IMDb > Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (2010)
Di Renjie: Tong tian di guo
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Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (2010) More at IMDbPro »Di Renjie: Tong tian di guo (original title)

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Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame -- An exiled detective is recruited to solve a series of mysterious deaths that threaten to delay the inauguration of Empress Wu.

Overview

User Rating:
6.6/10   7,068 votes »
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Up 11% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Director:
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View company contact information for Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
30 September 2010 (China) See more »
Plot:
An exiled detective is recruited to solve a series of mysterious deaths that threaten to delay the inauguration of Empress Wu. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Awards:
6 wins & 12 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Diversifiedly solid but not impressive after all See more (34 total) »

Cast

  (Cast overview, first billed only)

Tony Ka Fai Leung ... Shatuo Zhong

Chao Deng ... Pei Donglai

Carina Lau ... Empress Wu Zetian

Bingbing Li ... Shangguan Jing'er (as Li Bing Bing)

Andy Lau ... Detective Dee
Jean-Michel Casanova ... General Aspar (as Michel)
Sos Haroyan ... Assistant to Umayyad Ambassador
Jialin Zhao ... Interpreter
Yan Qin ... Jia Yi
Jinshan Liu ... Xue Yong
Aaron Shang ... Shaizi
Deshun Wang ... Xiazi Ling
Mickey He ... Prison Officer (as Shenming He)
Lu Yao ... Li Xiao

Yanming Jiang ... Undertaker
See more »

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Di Renjie: Tong tian di guo" - China (original title)
"Detective D" - Singapore (English title) (short title)
See more »
MPAA:
Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and some sexuality.
Runtime:
USA:119 min | UK:123 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

Trivia:
Based on the Chinese folk hero Di Renjie, popularized in the West by a series of detective novels written by Robert Van Gulik, who called him "Judge Dee".See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: 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 »
Quotes:
Empress Wu Zetian:Remember, when one's aim is to achieve greatness... everyone is expendable.See more »
Movie Connections:

FAQ

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful.
Diversifiedly solid but not impressive after all, 12 October 2012
Author: kluseba from Chicoutimi, Canada

Di Renjie zhi tongtian diguo or Detective Dee and the mystery of the phantom flame is a Chinese fantasy movie that takes place during the Zhou Dynasty when the first and only Chinese empress Wu Zetian started her reign. The cold, cruel and somewhat megalomaniac woman that wants to rule on her own accord and who killed several potential enemies in the past is now menaced days before her crowning. After the mysterious death of two people during the construction of a giant Buddha statue in front of the emperor's residence, she asks the Chaplain, a sort of state preceptor who speaks through a magical deer, for help. He gives her the advice to recruit the banned Detective Dee who had openly accused the empress for having possibly killed her late husband and who was one of the leading persons in a growing revolution eight years ago. Even before Detective Dee can be contacted, a group of assassins tries to kill him and another prisoner but they ultimately fail. Intrigued by the strange murders and the will to make peace with his past, Detective Dee soon discovers that black magic seems to be the cause of the deaths. Accompanied by the empress' charming but mysterious attendant and an albinistic officer in the penal system, Detective Dee has to put the pieces of the puzzle together before the crowning of the empress takes place and soon discovers a well organized conspiracy with the goal to kill the empress.

This movie has a historic background that is though not developed in a profound way. The film rather focuses on fantastic elements around black magic, a few mild suspension moments and a couple of artistic action choreographies done by some of the best experts of several outstanding Hongkong action movies of the late eighties and early nineties. This film though wastes a little bit of potential on here as it turns out to be too diversified to truly convince in any of the genres it touches and as it lacks of a few more developed cultural and historical bits and pieces that would make the final result more authentic.

Apart of the action choreographies, a true highlight are definitely the buildings, costumes and masquerades in the movie that were created in a very precise and professional way as it often happens to be in contemporary Chinese movies. On the other side, the special effects are less impressive and often to artificially flavoured so that they destroy the movie's certain kind of magic a few times. That's where Hollywood is still slightly ahead of modern Asian cinema.

While the story of this movie definitely has a few good points and a couple of small twists as well, there are still some negative factors. One never really gets to know why the two persons in the beginning of the movie really had to die instead of killing the empress in an unexpected way during her crowning. The movie also has a few anachronisms such as way too modern ships in the harbour and the diplomat in the beginning of the film whose identity and role remains strangely unresolved. These flaws are pardonable if you take this movie as a fictional film only.

In the end, you get an entertaining fantasy movie with a solidly suspenseful story, well done choreographies and stunning costumes. The movie though has no truly innovating elements, surprising moments or touching scenes. It has without a doubt a certain kind of magic after all but it is sometimes too professionally done to touch the people. This movie is rather ordinary in comparison to what the gifted director Tsui Hark has done in the past but it's still one of the more entertaining Asian movies from 2010. After all, I guess I would only recommend this film to long time fans of Asian cinema as well as of stunning costumes and artistic choreographies. I would go for a loan instead of an immediate purchase as the film is surely entertaining but nothing outstanding enough to be a worthy addition to a film collection of an Asian cinema maniac.

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See more (34 total) »

Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (2010)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
I thought Cung Le was in the film. mohjong
Couldn't believe the world it was set in. Just me? peter_t_2k3
Donkey Wang..... ajbuckton
A few questions (spoilers) cherold
Why is Donglai so pale? PiranianRose
Why didn't Dee die? rwilliams4254
See more »

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