charlie Yeung) decide to help him out by setting up a story line, which is then played out for the viewer. Hero Chow (Li again) is asked to purloin a letter from the Japanese embassy by the Chinese government. Writer Chow is upset that the story's heroine, Cammy (Kwan again) reminds him of Monica, so he makes her a villain. Chow and Shing's 1930s alter-egos, meanwhile, are looking for a magical box (not unlike the Lost Ark of the Covenant in the film's model) which can be used to divine the future or -- if the necessary safeguards are not followed -- bring evil onto whoever opens it. The box is also being sought by the Japanese military and a group of criminals called the Salt Gang, whose leader (Ngai Sing) makes the mistake of opening it without taking steps to protect himself. Monica then takes over the writing and sends the characters to the magical scripture which can help them use the box's power to defeat their enemies. Another version of the film cuts all of the modern-day material and adds new 1930s footage to explain the abrupt shifts in story line caused by the intervention of the multiple authors. Law Kar-ying co-stars with Billy Chow.
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