Detective Dee and the Mystery of Phantom Flame (Hark Tsui)

The year is 689 AD and the first woman Empress of China is about to be crowned. A statue is being built of Buddha in her honor, of tremendous height and with lava flowing through its centre. However, days before the inauguration of Empress Wu, people start spontaneously combusting.  An exiled detective  (Dee) is hired to solve the mystery. A strange choice as he is known for being a rebel, Dee now claims allegiance to the throne. It becomes apparent that the people who have caught fire and burned to death have been poisoned by ‘fire turtles’, creatures which only come from Infinity mountain. Detective Dee and the assistant to the Empress, must go there and find out how people are being poisoned and by whom.

The film was a true epic, filled with elaborate sets and grand martial arts sequences. It was filled with enjoyable yet impossible fighting scenes where characters flew from building to building with ease and people’s faces morphed into other faces randomly. Although I found parts of the film difficult to understand and found it hard to keep track of who was fighting who and the significance of that one in particular,  there were comedic moments- mostly ones featuring the talking deer. The film left open the possibility of sequels (although nothing has been formally announced) as it ended before a battle that had been previously mentioned.

View the trailer here

-Flossie Topping

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