Needed to watch something different and more entertaining so decided to give this movie a try even when I knew that Chinese action movies are not my kind of movies; so, it was an excellent surprise as movie was great entertainment with some quite beautiful choreographed fights, epic and grandiose scenes with many extras, very good cinematography and a great story that made me recall the good old detective stories a la Sherlock Holmes.
Directed by Hark Tsui who just learned that was a classic from Hong Kong golden era and is based on the book by Chen Kuofu with same name. Film tells the fictional account of Di Renjie one of the most celebrated officials of the Tang Dynasty, aka Detective Dee, who is liberated from prison to investigate the mysterious deaths of a series of loyal subjects. Eight years earlier Empress Wu Zetian, the only female emperor to ever rule China, send him to jail for leading a revolt to overthrown her; but she knew he was a loyal servant of her predecessor. So weeks before the grand inauguration ceremony of Empress Wu, Detective Dee dutifully returns to her Majesty’s service and partnering with the gung-ho Commander Bei and beautiful highly skilled martial artist Shangguan Jing’er –who serves as Empress Wu maid and right-hand “man”- they set to unveil the mystery murders. You have no idea how great and entertaining the voyage into this fantasy/mystery story will be; so much liked the movie that I’m thinking to maybe watch the other multi-honored film 13 Assasins.
As you probably recall film was in competition for the Golden Lion at the 2010 Biennale and after watching the film absolutely understand the selection as well as being screened at 2010 Toronto fest and other festivals. Don’t have much experience watching Chinese action films but if they’re like this one I should start learning more about them.
I do recommend the film to those that enjoy fantasy with mystery and action in your entertaining movies, but be assured that you will find a lot more in this film that has excellent production values.