Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame

Rated PG-13 123 minutes 2010

China, 689 CE. High officials of the court of Empress Wu (Carina Lau) are spontaneously bursting into flame, and it’s up to disgraced former prisoner Dee Renjie (Andy Lau) to solve the mystery before the imperial coronation. So he has to deal with a talking deer, fire turtles, a magic mace, a transsexual assistant named Jing’er (Li Bingbing), lotsa fire, and enough CGI to redecorate the entire Middle Kingdom. Veteran Hong Kong filmmaker Tsui Hark (A Better Tomorrow, Once Upon a Time in China) returns to a semblance of his old form with this expensive-looking China/HK FX-mobile, but the huge budget fails to hide a certain poverty of imagination. Even Sammo Hung’s fight choreography looks flaccid. Aside from the title heroic medieval gumshoe, the only really interesting character is the pale, blond-haired Supreme Court skeptic played by actor Chao Deng. The ultimately tiresome spectacle was written by Chang Chia-lu and produced and directed for Huayi Bros. by Tsui. (119 min.)

Film Credits

Director: Tsui Hark

Producer: Peggy Lee, Nansun Shi and Hark Tsui

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

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Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame

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