In order to appreciate parodies one has to be familiar with what is being parodied. Unfortunately I am not a connoisseur of Hog Kong Kung Fu movies, so I wasn’t sure what I should have been looking out for, while watching “Tracing Shadows“. I recognized that some of the names and faces were reminiscent of famous actors in the genre, such as Jet Chu (for Jet Li) and Jackie Tang (for Jackie Chan).
As IMDB doesn’t have a summary and I didn’t find an English one online I feel inclined to provide one for you. The plot centers around a map that shows the way to a hidden treasure. At the beginning of the story there is a martial artist master who opted out from fighting and decided to play music instead. If I am not mistaken his instrument is the shamisen. He falls in love at first sight with a woman who also plays an instrument during the day, but during the night she is looking for this map that disappeared. She is not the only one: three other men are hoping to uncover it. They even settle in the village where it got lost in the hope it would reappear there.
Five years later all of these people–including the first two I mentioned who are married now and have a teenage adopted girl– live in the same village, in poverty, faking trades (innkeeper, tailor, monk, masseuse) they know nothing about it. They all owe rent to the local landlord, who is longing for the innkeeper’s wife. The local feudal lord–who has the map but doesn’t know what to do with it–has his heart set on the adopted daughter. Through various machinations most of these people end up going to the caves to find the treasure, along with the leaders of an invading (Mongolian?) minuscule army. If you think this was confusing you should have seen the movie itself. The holes in its plot are much larger than potholes. This doesn’t take away from fun of watching the fighting scenes or the otherwise visually interesting shots.
To top it of you even get a message of sort of. First, it seems to suggest that the real treasure of a person is the personal values s/he holds. But then it replaces this idea with a physical, yet symbolic, object. The truly real treasure is the tool you can make your fortune with if you work hard. I enjoyed lots of individual shots and actions in the movie, but as a whole it lacked coherence.
IMDB has no summary.