In 1979 gigantic fossils of unknown creatures are found in the mountains near the Mongolian border. The Chinese government organizes an expedition led by professor Yang to excavate the fossils. One of its members, the young soldier Hu Bayi, is in love with Ping, the beautiful daughter and assistant of the professor. After an explosion collapses a part of the tunnels, Yang asks for volunteers to accompany him and Ping to search for another passage. Hu and some others volunteer and a small group sets of for a dangerous journey through a treacherous subterranean labyrinth. After they are almost decimated by a group of lethal fire bats, the survivors fall into a bottomless chasm. To their astonishment, they awake alive and well at the bottom. While looking for a way out, they stumble upon a mysterious temple. And it seems that the professor was looking for that all along.

After four acclaimed arthouse movies, director Lu Chuan (The Last Supper) makes a successful transition to the realm of special effects driven blockbusters. He succeeds in perfectly capturing an atmosphere of wonder, mystery and intrigue. It’s as if you’re looking at a Chinese version of Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth with a good dash of H.P Lovecraft. Humor, romance, spectacle and astounding sfx; Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe can rival with the best of Hollywood.

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