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Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame(狄仁傑之通天帝國)

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China, Hong Kong · 2010
Rated PG-13 · 1h 59m
Director Tsui Hark
Starring Andy Lau, Li Bingbing, Deng Chao, Tony Leung Ka-Fai
Genre Action, Adventure, Drama, Mystery

An exiled detective is recruited to solve a series of mysterious deaths that threaten to delay the inauguration of Empress Wu.

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What are critics saying?


The Hollywood Reporter by

Although it lacks the historical aura of classic Chinese wuxia backdrops, James Chiu's post-"Avatar" production design is memorably imaginative.


IndieWire by Eric Kohn

While there's a casual dissonance to each twist in its winding plot that results in a disconnected and emotionally vapid experience, Detective Dee unquestionably achieves the escapism it intends.


Village Voice by J. Hoberman

Magnificent and cheesy, the latest and most proudly absurd of Chinese historical spectaculars, Detective Dee is a cinematic comic book for people who are sick of the mode.


Variety by Justin Chang

An inventive marriage of ancient China and Agatha Christie, Detective Dee and the Mystery of Phantom Flame is a lavishly overwrought historical whodunit.


Time Out by Keith Uhlich

As the Sherlock Holmes of the second Zhou Dynasty, Lau is so effortlessly appealing that he manages to anchor the fatigue-heavy proceedings, even when his character has to outrun both the rays of the sun - don't ask - and a collapsing statue while crawling over and under a pack of stampeding horses. Now that's star power.


Time by Richard Corliss

The movie is not just spectacle; it's got a tender, ultimately tragic love story and enough deadly political scheming to fill a Gaddafi playbook. Indeed, in its narrative cunning, luscious production design and martial-arts balletics, Detective Dee is up there with the first great kung-fu art film, King Hu's 1969 "A Touch of Zen." We'd call it "Crouching Tiger, Freakin' Masterpiece."


Slant Magazine by Simon Abrams

Hark's new film is a consummately bizarre crowd-pleaser that throws everything at the viewer from makeshift plastic surgery by acupuncture to death by spontaneous combustion.


Movieline by Stephanie Zacharek

I've seen Detective Dee twice now, and I still don't think I've taken the full measure of the visual nuttiness, and lushness, Tsui has packed in there.

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