Detective Dee: Mystery of the Phantom Flame (2010)
"Di Renjie: Tong tian di guo" (original title)

PG-13  |   |  Action, Adventure, Drama  |  30 September 2010 (China)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 7,894 users   Metascore: 75/100
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An exiled detective is recruited to solve a series of mysterious deaths that threaten to delay the inauguration of Empress Wu.



(screenplay) (as Jialu Zhang) , , 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Shatuo Zhong
Pei Donglai
Shangguan Jing'er (as Li Bing Bing)
Jean-Michel Casanova ...
General Aspar (as Michel)
Sos Haroyan ...
Assistant to Umayyad Ambassador
Jialin Zhao ...
Yan Qin ...
Jia Yi
Jinshan Liu ...
Xue Yong
Aaron C. Shang ...
Shaizi (as Aaron Shang)
Deshun Wang ...
Xiazi Ling
Mickey He ...
Prison Officer (as Shenming He)
Lu Yao ...
Li Xiao


In 689 A.D., the Empress Wu Zetian is building a 66 m high statue of Buddha for her inauguration as the first empress of China under the objections and conspiracy of the other clans. When the engineer responsible for the construction mysteriously dies by spontaneous combustion, the superstitious workers are afraid since the man removed the good luck charms from the main pillar. There is an investigation of Pei Donglai and another investigator that also dies after withdrawing the amulets. Empress Wu assigns her loyal assistant Shangguan Jing'er to release the exiled Detective Dee from his imprisonment to investigate with Donglai and Jing'er the mystery of the deaths. They ride in a mystic and epic adventure to unravel the mystery. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and some sexuality. | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:







Release Date:

30 September 2010 (China)  »

Also Known As:

Detective Dee: Mystery of the Phantom Flame  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$13,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$81,262 (USA) (23 September 2011)


$262,636 (USA) (23 September 2011)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The stunt team built eight platforms (12 meters tall) in the cave for three days of wire work. The record was over 70 wires for one scene. See more »


When the Crown Prince is killed by an arrow piercing his forehead, he has just won a board game similar to Go, except with blue & orange jewels instead of the traditional smooth stones. He starts picking up his pieces, then slams them down again shortly before he is shot. But as he crashes down onto the large board, a neat space has suddenly been cleared for the actor's head to impact safely - or possibly this was the result of a previous take. See more »


Detective Dee: Shatuo... do you still remember Donkey Wang? Luoyang City Was built a thousand years ago. The old city subsided during the Han dynasty. A new city was built on top during the Sui dynasty. The old underground city became a black market. They call it the Phantom Bazaar.
See more »


Followed by Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

Breath of fresh air.
15 September 2011 | by (New York, USA) – See all my reviews

Detective Dee is a real fun and solid movie with breath-taking cinematography from Tsui Hark, a pretty legendary filmmaker from Hong Kong.

It's is a bizarre martial arts fantasy mystery film (yes). The story is both taken from historical China and derived from a novel series (series, so look for sequels). It's a frequently zany mystery with tons of twists that might have your head spinning...or you might just be completely lost. Go with that feeling and expect it.

The story follows Detective Dee (Andy Lau) as he's brought out of imprisonment to investigate a series of murders during the lead-up to the coronation of the first female Empress of China (played by Carina Lau). The movie feels almost like a flurry of ridiculous events, which is pretty great and really different from anything that's coming out of Hollywood these days. To enjoy this movie, go in with an open mind and's in subtitles.

6 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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