Contributed By Josephine Lee
With a lineup starring Chinese A-listers Andy Lau, Li Bing Bing, Carina Lau and Tony Leung Ka Fai; as well as Tsui Hark (Once Upon A Time In China film series) behind the camera, Detective Dee looks set to be an exciting detective film à la Sherlock Holmes. With compelling performances from the actors and an easy-to-follow plot, Detective Dee aims to please the crowd.
|PHOTO COURTESY OF SCORPIO EAST PICTURES|
Set in A.D. 690 during the Tang Dynasty, the story unfolds outside the Imperial Palace in Luoyang where a giant Buddhist stupa pagoda is under construction. On the date of its completion, China’s first female Emperor, Wu Zetian (Carina Lau), will formally ascend the throne.
However, a series of unexplained and mysterious incidents, in which a few of her subjects spontaneously combust in public, is threatening her rise to power. Exasperated, she summons the witty and perceptive detective Di Renjie (Andy Lau) whom she believes is the only one with both the intellect and martial art skill to uncover the conspiracy against her.
Detective Dee is delightfully funny (a magical talking donkey appears from out of nowhere), with Andy Lau delivering one of his most impressive and charismatic performances of late. Some of the CGI effects, however, are unconvincing and come across ill-suited for a play loosely based on medieval Chinese history. Although the film failed to win the Golden Lion which it was nominated for at the 67th Venice Film Festival, Detective Dee is an entertaining watch. The themes of power, loyalty, and palace intrigue unfold in a suitably well-paced and developed narrative, leaving the audience at the edge of their seats until the very end.