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
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 »
General Asper, the Umayyad Ambassador, speaks modern day Spanish, a language that did not yet exist as such at the end of the 7th century CE. See more »
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.
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I loved many of Tsui Hark's epics from the 80s/90s, but haven't seen anything from the director recently, so I probably went in with fairly neutral expectations.
This was an enjoyable ride. Like others have noted, it's comparable to a Chinese "Sherlock Holmes" (the recent Guy Ritchie version), or a movie-length, Tang-dynasty-set "CSI". Overall, it was a rather original experience - more than I can say for most movies nowadays. There are several intriguing characters and the pace and acting are solid. While the central murder mystery - whodunnit and howdunnit - is not exactly a head-scratcher, it does provide a good structure for some exciting and beautiful visuals.
Was the CGI completely up to the director's vision? Definitely not, but to naysayers, I say, loosen up! The budget for this movie is less than that of a typical Jennifer Aniston romantic comedy! I appreciated and enjoyed the whole movie enough that I wasn't overly distracted by the not-so-special effects.
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