Look Elsewhere: 'The Quest' Review
Much effort seems to have gone into The Quest; it looks rather good with decent cinematography and a fair amount of production design with period detail. The whole movie feels well-intentioned, attempting to tell a sort of rags-to-riches story of a pickpocket who ends up getting on a pirate ship. After years of honing his martial arts skills, he ends up in an international tournament. Not too bad, but about as paper thin as you can get.
The acting is through and through terrible. I had to check if the movie was not originally shot in a language other than English because everyone (except for maybe Roger Moore), speaks in such a stilted manner that I thought I was watching a poorly dubbed version. I know this is par for the course for Van Damme, but absolutely everyone seems to have forgotten how to speak in any believable manner. Without any believable acting, it is hard to care for anyone. Of course, it could also be that the dialogue was not good in the first place. So that does not help matters. The characters themselves are about as thinly developed as they can get. This can work fine in this kind of movie, but it makes the story entirely predictable. Is there any question that the main character will turn into a good-willed badass at the end? For a moment, I did think that maybe if the movie were in a language other than English, it would be better. However, even watching it in another language, it was difficult to imagine myself caring about anything in this movie.
The movie also has something of an odd and obvious framing device that practically spoils the movie right before it starts. It is incredibly pointless, although it does add a certain aspect of legend to the story. However, surely, there could have been other ways of doing the same. The movie is already predictable enough, no need to exacerbate it.
The Quest just isn’t a good movie. It is made with good spirits, attempting to create a pulpy martial arts story, and setting it in the 1920s provides it with a rich production design that makes it feel all the more like a legend. However, the story and character development are almost absent, and paired with terrible acting; we are left with a very mediocre movie that’s just not worth anyone’s time. What’s worse is that maybe it could be an entertaining bad movie, and it just isn’t. It is so concerned with looking nice that it forgets to have any real display of exciting martial arts, or to live up to its pulpy intentions. It is a bore. A tolerable one, but still a bore. If this was a quest for making a decent film, they really should’ve kept looking and not settled for this. Readers, take heed of the headline; this is a movie that will leave you thinking you should not have joined the quest in the first place.