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Detective Dee: Mystery of the Phantom Flame (2010)

Di renjie: Tong tian di guo (original title)
Trailer
2:11 | Trailer
An exiled detective is recruited to solve a series of mysterious deaths that threaten to delay the inauguration of Empress Wu.

Director:

Hark Tsui

Writers:

Chia-Lu Chang (screenplay), Kuo-Fu Chen | 1 more credit »
10 wins & 17 nominations. See more awards »

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

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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

China | Hong Kong

Language:

Mandarin | Spanish

Release Date:

30 September 2010 (China) See more »

Also Known As:

Di Renjie: Tong tian di guo See more »

Filming Locations:

Beijing, China See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$13,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

CNY 118,000,001 (China), 3 October 2010

Opening Weekend USA:

$52,617, 4 September 2011, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$459,836

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$51,723,285
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A sequel is being planned before the first film's Chinese release. See more »

Goofs

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

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 »

Connections

Featured in At the Movies: Summer Special 2010/11 (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A fine return to form, and ready for a franchise.
7 April 2011 | by CoolestmoviesSee all my reviews

A super-sized fantasy epic -- and a cracking good mystery story -- from a director who, for this viewer's money, has never completely lost his mojo, despite some box-office and critical misfires in recent years. DETECTIVE DEE carries on the tradition of exhilarating visual craftsmanship that Tsui Hark has demonstrated on many of his pictures over the years, only here it's fronted by a franchise-worthy leading figure in real-life Tang Dynasty forensic detective De Renjie (Andy Lau), and buttressed with Tsui's inimitable visual zest and a smart, politically-tinged and ultimately very satisfying mystery narrative in which senior government officials spontaneously combust from the inside out. As in his best costume fantasies (and even a couple of his not-so-best, such as LEGEND OF ZU), Tsui again conjures some of the most captivating scenery yet seen in a Chinese film, including a 200-foot tall statue-in-progress of Buddha (complete with scaffolding and suspension bridges connected to a central tower) that figures prominently into a spectacular plot to kill the wicked and divisive Empress Wu (Carina Lau), and the underground Phantom Market, a massive, forbidding, fire-lit city of caves wherein a key witness (Richard Ng) resides. Opulent palace interiors have been seen in countless Chinese films and TV series over the years, but feel fresh here -- I don't know if it's simply new sets, new set dressing or new camera angles, but it all feels purpose-built for this production (perhaps it was?). Sammo Hung's choreography is impeccably designed and flawlessly edited, and loaded with the kind of soaring wireworked wuxia you may not realize you sorely missed in Hong Kong/Chinese action movies because so many people have knocked it nearly every time it has been used in the last decade. The film's plentiful CGI is, for the most part, seamlessly integrated, such is the level of technical expertise of contemporary effects houses across Asia, in this case armies of computer jockeys in Korea and Hong Kong (their only weak spot perhaps being an onslaught of battling deer, which are just enough left-of-field to make up for any weaknesses in their rendering). Despite being largely a Mainland production (as far as I know), this has the heart and soul of a classic Hong Kong fantasy, particularly those of it's ace director, albeit one made with much cooler modern filmmaking toys. (Viewed at TIFF 2010)


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