Film Review: DETECTIVE DEE AND THE MYSTERY OF THE PHANTOM FLAME

Directed by Hark Tsui
Written by Kuo-fu Chen, Jialu Zhang
Starring; Carina Lau, Andy Lau, Bingbing Li, Tony Leung Ka-fai

On the eve of her coronation as the Chinese Empress, men under Empress Wu’s (Carina Lau) command and inside the newly constructed 66- story Buddha, have burst into flames, leaving behind only black ash and bones. Recognizing this as a threat to her coronation, Wu turns to the infamous Detective Dee (Andy Lau)m, a man she has imprisoned in the past but who has the skills and intellect to help her now. Also called upon is his friend and the architect of the new city, Shatuo (Sony Leung Ka-fai. Dee battles a series of strange and sudden dangers as he helps his Empress ascend her throne.

Detective Dee has elements of almost every genre including mystery, romance, martial arts, intrigue, humor, and the supernatural. You can’t expect to examine this film carefully and come away with a sensible plot. You either go along for the ride or don’t. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t. I found the constant movement, special effects, swirling colors and bodies, and the need to read subtitles beneath all this action, wearying. But I think the audience for this knows who they are. And even as an outsider, I could appreciate the effects, care, and craft that went into this film. If you think you will like this film, you will. If you don’t, you probably won’t. Recommended for fans of the martial arts.

Patti
Patti Abbott writes crime fiction short stories. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at http://www.pattinase.blogspot.com/ She hopes you’ll join in.