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Thread: Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame

  1. #1
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    Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame

    i may have mentioned this, infact i know i have but either it was a part of another thread or i just suck at searching. anyway tsui hark is directing my favorite chinese detective judge Dee.
    Detective Dee Investigates Mysterious Deaths in Tsui Hark's Upcoming Film

    -- Detective Dee --

    Tsui Hark will direct period martial arts suspense thriller Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame in Hong Kong, Beijing, Hangzhou and Henan beginning in May 2009, with proposed release in summer 2010.

    With a $13 million budget, a script by Chen Kuofu and production by Chen Kuofu, Tsui Hark's wife and partner Nansun Shi and Peggy Lee, Tsui Hark and Huayi Brothers will bring to life an imagined case solved by a real Tang Dynasty detective Di Ren Jie, to be played by Andy Lau.

    When the mysterious deaths of a series of loyal subjects threaten to delay the 690 A.D. inauguration of Empress Wu Zetian, China's only female leader, she summons the infamous Detective Dee back from an exile into which she cast him eight years earlier.

    "They had such an interesting relationship of hatred, love and passion," said Tsui Hark, who is focused on finding the perfect empress to play opposite Andy Lau. "She was the sole one, the first and last empress in China, who claimed to be very iron-fisted, using all these cruel methods in handling her politics. At the same time she was very smart, using all the intelligent people she selected for her cabinet."

    Detective Dee accepts the challenge and partners with gung-ho Commander Bei and the Ghost Doctor, a master of disguise, to solve the crimes. Tsui Hark has not yet chosen actors to play the rest of the historical figures. The Hollywood Reporter

    now tsui hark is not my favorite director, in fact he is waaaaaaay down on the list and maybe even on the top ten of my least favorite. but if he stays within his realm, and doesnt go to far and to over the top, this film could be amazing.

  2. #2
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    I'm interested in this

    I saw the TV movie Judge Dee and the Monastery Murders years ago and really liked it -- some great performances by Mako and James Hong, and it was a very interesting story to boot, with lots of Sherlock Holmes-esque clever observations and deductions by Dee, who was also rather humorous.

    I later read Gulik's translations of a couple Chinese Judge Dee stories but never got around to checking out his original writings. At any rate, I am hoping he does a decent job with this.
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    casting updates courtesy of wu-jing.org

    -- Detective Dee --
    Apart from Andy Lau who has long been attached to this production, Carina Lau, Li Bing Bing, Tony Leung Kar Fai, Lau Ching Wan are also joining Detective Dee directed by Tsui Hark.

    Andy Lau plays the eponymous magistrate Di Ren Jie who's tasked by Empress Wu Zetian to look into a series of enigmatic deaths of court officials in this period suspense mystery set in Tang dynasty.

    Carina Lau would play Empress Wu Zetian, and she has to take up lessons on horse-riding and court etiquette in preparation for the role, "The director requests that I learn court etiquette, but I'm not sure where I can learn those things. I'm looking for a relevant teacher, to better understand the way of life of the ancient people. It's pretty interesting."

    Li Bing Bing would be play Shangguang Wan-er, Wu Zetian's maid and right-hand 'man' who is proficient in martial arts.

    While Tsui Hark hopes to name the film's Chinese title 《通天帝国》 Kingdom to Heaven, it is getting nowhere with Mainland censors. Tsui Hark indicates that he is especially curious about themes of detective and Tang dynasty, and hopes that by putting the two together, would create a special story for the audience.

    The film's producer Shi Nan Sun denies rumours of the creative genius Tsui Hark being at the end of his tether, "I've worked with many different directors, but Tsui Hark is one director you've to spend extensive time on pre-production, for he often demands novelty. Most directors just do what they are good at, accustomed to, so they always have relevant resources at their fingertips. But Tsui Hark is an exception to the rule. If you watch his films ten years down the road, you'd realise that many of his films are classics. Even this story of Detective Dee, it may sound like a historical subject, but it actually contains many novel ideas. Di Ren Jie is a super sleuth of Tang Dynasty, have you watched a movie on an ancient super sleuth?" Oriental Daily

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    Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame

    We ran an article on Judge Dee back in our 2002 July/August issue: Judge Dee
    Tang Dynasty Detective in Martial Arts Novels for 600 Years
    By Michael R. Little

    Andy Lau, Li Bingbing engaged in war of wits
    Xin.sg - Saturday, May 9

    After six months of preparation, Tsui Hark is finally ready to start filming Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame in Hengdian. This will also mark the third time that Andy Lau is acting with Chinese actress Li Bingbing. The shoot is estimated to take about four months and should wrap up in September.

    After the movies Cat and Mouse and A World without Thieves, Lau and Li are cooperating for the third time in the new period martial arts suspense thriller. Li laughed and said that this is also the third time that they are fighting on reel. Lau roped in Deng Chao and said, "This time the three of us will be working together to solve a case, so we are comparing our wits instead of fighting skills."

    The cast, martial arts director Sammo Hung, producer Chen Kuofu and the head of production company Huayi Brothers were at one of the important sets to pray for a safe and smooth filming session.

    In previous movie versions of Detective Dee, the actors chosen to take on the character of the detective were rather stocky. This time round, Lau was chosen for the role from a list which included Tony Leung and Leung Ka-Fai.

    Tsui said, "Who says Detective Dee has to be a fat and old person? Why can't he have the looks and the wit?"

    Li will take the role as Shangguan Wan'er, the only female chief minister who is talented in both literary and martial arts.

    Carina Lau and Leung Ka-fai were unable to attend the prayer ceremony due to their work schedules.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips

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    Changed the title from 'judge dee movie' to...

    ....Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame

    Chinese film "Detective Dee" among Golden Lion candidates
    English.news.cn 2010-07-31 10:42:07 FeedbackPrintRSS

    BEIJING, July 31 (Xinhuanet) --Tsui Hark's martial-arts thriller "Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame" will be the only Chinese-language film to compete for the top honor at this year's Venice International Film Festival, organizers have announced.

    "Detective Dee" is a fictional account of Di Renjie, a legendary detective and official living in the Tang Dynasty of ancient China who was sometimes compared to Sherlock Holmes.

    Andy Lau plays the detective, supported by Carina Lau, Li Bingbing, Tony Leung Ka-Fai and Deng Chao.

    The film will compete for the Golden Lion with 21 other features that include Ascanio Celestini's "La Pecora Nera", Antony Cordier's "Happy Few" and Darren Aronofsky's "Black Swan".

    "Black Swan", starring Natalie Portman, will open the festival on September 1 along with the Chinese action film "Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen", which will be screened out of competition.

    An international jury led by American filmmaker Quentin Tarantino will decide winners for the Golden Lion awards.

    Chinese director John Woo, the mastermind behind such films as "Face/Off", "Windtalkers" and "Mission: Impossible II", will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.

    The 67th Venice International Film Festival will close on September 11 with the screening of Julie Taymor's adaptation of the mystical Shakespeare play, "The Tempest".
    Inception to compete with Chinese blockbusters this September
    * Source: Global Times
    * [23:06 August 02 2010]

    After its third weekend of screening in North America, the sci-fi thriller Inception has succeeded in keeping its top spot at the box office, eclipsing all other contenders with $27.5 million, according to Xinhua reports on Monday.

    The only non-sequel blockbuster this summer, Inception, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan, is well on track to garner $193.3 million, projected statistics gathered from Canada and the US showed.

    Inception will open in the Chinese mainland on September 21, although facing tough competition with four domestic films scheduled for release.

    The Love of the Hawthorn Tree directed by internationally acclaimed Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou and featuring 19-year-old actress Zhou Dongyu, is set to hit cinemas on September 16. Based on a popular novel of the same name, the movie tells a poignant love story set in the 1970s.

    The film also marks Zhang Yimou's comeback to the art-house genre after commercial attempts such as Curse of the Golden Flower and A Simple Noodle Story. Though facing fierce competition then with many commercial films screening at the same time, producer Zhang Weiping is confident that audiences will look forward to a romantic film such as The Love of the Hawthorn Tree.

    Andrew Lau's Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, will also open on September 21. Tsui Hark's suspense thriller Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame will be released on September 29, a day after John Woo's latest work Reign of Assassins. Detective Dee will be the only Chinese-language film competing at this year's Venice International Film Festival from September 1 to 11. The film will be up for the Golden Lion with 21 other features including Ascanio Celestini's La Pecora Nera, Antony Cordier's Happy Few and Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan.

    Detective Dee is a fictional account of Di Renjie, the legendary Tang Dynasty (618-907) detective. Andy Lau plays the detective, supported by Carina Lau, Li Bingbing, Tony Leung Ka-Fai and Deng Chao.
    Got that?
    Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen = September 21
    Reign of Assassins = September 28
    Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame = September 29
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips

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    Trailers!

    Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame
    Posted by Ryan Adams On August - 8 - 2010

    Tsui Hark, who produced John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow and directed Once Upon a Time in China is back in audacious epic form with Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame, premiering at the Venice Film Festival next month.

    In Tsui Hark’s latest lavish epic wuxia/mystery choreographed by Sammo Hung, starring Andy Lau, Carina Lau, Tony Leung Kar Fai, Li Bing Bing, etc, Di Renjie, who is in exile, is summoned back to the court to investigate a series of mysterious murders that threatens the coronation of Empress Wu Zetian.

    Trailer 2 after the cut is even more gloriously berserk and a full minute longer, but doesn’t have English subtitles. Honestly though: “To solve this murder case, we need to seek help in the Phantom Mart.” What else do you need to know?
    Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phamtom Flame (2010) Trailer

    Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (2010) Trailer 2

    Tsui Hark created the Fant-Asia genre back in the early '90s. This looks like a return to form. Choreographed by Sammo? oh yeah...

    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips

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    tsui hark might make me a fan with this one...havent been a fan of his ever really. but he might do it with this one.

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    Chollywhood kicks ass in Venice

    Now I see why the three films above are dropping now. It's all about Venice.
    Period king fu film "Detective Dee"has modern feel
    By Deborah Young
    Thu Sep 16, 2010 4:55am EDT

    VENICE (Hollywood Reporter) - Tsui Hark's spectacular, much-awaited kung fu film "Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame," shot in China for a reported $13 million, is an appealing combo of classic Chinese martial arts and mystery unraveling wedded to modern production design and CGI work. It will have special appeal for young video gamers and wuxia fans when it is released in China this month.

    But despite the director's credentials and its important cast, it looked like a fish out of water in competition at the recently completed Venice Film Festival, though a genre film raised to this high level of fantasy arguably can put up an artistic fight. Still, a little character development and an adult emotion or two crammed between jaw-dropping set pieces would have been appreciated. Tsui's last film, "Seven Swords," screened at Venice in 2005.

    The character of Detective Dee is based on a real imperial court judge, Di Renjie, who lived during the Tang dynasty circa 690 A.D. Flash forward to the 1950s, when Dutch diplomat Robert Van Gulik wrote a series of detective novels that popularized Dee in the West as an Asian version of Sherlock Holmes. The film's teenage title could have been (though it isn't) the title of one of Van Gulik's 24 books.

    As the story begins, Judge Dee (played by the youthful Andy Lau) has been thrown into prison by the emperor's widow, Wu Zetian (a Machiavellian Carina Lau), who is about to be crowned China's first empress. The historic ceremony is to take place in the shadow of a giant Buddha statue, a marvel of architecture that is 200 feet high and still under construction.

    A visiting dignitary from abroad is given a guided tour inside the immense statue by one of the chief engineers. Its towering interior is dominated by a tall, treelike core, criss-crossed by bridges and movable mechanical parts. When the engineer and his visitor reach the Buddha's enormous eyes, a horrifying event occurs: the engineer, struck by sunlight, bursts into flames and is burned alive from the inside out.

    The terrified workforce blames an ancient curse, and word is sent to the Empress that divine wrath is upon her coronation. Then the messenger himself meets the same fiery end, as he is riding to the imperial court.

    At this point, Wu makes the smart move of pardoning Dee, the only man who can unravel the mystery. She sends her favorite, the beautiful martial arts expert Jing'er (Li Bingbing), to drag him out of an infernal prison where he has labored for eight long years, burning citizens' petitions in a huge incinerator.

    Reinstated as a judge, he immediately sets to work puzzling out the strange deaths. He concludes that they're not supernatural at all, but part of an elaborate plot to overthrow the future Empress. With Jing'er and cruel young judicial officer Pei Donglai (Deng Chao), who have become his uneasy allies, Dee goes below the earth to visit the Black City, another imaginative set designed as a dark, watery nightmare kingdom. Waylaying an eccentric old hermit named Wang the Donkey, they seek information on the fearful Fire Turtles, scarab beetles that inject poison into the body that causes it to burn up as soon as it comes into contact with sunlight.

    With one part of the mystery solved, Dee now must discover whodunnit. Leaping over underground lakes, Dee, Jing'er and Donglai have their first exciting fight with the Imperial Chaplain, a flying red figure with magical powers.

    The atmosphere of mystery, magic and danger continues at a gallop in the final two action sequences, one set in the Monastery of the Infinite, where Dee defies the Empress' orders and confronts the Imperial Chaplain; the other inside the Buddha statue in a breathtaking climax where fight choreographer Sammo Hung pulls out the stops on aerial wire work and special effects.

    In star Lau's youthful incarnation, Dee is noble, fearless and delightfully smart and observant, but nowhere does he become a human character with more than theoretical feelings and emotions. The lovely Jing'er and cruel Donglai are so young and ferocious they seem like fighting machines out of a video game, with the result that their fate is not very compelling. Although it lacks the historical aura of classic Chinese wuxia backdrops, James Chiu's post-"Avatar" production design is memorably imaginative.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips

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    im hoping this film will be good, i loved all the judge dee novels, i wouldnt even have heard of them if it wasnt for kfm...so i hope this movie turns out well...i love tsui harks dedication to the art of filmmaking, he really tries to put china up to standards in terms of current technology. he is actually the only filmmaker thats in that genre who will not settle for cheesy effects...however as a director he is hot and cold...sometimes brilliant sometimes an amateur and all in the same movie. but from trailer it looks enjoyable..we shall see.

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    Quote Originally Posted by doug maverick View Post
    im hoping this film will be good, i loved all the judge dee novels, i wouldnt even have heard of them if it wasnt for kfm...so i hope this movie turns out well...i love tsui harks dedication to the art of filmmaking, he really tries to put china up to standards in terms of current technology. he is actually the only filmmaker thats in that genre who will not settle for cheesy effects...however as a director he is hot and cold...sometimes brilliant sometimes an amateur and all in the same movie. but from trailer it looks enjoyable..we shall see.
    I've heard good reviews from westerners who have seen it and are well acquanted with Asian culture, history, and philosophy. On the flip side, I have read bad reviews by westerners with no knowledge of the subject. Take this for instance:

    http://www.movieline.com/2010/09/pos...ective-dee.php

    They admit that they gave up reading the subtitles in favor of watching the pretty pictures. By far, one of the worst reviews I have ever read.
    Last edited by ghostexorcist; 09-16-2010 at 01:49 PM.

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    Beijing premiere

    "Detective Dee" gets Asian premiere
    English.news.cn 2010-09-21 08:13:45

    BEIJING, Sept. 21 (Xinhuanet) -- Director Tsui Hark led the entire cast of his film, "Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame", to attend its Asian premiere in Beijing on Sunday, September 19, 2010.

    The film premiered at the 67th Venice Film Festival earlier in the month where it competed for the top prize, the Golden Lion. Though he came back to China empty-handed, Tsui is now focusing on promoting the film's domestic release on September 29.

    The movie is a fictional account of the legend of Tang dynasty detective Di Renjie, who is summoned by Empress Wu Zetian to investigate a series of mysterious deaths.

    Andy Lau plays Detective Dee, with Carina Lau as Wu Zetian. Li Bingbing, Tony Leung Ka-Fai and Deng Chao also appear in the movie.
    There's 7 pics if you follow the link. Here's the cast pic.

    Director Tsui Hark (third from right) promotes the film "Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame" with cast members (from left) Deng Chao, Li Bingbing, Andy Lau, Carina Lau and Tony Leung Ka-Fai in Beijing on Sunday, September 19, 2010. (Photo: CRIENGLISH.com)
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips

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    Dee opens

    On the heels of Reign of Assassins.
    09-30-2010 15:35
    Big-budget 'wuxia' meets Agatha Christie
    By Lee Hyo-won

    With larger-than-life characters engaged in high-flying adventures in ancient China, “Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame” at first glance seems like yet another expensive, star-studded “wuxia” film.

    The latest offering by Tsui Hark, however, features only a dab of adrenaline-pumping “Reign of Assassins”-style martial arts sequences; it is interestingly a whodunit story in the tradition of Agatha Christie that relies more on eye-popping, computer graphics-rendered “crime” scenes (created by the Korean talent of Park Chan-wook’s “Thirst”) rather than wire action (though the minimal scenes are cleverly devised, by none other than star actor-cum-director Sammo Hung).

    The introduction of the detective element gives the conventional genre a new twist, and it works both ways depending on how you view it: a Sherlock Holmes type trotting around the exotic wonders of the Central Kingdom or wuxia heroes engaged in elaborate wire fu for reasons other else than revenge, romance or family honor.

    The $13-million project, featuring a very prominent cast and makers with impressive pedigrees, has undoubtedly upgraded a genre film to a striking degree of fantasy. This is perhaps why it was chosen to compete at the Venice Film Festival, but one can’t help in discerning why it didn’t pick up a Golden Bear with its lack of character development and emotional tension.

    Detective Dee is modeled after Di Renjie, a real imperial court judge who lived during the late-7th-century Tang Dynasty. During the 1950s, the historical figure became touted in the West as an Asian counterpart of Sherlock Holmes through a detective novel series by Robert Van Gulik.

    The silver-screen adaptation is not based on one of the Dutch writer’s works but could well have been. Andy Lau brings a youthful ebullience to Judge Dee, who has been imprisoned by the emperor’s widow, Wu Zetian (Carina Lau).

    Wu is about to become China’s first female ruler and a colossal Buddha statue is being erected in proximity of the palace for her grand coronation. A diplomat from the far West is given a tour inside the towering, 200-feet-high marvel of engineering genius. It’s one memorable opener, to take in the view of this ancient-era skyscraper of sorts, with a great column as a spine, moving mechanical parts and bridges and manual elevators crisscrossing the interior.

    When the entourage climbs up to the face, taking in a view of the city through Buddha’s eyes, however, the engineer suddenly burns alive from a fire that seems to have started inside his own body. The horrified onlookers blame his sacrilegious handling of shamanist tokens, and a messenger sets out to inform the empress-to-be about divine intervention. However, the messenger himself dies of the same “self-combustion.”

    Wu is given another supernatural calling to realize that the imprisoned Dee may be her only hope to solving the mystery. She sends her most trusted servant, the beautiful kung fu master Jing’er (Li Bingbing), to pardon him and release him from a miserable prison. His former title recuperated, Dee sets out to solve the puzzle, and is convinced that they are part of a complex intrigue to impede Wu’s future reign.

    Joined by a ruthless young officer Pei Donglai (Deng Chao), the duo makes their way to various corners of the empire including a sinister, underground water city, and come across oddball characters including a beetle-eating master of disguise and the flying red Imperial Chaplain.

    It must be said the production designs by James Chiu are imaginative, but it lacks the atmospheric grandeur of classic wuxia films. This quality reflects in the cartoonish storyline, but “Dee’s” strong fantasy appeal will nevertheless have video game addicts excited when it opens in local theaters on Oct. 7.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips

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    A few more reviews

    * OCTOBER 1, 2010
    A Chinese Detective Story
    By DEAN NAPOLITANO

    Director Tsui Hark's clever whodunit set in 7th-century China is a movie he couldn't have made when he first began exploring the idea more than two decades ago.

    "Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame" cost $15 million and makes wide use of computer graphics to create a bustling Chinese city centered on sprawling palace grounds and a giant Buddhist statue.

    The film stars Andy Lau as Dee Renjie, a Tang Dynasty-era judge investigating a series of grizzly palace murders during the rule of China's only female emperor, Empress Wu Zetia, played by Carina Lau.

    The story is fiction, but Dee Renjie was a real-life judge and political figure, born in 630 A.D. He has been the subject of many biographies and novels over the centuries, and Mr. Tsui—the director of such hits as 1991's "Once Upon a Time in China"— brings his trademark visual flair to the film. "Detective Dee" had its premiere last month at the Venice International Film Festival and opens in Asia this week.

    Could you have made this film 20 years ago?

    I don't think so. It would have had quite a different look, because it involves a certain degree of maturity of computer-graphic techniques. What we have now is a kind of grand-scale landscape and visual look and a very strong rich, romantic style.

    What attracted you to the character of Dee Renjie?

    I've been very fond of the material as a detective story, starting with a very interesting crime that creates an illusion for Judge Dee.

    How did you research the character?

    Years ago we didn't have enough access to information to understand this character. Then the Internet came in and we started browsing around to get material and information about him. As we understood more, we started to create this story about his life.

    The film depicts a strong contrast between the characters of the cerebral Judge Dee and tyrannical Empress Wu.

    According to history, Dee Renjie was quite an important influence on her. Empress Wu was very strong in her control of the government and used torture methods in order to eliminate the powers against her. When Dee Renjie became a minister, she gradually changed from this radical extreme.
    Thu, Sep 30, 2010
    Slick wuxia epic impresses
    By Yong Shu Hoong

    DETECTIVE DEE AND THE MYSTERY OF THE PHANTOM FLAME
    (PG) Action/123 minutes

    SEEING Tsui Hark's name attached to Detective Dee And The Mystery Of The Phantom Flame immediately evokes pleasant memories of the heyday of Hong Kong cinema during the 1980s and early 1990s.

    As a visionary director and producer, Tsui has been involved with fantasy and wuxia (martial-arts genre set in ancient China) classics like Zu Warriors From The Magic Mountain (1983), A Chinese Ghost Story (1987) and Swordsman (1990).

    He is well-known for combining humour with aesthetically pleasing action sequences, impressive sets and costumes and, sometimes, dazzling visual effects.

    So, after lacklustre collaborations with Jean-Claude Van Damme on Double Team (1997) and Knock Off (1998), as well as less-than-impressive recent films like Seven Swords (2005), can his latest directorial effort be hailed as a return to form? Partially, I would answer. At the very least, this film has enjoyed some hype competing for the Golden Lion Award at this year's Venice Film Festival.

    Also, you'll once again find awe-inspiring sets (check out the CGI reconstruction of the ancient capital of Luoyang) and period costumes (for example, the elaborate headgear worn by Empress Wu Zetian).

    After a string of mysterious deaths, where the victims are reduced to charred remains by spontaneous combustion, the Empress (Carina Lau) decides to seek the assistance of Detective Dee (Andy Lau) in investigations.

    Summoned back from exile, where he is serving time for opposing the Empress eight years ago, Dee is appointed Chief Judge to uncover what she assumes to be a conspiracy to sabotage her official ascension to the throne.

    To carry out his tasks, he is assigned two subordinates - the Empress's trusted maid, Jing (Li Bingbing), and an albino judicial officer, Bei (Deng Chao).

    Together, they try to piece together the clues and get to the truth behind the case.

    The concept of a Tang-dynasty detective, who is not only skilled in martial arts but who also uses scientific knowledge to explain fantastical happenings, is an interesting one.

    The fact that Dee is based on a historical figure makes him all the more intriguing. And I can already see him fronting a movie franchise that charts his further adventures - just as how Guy Ritchie revitalises Sherlock Holmes with a 2009 film and a planned sequel.

    While the character design here is memorable - from Dee's suave image to Empress Wu's imposing demeanour - and the dialogue is witty and regularly laced with humour, the exploration of the characters' relationships and inner conflicts is less successful.

    For example, it's harder for the audience to empathise with the feelings that inevitably develop between Dee and Jing, than to be engrossed in the complexities of the investigation, as well as the well-choreographed action and visual effects.

    It's all slick, entertaining and technically competent. But this would have been a more-rounded wuxia epic, if Tsui had emphasised the story's emotional core by dwelling more on the themes of romance, friendship and loyalty.
    I'm still eager to see this. I enjoyed Tsui Hark's work in the Fant-Asia genre. That genre is really dated now due to advances in CGI, but I'd enjoy seeing directors like Tsui Hark revitalize it.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips

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    Three strikes, you're out!

    Sorry, a little Giants fever there. But I do claim the first reviews for the Venice Chollywood triumvirate: Chen Zhen, Reign and now this. Yay me!

    I really enjoyed Dee. For me, it's the pick of the Venice litter, although Reign was excellent too. Chen Zhen went a superhero route, which totally worked for Dee but failed for me with Chen Zhen. But I must confess, I was a serious Tsui Hark fan for a spell. Those of us who remember the Fant-Asia wave of the '90s, this film revitalizes the genre. And it's from the King of Fant-Asia, Tsui Hark. Tsui did OUATICI & II, Swordsman, Chinese Ghost Story, Zu Warriors, and worked a lot with John Woo. We loved those movies but now their special effects are horribly dated. Well, Tsui just entered the CGI world big time with Dee. Dee is an old kung fu tale - imagine a medieval Sherlock Holmes that does kung fu and discredits magic (although only marginally - the over-the-top CGI is hard to explain scientifically). It's all very entertaining - like a comic book film with glaringly overdone heroes and villains, super saturated color schemes and a lot of flying about. The fight choreography was done by Sammo Hung, so it's also entertaining. It's high-fantasy wire work, with strange kung fu physics (kung fu physics are like Looney Tune physics - where Looney Tunes physics are all rubbery, kung fu has altered rules for momentum and gravity). There's no groundfighting - quite the opposite, the bulk of the fights are flying in the air. Like I said, think comic book, like Batman or even the new Sherlock Holmes. Most of all, it takes a few great unexpected turns, just like the old Fant-Asia story arcs used to. Long live Fant-Asia 2010!

    Tsui just signed Jet for a 3D Fant-Asia flick Dragon Inn. I'm looking forward to that a lot now. Dee would have been even better in 3D. It's just gloriously cheesey that way.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips

  15. #15
    Join Date
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    Indomina

    Detective Dee heads for N American release

    By Patrick Frater
    Tue, 09 November 2010, 11:48 AM (HKT)

    Indomina Releasing, a newish US distribution company with a taste for Asian films, has acquired North American rights to Detective Dee: The Mystery of the Phantom Flame (狄仁杰之通天帝國).

    The deal was struck with co-producer and sales agent Huayi Brothers Pictures (華誼兄弟影業投資有限公司), which fielded several bids. Eventually the deal was done with Indomina, the highest bidder, for a sum close to $500,000.

    Directed by Tsui Hark (徐克) and starring Andy Lau (劉德華), Li Bingbing (李冰冰) and Carina Lau (劉嘉玲), the film was the runaway winner at the Chinese box office over the lucrative October National Day holiday period.

    Official figures show it scoring RMB290 million ($43 million) to 31 Oct, though other sources suggest that problematic reporting by some exhibition circuits could put the figure significantly higher in the final tally.

    Indomina has recently acquired rights to Vietnamese thriller Clash (Bẫy rồng), Chinese titles Bodyguards And Assassins (十月圍城), Fire of Conscience (火龍), True Legend (蘇乞兒) and Australian films Griff The Invisible and Wasted on the Young.
    Dee, B&A and TL. Now the question is whether Indomina releases on DVD or theatrically.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips

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