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Detective Dee & The Mystery of the Phantom Flame

4.1 out of 5 stars 164 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

A period epic from genre master Tsui Hark (Seven Swords), DETECTIVE DEE is an action-packed, visually breathtaking Sherlock Holmes-style mystery starring some of China's top acting talent: Andy Lau, Bingbing Li, Carina Lau, and Tony Leung Ka-fai. Nominated for Best Special Effects at the 2011 Asian Film Awards and stunningly choreographed by master Sammo Hung, this intricately plotted whodunit is set in an exquisitely realized steampunk version of ancient China. On the eve of her coronation as Empress (Carina Lau, 2046), China's most powerful woman is haunted by a chilling murder mystery: seven men under her command have burst into flames, leaving behind only black ash and skeletal bones. Recognizing this threat to her power, she turns to the infamous Dee Renjie (Andy Lau, Infernal Affairs, House Of Flying Daggers): a man whose unparalleled wisdom is matched only by his martial arts skills. As he battles a series of bizarre dangers, he unveils a chilling truth that places his life, and the future of an entire dynasty, in peril.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Cantonese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    PG-13
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: Indomina
  • DVD Release Date: December 13, 2011
  • Run Time: 119 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (164 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005M9VSMI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,457 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
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
...Read more ›
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Format: DVD
"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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Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD
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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Format: 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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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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