REVIEW: ‘The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure’ is Lighthearted Goofy Fun

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The Pirates The Last Royal Treasure - But Why Tho

It’s been a while since we’ve gotten a good swashbuckling pirates film in North America (Aardman’s The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! probably being the last good one), so we have to thank South Korea and Netflix for providing us with The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure (a spiritual sequel to 2014’s Pirates), an adventure film that provides a nice amount of fun even though it’s too wacky for its own good.

Woo Moo-chi (Kang Ha-neul) is the brash leader of a group of bandits who unwillingly joins forces with smart Captain Hae-rang (Han Hyo-joo) and her crew of pirates to seek a long-lost ship full of Goryeo treasure. But they are not alone, as rebel Heung-soo (Kwon Sang-woo) and his heinous crew are hot on our heroes’ tails looking to get all the gold for themselves. 

The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure leans heavily into the comedy genre so if you find it difficult to connect with the humor early on, odds are that you’ll want to walk the board after the first half-hour because the film has an abundant number of slapstick gags waiting on deck for you. The main characters of this film are a bunch of goofs and the cast were clearly having a lot of fun playing them. Most of the jokes are a result of the clash of personalities between the cocky Hae-rang and the serious Moo-chi, but other supporting characters join in on the irreverence. Unfortunately, some of them can be very annoying and the effectiveness of their bits is hit or miss.

It’s admirable how high director Kim Jeong-hoon aims given the short budget of the project. There are thunderstorms, underwater diving scenes, explosions, giant waves, herds of digital animals running around, and pooping penguins. The always sketchy CGI makes all of these moments look utterly fake. However, they all have charm and oddly fit into the exaggerated vibe of the movie. 

The screenplay is quite formulaic and constantly resorts to deus ex machina to save the heroes. You will have no trouble predicting where the relationships go and won’t be impressed by the poor motivations of many characters, including the villains. Additionally, the writing doesn’t do any favors to Oh Se-hun, whose arc is as bland as it gets; it’s clear that the writers didn’t even try to make him anything other than eye-candy.

However, the film overcomes both narrative and technical obstacles thanks to the action scenes and the total commitment of the cast. Han Hyo-joo is the undisputed highlight of The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure: she’s a badass who exudes charisma; her position as leader is never in question given her total command of the screen. In this tricky role, Hyo-joon has to balance the bravery and tenacity of her character with the comedy vibes of her fellow cast while giving small hints of Hae-rang’s burgeoning crush for Woo Moo-chi.

And despite the bad CGI, some choppy editing, and an inconsistent original score that tends to miss the mark, the action scenes are remarkable, particularly those involving swords. Watching people running and jumping around a boat while swinging a sword never gets boring thanks to the splendid choreographies and Kang Ha-neul’s energy. The creative production and set design fit the mood of the film, adding a layer of immersion to the action.

The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure is a swashbuckling good time that overcomes its flaws thanks to its charm as well as Han Hyo-joo’s magnetic performance. This is an adventure film that embraces and exaggerates the genre’s tropes to provide absurd entertainment to keep you busy for a couple of hours. 

The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure is now available on Netflix.


The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure
  • 6/10
    Rating - 6/10
6/10

TL;DR

The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure is a swashbuckling good time that overcomes its flaws thanks to its charm as well as Han Hyo-joo’s magnetic performance. This is an adventure film that embraces and exaggerates the genre’s tropes to provide absurd entertainment to keep you busy for a couple of hours.