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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a cool little film
Tsui Hark is one of the most prolific directors in HK cinema history, and has churned out films like Seven Swords, Zu Warriors, the Once Upon A Time in China trilogy, Ashes of Time, and Peking Opera Blues. He's in top form in this movie, which is loosely based on a true story of an exiled detective who solves a series of murders that threaten to delay an Empress'...
Published on January 11, 2011 by Lin707

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok as an action-mystery film, but not Judge Dee
If you're a fan of Van Gulik's Judge Dee series and think this is going to be like them, put that out of your mind right now. It's pretty good as a wuxia mystery, but it has none of the sophistication of the books. For a good book-to-film translation, try and find Judge Dee and the Monastery Murders (taken from The Haunted Monastery).
Published on August 7, 2011 by T. Sipes


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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a cool little film, January 11, 2011
Tsui Hark is one of the most prolific directors in HK cinema history, and has churned out films like Seven Swords, Zu Warriors, the Once Upon A Time in China trilogy, Ashes of Time, and Peking Opera Blues. He's in top form in this movie, which is loosely based on a true story of an exiled detective who solves a series of murders that threaten to delay an Empress' inauguration. This movie is quite an achievement in visuals, with a great script and acting. Well worth seeing. This DVD is equally good with a crystal clear picture, and excellent sound and English subtitles.
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38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very Kurasawa-esqe type mystery. Great story and acting. Good even a non-genre fan like me. I enjoyed it. I say B+, December 1, 2011
By 
Tony Heck (Belgrade, MT USA) - See all my reviews
"Men have weak points, just like weapons. They will also break when struck." Wu Zetian wants to become China's first Supreme Empress. While the stage and Buddah is being constructed for the inauguration strange things begin to happen. First Master Jia spontaneously com-busts, followed by more people bursting into flames. The empress wants this mystery solved before she takes over and there is only one person she can think of to solve it, Detective Dee (Lau) a prisoner in jail for treason. Can he put aside his feelings and solve the mystery of the phantom flame in time? This is not usually the type of genre I get into, but I did enjoy this movie. The tag-line says "Crouching Tiger meets Sherlock Holmes", it's hard to disagree with that statement. I will add that I think this is a type of modern Kurosawa film. The feel and the plot are something that he would do, and the ending very much reminds me of his style in the way that you aren't really sure if the ending is good or bad for those involved and makes you think. Overall, again this is not normally my type of movie but I did very much enjoy it. Good story and action. I give it a B+.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TSUI HARK, OPUS 37, November 29, 2011
By 
Daniel S. "Daniel" (Geneva, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
Tsui Hark is back, let the word be spread. Remember Robert Hans van Gulik's Judge Dee at Work: Eight Chinese Detective Stories (Judge Dee Mysteries) wonderful books ? DETECTIVE DEE is, if I'm not mistaken, the first full-length movie devoted to this character. If you like action movies, this one is clearly for you. Also note that the film was acclaimed by Positif as well as by Les Cahiers du Cinéma !! Masterpiece.
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41 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just Read This, December 19, 2011
This review is from: Detective Dee & The Mystery of the Phantom Flame [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I have to admit that I'm really getting tired of the proverbial 1 or 2 star ratings from people who, either have people over and talk during their movies, or work for a competing industry. This film is extremely entertaining and worth seeing for anybody who enjoys the assimilation of Kung-Fu and Sherlock Holmes...and who doesn't!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok as an action-mystery film, but not Judge Dee, August 7, 2011
If you're a fan of Van Gulik's Judge Dee series and think this is going to be like them, put that out of your mind right now. It's pretty good as a wuxia mystery, but it has none of the sophistication of the books. For a good book-to-film translation, try and find Judge Dee and the Monastery Murders (taken from The Haunted Monastery).
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 times better than Sherlock Holmes, January 11, 2011
I actually fell asleep during Sherlock Holmes. It was an incredibly boring, poorly scripted, poorly acted movie. And it probably had ten times the budget of this fun little film. If Sherlock Holmes left you dissatisfied, definitely check this out. Ever since ASHES OF TIME, I've been a huge fan of Tsui Hark. He's done it all. Artsy films, dramas, and big budget films. This is the later, but it doesn't disappoint. The story is solid and will keep your interest for the full two hours. The martial arts and action is well done, the acting fantastic, and the sets are gorgeous. This DVD is great, and the picture looked fantastic on my 60 inch HDTV.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You need a bigger screen!, October 3, 2011
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Non-spoiler review.

I thought I goofed when I noticed, after ordering, that this CineAsia Blu-Ray disc was listed for region B/2 - it shouldn't work in North America . . . but it did! Content providers don't have to actually implement the region coding, and it looks like CineAsia is one that left this version region free. Bravo. Note that the dialog is ONLY in Chinese with subtitles (English for me).

This is Tsui Hark in top notch form. The Vietnamese born Hong Kong film maker, when he is at his best as he is here, can out-Spielberg Spielberg. Detective Dee is a rollicking adventure of Kung Fu and cgi eye candy. The main characters of Detective Dee, the Empress, Donglai, and Jing'er (I LOVE those names) are well cast and well played. This is loud, brash, Raiders-of-the-lost-arkish movie fun played by actors at their best. The numerous trailers online should give you a good idea where this movie is coming from and going. Some Hark movies have too much action in my opinion (e.g., Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain) and not enough plot. This has a nice mix of both. The plot moves the action along quite nicely, thank you.

The Blu-Ray cut underscores something I've discovered about all of Hark's films: you always need a bigger screen. I own a 40 inch HDTV, but I wanted a larger one for this movie. Hark's films, much like Akira Kurosawa's, are designed for the largest possible screen. Living in St. Louis I'm not expecting a limited theater run for this movie such as is happening in LA and New York. If you're well heeled enough to own a Sony Bravia XBR KDL-70XBR7 70-Inch 1080p 120Hz LCD HDTV (a little over $22,000 as of this writing!) you'll do fine. On my wimpy 40 inch HD TV I was still dazzled by the cinematography in this film, but I want to see this on a bigger screen! Nonetheless, this is blu-ray HD and sound (Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Mandarin Dolby Digital 2.0) at the highest level.

Bugs: I couldn't get most of the extras to work. Though the subtitles in the movie itself were flawless, when a special feature that didn't work was invoked I kept getting the "Not Support!!!" message. The best part of the extras that DID work were the 18 movie trailers supplied. There is almost 30 minutes of non-stop (booming deep American Voice) "In a time in China when a hero was needed . . ." type trailers. One was for Woochi the Demon Slayer for which I just placed an order. You see, it's about "A time in China when gods and demons stalked the earth . . ."

4 out of 5 stars because not all of the extras worked - will upgrade if it turns out I've got a sucky blu-ray player.

UPDATE 13 OCTOBER 2011 RE SPECIAL FEATURES: It turns out that a lot of the special features are in the PAL format which my (Magnavox) blu-ray player can't handle. Bump up one star to five because this really is just a super cool movie.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good movie; Questionable DVD, January 9, 2011
The DVD I was sent is an obvious bootleg with blurry artwork, an insert that doesn't fit into the case, and a weird cardboard case surrounding it. The disc was loose upon receipt, and the case was cracked. Picture quality wasn't up to snuff. The movie looked interesting but I couldn't finish watching it. I have a 60 inch TV and I guess I've been spoiled by good DVD releases recently.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars got a bootleg DVD, February 13, 2011
Well one reviewer said they got a bootleg, another one didn't. I got a bootleg. There must be multiple versions being sold on this listing. I wouldn't take the chance. As of writing this, there are 6 or 7 sellers selling this. The official DVD is put out by VICOL ENTERTAINMENT and has both dts and Dolby audio tracks. I suggest ASKING the seller to confirm their DVD has the VICOL ENTERTAINMENT logo on it prior to ordering. There are two other versions on Amazon with a different reddish cover. That one is the official VICOL version, but there is a third VICOL release with a blue cover also as pictured on this auction. I would just ask the seller to make sure the product they are selling has the VICOL logo on the art in SHARP lettering. If you get it and the text or logos are blurry, it is probably a bootleg. What a headache to go through this....
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars HK movie, March 30, 2011
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Good movie and very good for the price. Andy Lau does his usual excellent job of course, seems he can't do otherwise. Tsui Hark has not been so reliable over his many years but is in his best form for this one and has put together a very smooth, visually busy and stimulating movie. There's wirework but of an exceptional quality, there are cool characters that are very well played and it really is a mystery film that probably moves along a little too quickly and sumptuously for you to solve the mystery but all the clues are there. If you're a martial art movie fan and you're enjoying their revival you can only like this movie.
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Detective Dee & The Mystery of the Phantom Flame [Blu-ray]
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