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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame by Hark Tsui, 2010 (PG-13)

Original Title: Di Renjie / Detective D

with Andy Lau, Bingbing Li, Carina Lau, Chao Deng, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Richard Ng, Teddy Robin Kwan, Lu Yao, Jinshan Liu, Jean-Michel Casanova

When unexplained spontaneous combustions kill a pair of dignitaries in 7th-century China, the nation's first female emperor, Wu Zetian calls upon the trusted Detective Dee to solve the mystery in this stylish action epic.

This movie was comparing itself to "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", hum... The story is good, no doubt, the action is well choreographed, the landscapes and decors impeccable but my goodness, the acting... I wouldn't say Dee and the girl are bad actors, but the rest is like watching a children series on bad tv, the Spaniard is speaking as if he was a bad translator, the old people need to be so wisely outspoken it is risible, stereotypes of characters with little subtlety, moments with the voice of narration that feels completely overdone, conversation that almost go such as "I really love this house" to "Yes, the weather is nice", so at that point, you just make jokes of the rest of the film. Sad, because it is actually based on a Chinese tradition that would deserve much more respect...

Watch Trailer:


  1. Detective Dee does seem to get a lot of praise.However I am not sure if it compares itself to Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon.I personally don't think Crouching Tiger...was that special.It was a good movie and it did introduce the wuxia genre to a lot of new viewers.To me it was nothing new.Back to Dee.Well,I myself liked the story as most people would.Compared to previous Tsui Hark movies it is more plot driven as usual.But overall I thought it was a very tame Tsui Hark.It doesn't compare to his masterpieces like Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain or a Chinese Ghost Story.The acting sadly has always been similar.Since Tsui focuses on the action and the visuals although there have been stand out performances like the one from Leslie Cheung in A Chinese Ghost Story (1987)and the sequel.

  2. Thanks Chrichton for this amazing review. The truth is my mum was reading the books and thought to buy that movie, so it is by chance that I came across it, specially because she is not into movies at all. She preferred it to the book actually. I am not at all specialist in Chinese cinema and I am glad you suggested other movies he made, I will definitely check it out! Thanks again!