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4.1 out of 5 stars
Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon [Blu-ray]
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2014
Format: Blu-ray
A couple of years ago, I reviewed an excellent movie titled DETECTIVE DEE: MYSTERY OF THE PHANTOM FLAME. The review was lost when my blog crashed over a year ago, but my impression of the film still remains; it is an eye-popping masterpiece that dazzles and delights. Director Hark Tsui is back with a prequel to that film, and although Detective Dee is younger in this one, he does not fail to impress. Much like it’s predecessor, YOUNG DETECTIVE DEE: RISE OF THE SEA DRAGON is a fast-paced, action-filled masterpiece that entertains on several levels.

Because this is a prequel, the same actor could not portray Detective Dee. Andy Lau did an excellent job of bringing Dee to life in the first one, and actor Mark Chao continues this tradition with this film. Both men have unique traits and characteristics that help define the legendary inspector, and both do a great job in this role.

YOUNG DETECTIVE DEE: RISE OF THE SEA DRAGON is shot well and looks amazing onscreen. I don’t use this phrase much, but this film is literally a visual feast for the eyes. It uses a lot of CG, which is interwoven with the live-action almost flawlessly. This, therefore, allows for deeper immersion into the story and thus a more entertaining experience.

As with the previous film, the action in this one is intense, and the fight scenes are full of ‘wow’-inducing moves. The wire-work continues to impress, not to mention the fight choreography itself. You just basically can’t ask for better in a martial-arts film.

The storyline of YOUNG DETECTIVE DEE: RISE OF THE SEA DRAGON is also impressive. The narrative never drops off nor does it grow stale; the story moves at a nice pace and there are no dull moments or stalled dialogue. Whereas my sole complaint about the previous film was that it was a bit long, that is not the case here. This film is right where it needs to be in length and dazzles from start to finish.

YOUNG DETECTIVE DEE: RISE OF THE SEA DRAGON is a definite win for me, and I highly suggest you give it a look. It hits store shelves next week, so make a note to check it out.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2014
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
I already owned the blu-ray version of this film before purchasing it again from Amazon, as I read in the product description that this version as Cantonese as the language spoken. To my surprise, both audio tracks are in Mandarin. So if you're hoping for Cantonese, this probably is not the version for you. Subtitles are in English though.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
After seeing the first one, I hoped there would be more detective dee films and what a great job they did with this prequel. It made my day when I saw it was available to watch. Great acting, story and I love the fight scenes. I can't recommend this series of films enough. Great stuff. I hope they make another one.

p.s. Be sure to watch the credits, there are three little funny extras clips to finish off the film, lol
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2014
Format: Blu-ray
I have to admit what got me to watch this movie was the director's name. I grew up watching the golden age of movies in the 90s and Tsui Hark is just one of those directors in which I'm probably going to watch his movies regardless. His recent ones( Seven Swords, The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate) have been entertaining and so I expected this movie to be no less. I was not disappointed. Young Detective Dee is a prequel to Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame- but you really don't have to watch that one first. It connected but kinda isn't really so it's fine as a stand alone.
Mark Chao plays the brilliant Detective Dee in his earlier years before he becomes the polished, methodic version of himself in the first film. I was actually hesitant to watch this film at first because I was not familiar at all with Mark Chao's acting..and looking on Wikipedia... I haven't seen very many of his movies as he is still fairly new. He was decent as the main character and I really had to remind myself not to compare his interpretation with Andy Lau's because their acting styles are different. Mark Chao's portrayal of Detective Dee might have been what he would have been in his youth, but sometimes I found that he seemed kind of lost. I'm not sure if that was what he intended to portray- but at times, he seems very impassive and comes off as a bit of a mouth breather instead of being the brilliant Dee but it's far and few in between and most likely intending to show how Detective Dee wasn't always the master of mysteries and had his moments growing up...but I digress. All in all Mark Chao gave a solid performance as Dee. I did not find him lacking really in the character. Carina Lau makes another appearance in here reprising her role as the Empress. She's not in here as much but she always was a very respected actress that I haven't seen in awhile so it was good to see her again. I swear, she doesn't age a bit. Feng Shaofeng plays Detective Yuchi- a very interesting character. I have seen this actor in some of the other movies that he has been in and he was very good in this role. He did a great job of portraying just the right balance of defensiveness/helpfulness that defines his character and his interactions with Dee were amusing. Lin Gengxin is Dee's sidekick in this movie and he pretty much is exactly what you would think his character would be like next to Detective Dee. He is good for some light amusement and basically being Robin to Batman. This actor I had seen in more of his TV series and not really any of his movies. He has a face which I kept thinking was familiar and wasn't until I googled him did I make the connection. He's good as one of the group. Kim Bum plays Yuan Zhen another character in the subplot and he's good in the few scenes that he was in. Angelababy is Yin Ruiji, the capital's most beautiful courtesan. She is good as another character in the mystery but her character didn't have much depth to her. All in all, this was a pretty solid cast.
The mystery really is about a huge sea monster that comes out at night and attacks the area. The palace orders Dective Yushi to get on it and solve the mystery. At the same time, Detective Dee arrives in the Imperial Capital to become an officer of the law. He clashes with Detective Yushi and gets himself into all sorts of trouble. The biggest mystery is really the Sea Dragon. You also have a couple of other minor mysteries that of course, Detective Dee and company all solve and wrap up everything neatly at the end. To be honest, the premise of the mystery, the reasoning behind it and the execution of the plans to completion is a tad bit ludicrous. If you are looking for a mystery that will leave you wracking your mind to find out the solution then this movie isn't really for you. The problem with the Detective Dee movies is that it's not really about deep plot stories, etc., etc., It's more of this is the mystery, here is the reason why these events are occurring and this is the solution. Oh and yeah, some of these details are weak and hardly plausible at times but, whatever. If this movie didn't have Mark Chao pulling off the delivery of the brilliant Detective Dee and making otherwise lame details seem credible and if Tsui Hark hadn't done such a great job of effects and seamlessly weaving the direction of the movie, I would have said that this movie was ridiculous. You have to take this movie as it is. It's not a super complicated plot. It's silly at times, but it works. The finished product is a light, amusing and fun piece of work. This movie is typical Tsui Hark as of now- great 3d, slow mo effects at certain times, good choreography, brilliant colors, and yes, people flying around fighting. Personally, I think all of those things add up to a very enjoyable two hours.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2014
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
This is a great movie which has a excellent story and vivid visual effects!! If you enjoy the Detective Dee books or Sherlock Holmes this is worthy buying or renting. Looking forward to see if there are any more movies that will follow this up!!!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2014
Format: Blu-ray
Novice Detective Dee saves the Tang dynasty from a trained stingray fish, albeit a jumbo-sized one. Apart from solving the case, he must deal with machinations of Empress Wu, who is a power hungry woman. Empress Wu reminded me of those Indian women who misuse the draconian 498A law which is abused in almost all cases in India.

The CGI affects are excellent and innovative. All the actors were young and acted very well, I liked the actress who played Empress Wu.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2014
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
I love big budget oriental films whether Korean, Japanese, or in this case, Chinese. It is a portal into another world with colors, shapes, patterns, and movement. Of course it is not realistic: they didn't have washing machines or sidewalks beside the cart tracks in those days but the visuals make all the unrealism worth watching. The treachery, the heroism, the mysticism make the film worth the time spent watching. I equally loved Detective Dee: the Phantom Flame for the same reasons. They are rewarding ways to spend a quiet evening tripping out into another world. No six guns, cowboy hats, or horses here: instead, one gets wire acrobatics, exquisite costumes, social injustice, observations of the world's first acknowledged Detective!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
This is a great movie with outstanding martial art opera and nice "CG" affects. Anyone would enjoy watch this movie
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant Video
The cover likens this to Sherlock Holmes and it feels very Guy Ritchie's version, in a good way -

The Dee in the film is confident, not overly arrogant, and willing to explain how he deduced what he does to others showing his true genius. Every clue leads the story into a new direction and a new turn making this an edge of the seat ride from opening credits until the end.

The cinematography and effects bring this film to life, and very few moments feel too unbelievable to draw you out of the film. I have too many great things to say about this movie to do it justice now. Just know that this is a fun mystery ride through and through and if there are more Detective Dee in the future, sign me up.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
If you have read any of my previous reviews, anyone will know that I love stylized martial arts movies. With that said, the movies also need an engaging plot. This movie is good from start to finish. Even the closing credits are good so make sure to watch. I was really impressed by the action done by Feng Shaofeng. Everyone did a magnificent job, but he was the man and did more wire work than everyone else. If you are looking for a deep movie, this is not it. However, if you are looking for a movie with action, a bit of comedy and great special effects, this is it.
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